For the first time in history the number of people over 65 is greater than those under 15. This month we’re going to talk about the many important advantages that getting older comes with particularly got gay men aging.
There are good things in store for aging gay men.
As a culture we over-focus on the issues associated with getting older. The burden that older people place on families, and society, is looked at frequently. But we’ve gotten lost in the bad news and seldom consider the good things that come with the experience of a long life. Rather than looking at ways to deal with declining health, and cognitive faculties, we ought to be thinking about how we can create a powerful experience of growth for the aging gay men’s population. How can we support ourselves in continuing to contribute well into old age, preferably until the end of life?
It's about optimal aging.
As we look at what optimal aging for gay men might mean it‘s important for us to consider things beyond the physical. Physical decline is balanced by growth in the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual realms. This maturing creates opportunities for older people to contribute in unique ways.
Providing that our faculties remain intact, we accumulate knowledge as we live life. Part of the aging process is synthesizing wisdom from that knowledge. That synthesis leads to a deeper understanding of life and its mechanisms. Older people have insights that aren’t available to us when we’re younger.
On the emotional side stability is the hallmark of aging for gay men. Even without years of meditation practice older people are able to create more distance from their emotions, and from life’s inevitable turmoil. This allows a more rational approach during periods of strife or change. Some people get stuck in old patterns as they age but many are able to roll with change easily. Living for many years, we learn not to “sweat the small stuff”. My grandparents, for instance, had difficulty understanding my sexuality but they were able to accept it much more easily than my parents. My brother who was a tween when I first started coming out struggled most. The ability not to take things personally seems to grow out of that emotional stability.
Spirituality is an area where older people truly shine. The wisdom that they have accumulated gives them better perspective on life and their role in it. They engage more easily with spiritual practice. Some have had lots of time to deepen into their own practice gaining powerful insights that they can share with those of us not quite as far down the path. The archetypes of the wise old man on the mountain, or the ancient powerful witch, honor the growth that comes with a wealth of experience. This is no different for gay men as we age.
Long, happy, productive life.
As science advances we are likely to continue to live longer. Working to improve the quality of those later years will allow the elderly to bring everything they have learned and experienced to younger generations. Every one of us can benefit from the wisdom of the elders in our lives. We should count ourselves fortunate if we become elders ourselves one day. This new perspective can help gay men to age more gracefully and happily.