9 Things the Younger Gay Generation Needs to Know

Ten years ago, I moved to Kansas City to be with my boyfriend, who is now my husband. That October, we enjoyed an evening of fun in the West Bottoms, where we entered one of Kansas City’s famed haunted houses. Kansas Citians take Halloween very seriously.
We fumbled from room to room, stumbling through the dark and twisting corridors, occasionally jumping out of our skins when a masked teen would lurch at us with a strained growl or well-rehearsed shriek. At the end of this tour of terror came an elaborate exit that required all guests to descend several stories via a corkscrew slide.
At the base of the slide were several boys who helped the disoriented guests to their feet. As one of the young gentlemen extended his hand to offer me assistance, he uttered the most unnerving phrase I had heard all evening. His words shot through my gut and sent shivers down every one of my nerve endings.
“Here you go, Pops!” he chortled.
Pops?! POPS?! It was at that precise moment that I realized I was no longer part of the youthful set. I was, in fact, “at an age.”
Now that I have accepted the fact that I am hurtling toward my AARP years, I feel obliged to do what most folks my age do – offer unsolicited advice. As a gay man who finds himself a bit long in the tooth (this is not just a cute turn of phrase, by the way — after 40, your hairline and gums are in cahoots to recede), I feel compelled to share a few insights with the younger gay boys and girls. That doesn’t mean you should be compelled to listen or agree with me because, honestly, you probably won’t.
So, here goes:
• Yes, a lot of older men just want to get in your pants. So do a lot of younger ones. This doesn’t change when you get older. Even at 80, someone’s going to be eyeing your package. Mostly the backside towards the wallet area. Insurers, doctors, banks, mortgage companies, etc.--; they all can’t wait for you to grow up just so they can get in your pants. Personally, it was easier dealing with the ones who just wanted to get into the front. Most of them took “no” for an answer. This could all be resolved if we all just agreed to stop wearing pants. Write your local Congress member. Solidarity now!
• Unless you know something I don’t, do not call me “Daddy” or “Papi” or any other term that may indicate that we are related. This seriously creeps me out. It makes me feel like a perv and makes you sound like a lost 4-year-old in Walmart.
• If we’re having a conversation and you pick up that cell phone to update your status, send a tweet, check your email, or text a friend, I WILL KILL YOU! It’s rude. No debate. Do it in my presence and you will have twatted your last tweet.
• The older generation did not cause AIDS. Yes, before AIDS, there was a lot of promiscuity. This was not just within the gay community. It was the hedonistic post-love-in era of the ’70s for chrissake. There was a lot of semen flying all over the place. AIDS was and is still an issue within all communities. No one who has AIDS or HIV “deserves” or “earned” it, and no one has the right to judge. Many members of the older generation lost more than hopefully you’ll ever be able to lose within your lifetime. So when it comes to this issue, think before you open your damn mouth.
• Be grateful. If you can’t be grateful, then at least be sensitive. Many of you live in a world that is more accepting or at least more tolerant of your sexual orientation than the one that the generation before you lived in. The acceptance, legal protections, tolerance, and basic human rights now raining down upon you were paid for with a lot of tears and suffering. Complaining about your upcoming nuptials or cracking jokes about same-sex marriage or “gaybies” in front of those of us who worked so hard to give you the legal right to wed and adopt is a bit insensitive and smacks of all that is petty and cruel.
• Just like you, I still don’t really know what I want out of life. That said, I do have a pretty firm grasp on what I don’t want, and by the slow process of elimination, I’ve been able to narrow my options. That’s the benefit of experience. I’ve tried much of what life has offered me and know which things I would not try again and which I will always treasure. How’s that for advice? Keep living! There’s a world of things out there that you’re just going to hate. Of course, there are a lot of things you’re going to love, too, and you’ll be devastated when you lose them. And you will lose them. That’s the price of admission for being born, the contract we all signed when we popped out of the womb. It’s during those times of loss that you’ll find true friends, both old and young, will be there to hold you up till you’re ready to move on. That’s the benefit of being a kind person.
• You will never live up to your full potential. None of us do. Strive to do it anyway. People will admire you for it. After all, it’s in that struggle that you’ll discover how truly remarkable you really are.
• It gets better … except when it doesn’t … and when it doesn’t, you get better.
• Lastly, no haunted houses after you turn 35. If you absolutely must, then don’t go to the one with the slide.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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