Yes, Aging As A Gay Man Can Be Challenging, BUT…
Aging as a gay man doesn’t have to be viewed as a prison sentence. Yes, it’s true that aging for anyone can be difficult AND that aging as a gay man has its unique challenges. Frankly being any age as a gay man has its fair share of trials and tribulations. But this is the thing, having lived a life as a gay man (which of course isn’t easy) can actually equip you for aging as a gay man with joy and purpose and give you unique advantages. 6
While aging itself is an inevitable part of being human and part of this world, knowing this doesn’t make it easy to deal with. Accepting that you are no longer as full of energy or young in appearance can be disheartening. It may seem like just yesterday you were a young 20-something making your own gay way in the world. If we choose to, we can be very intentional and face aging as gay men with courage and joy. Below, I’ll give some tips as both a gay therapist and fellow aging gay man on things to keep in mind
1. The Context Of Aging As A Gay Man
Unfortunately, for gay men, in particular, the process of aging is really stigmatized by both the gay and straight worlds. But in spite of what people may say, aging as a gay man doesn’t have to be this huge, scary, unsatisfying ordeal. Yes, of course there are anxieties surrounding aging. But when you think about it, haven’t you only gotten better at living with age? As you have gone through this life, haven’t you gained experiences and grown as a person? These experiences can help you age beautifully!
Being part of the LGBTQ+ community is not exactly easy (even with the progress that has been made). There is still a lot of fear and misconceptions towards those in our community. Society has a molded box that it expects gay men to fit into, and this is true from gay men to gay men and from the wider world towards gay men.
So when you are aging, this leaves you feeling like you don’t quite fit in. You no longer look or feel like you did in your 20’s. But this is not only okay, this is a natural part of being human. We need to allow ourselves to age, because we all are going to age! The choice is how.
2. The Stories We Tell Ourselves As Gay Men
All too often, the narrative gay men hear is that aging as a gay man is painful, lonely and difficult. Who decided this anyway? But, please remember that this is just a narrative and you shouldn’t buy into this story. It’s just a story. The stories that we tell ourselves end up being the stories that we live out. it’s important to develop helpful narratives that are empowering and choose our stories wisely.
By a certain age, there are expectations that people have for you and your life. You should be successful. Have it all together. Be poised, dignified, and be the confident gay best friend that goes shopping with his female friends and is the life of the party. And try as we might not want to, we place these expectations on ourselves to fit in.
3. Remember, Aging Has Nothing To Do With Your Sexuality Either
Aging well as a gay man has nothing to do with your sexuality, your sex life or your love life. Your personality and your characteristics that make you “you,” go beyond your sexual / romantic orientation or relationship status. Aging can be a real opportunity to focus on the relationship you have with yourself and can be a time of great inner kindness.
4. Being Older Does Not Mean That Your Dating Life Is Over
At any age or for any person, the process of dating becomes harder the older you get. Maybe you ended things with your partner after years of being with someone. Now, you are forcing yourself into the idea that just because you are older, it means you won’t meet someone again. That you aren’t wanted or desirable by other people. This isn’t true.
But the story you tell yourself may be limiting your ability to see this. There is absolutely nothing that says you won’t date again or find someone that you can spend your time with. As a therapist, I work with gay men of all ages and I regularly witness gay men of all ages finding love (and sex)!
5. Think Of Aging As The Beginning Of A Wonderful New Chapter
Your life wasn’t over when you turned 30, or 40, or even 50. in many ways, each new decade is a new beginning and the start of a new life for you.
If we aren’t reinventing ourselves or transforming how we think and feel, then we really aren’t growing as people. And more than anything, you should look at each new age you get to be as an opportunity to be better than you were before. To be more honest, open, and kindhearted to other people (and especially yourself), despite all the challenges of life.
6. It’s Never Too Late To Change
Finally, the last thing I want to leave you with is this point. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can always change and grow as a person. There is nothing that says that if you aren’t happy with how your life is going or some aspect of it, that you just need to suck it up and go with it, and suffer. You don’t.
The brain is very adaptive and the neuroscience is clear that we can literally change our brains and our lives at any age. This is called neuroplasticity which is just a fancy word to say the brain can rewire itself. Just like working out at the gym to build strength and endurance, our brains can continue to learn and grow and change our entire lives long.
There is always room to grow. I have seen how therapy tools such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Compassion Focused Therapy can help a person completely change how they think, feel, and behave to foster a better chance of growth and a better life. Life as a gay man isn’t easy to begin with BUT aging as a gay man can be very rewarding if you let it be.
Click HERE to learn more about therapy for gay men. If you are looking for support from a gay therapist, who is also a gay life coach, and specializes in providing therapy for the lgbtq+ community, please feel free to contact me at my Honolulu or London clinic to set up an initial test drive session to learn more about how therapy can help you not only with aging as a gay man, but also help you to make your remaining years on earth, the best (and kindest) years of your life.