As gay/bi/trans ("GBT") men, if we're lucky, we're all becoming older. Few of us die from AIDS and HIV, unlike our less fortunate brothers of the 1980's and 1990's. And yet, for many of us, age brings not so much peace and wisdom as self-hate and fear. We hate ourselves because we're not young and pretty anymore. We're afraid of our future because we feel we're becoming more-and-more invisible.

I get a lot of emails from mid-life GBT men saying some version of: "I hate my wrinkles, my gray hair, my love handles, my expanding belly. Who's going to want me now?" Only recently are we starting to see attractive images of older GBT men in popular culture. But, for decades, it was considered a crime to be an old GBT guy: we were supposed to become "invisible", remember? There were bars for older men - cruelly called "wrinkle rooms" - and we were supposed to stay away from hot young guys, who supposedly were terrified we would hit on them and remind them of who they would eventually grow up to be.

Ugh. What a horrible vision of our future. No wonder so many of our brothers didn't want to live very long; if this is our destiny, who wants it? Luckily, this is no longer our destiny. We can start to erase all those years of GBT self-hatred from our psyches and begin to drop the fears of "invisibility" and "wrinkle rooms". As enlightened GBT men, most of us have looked at our own racism and homophobia, but let's look at a more subtle form of discrimination and self-hatred: ageism.

Straight and gay media lovingly promote the high-priced anti-aging products of their advertisers. They are unlikely to encourage us to love ourselves just as we are. Instead, we are brainwashed to think we are barely acceptable unless we hide or eliminate our gray hair, receding hairlines, love handles and wrinkled skin. Happy, secure GBT men won't buy overpriced anti-aging products; but scared and desperate men will...and do. How can we escape the self-hatred of ageism?

First off, be willing to identify old parts of yourself that you've suppressed. Those needs and desires can be very important for us as we pour the"foundation" for the second half of our life. Ask yourself: what do I really care about? What do I want to spend my energy on? We are a generation of GBT men who (in general) are better educated, healthier and more affluent than our forefathers. We may live for another 40 or 50 years. But, as one of my 40-something clients recently asked me, "What am I gonna do with all that time?" Popular culture calls this a "midlife crisis", but does it have to be a crisis? Midlife crises shake up our lives for better and for worse, but - surprisingly - the biggest mistake is not having one at all. A midlife crisis is a period of a time of intense growth and dramatic life changes that are exciting and terrifying. The "crisis" usually occurs between our late 30s and early 50s. How do you know you're having a midlife crisis? It's not only about how your looks change; more importantly, it's about realizing that your values have changed. You realize that the values that have guided you for so many years no longer work. Something's gotta give!

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

Red Bull Unlocked Nashville

Keep reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville

Keep reading Show less

Post-Covid travel planning

Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

Keep reading Show less