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Published on September 18th, 2012 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles

A Letter to an Ageist

by Jim Duke

I was going through online profiles one day and came across one written by a 27 year old gay man. It read in part (the italics are mine):

“Looking for guys in their 20′s…. will consider guys in their 30′s… but don’t bother if you are over the age of 45 because you are already dead.”

Charming. I debated if I wanted to take the time to respond to him but decided to hold off. Basically all he’s saying is that he is most interested in guys around his own age and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. We all have our preferences and choices in the men that we seek. But it was the nastiness of his decision to add on that additional dig that being over the age of 45 was considered “…already dead” that stuck in my craw. Well, today I’ve mustered up a sufficient amount of cranky to write the response I would have liked to have sent. So…

Regarding Your Listing:

I saw your profile and although you don’t know me, I want to ask you to do me a favor. Print out a copy of what you wrote, laminate it and tuck into your wallet. Then, if you are lucky enough to reach your 46th birthday, I want you to pull it out and read it. If by chance life has been kind enough to provide you with experience and knowledge that has allowed you to reach a higher level of maturity, then perhaps you will grasp how truly repugnant your words are.

I appreciate that we live in a society that has given you the illusion that age is something to be ashamed of and therefore less desirable. I know what it is like to be bombarded by advertising messages that fawn on the young, knowing that they are more easily separated from their money by dangling the latest fad and shiny gadget before them, playing on their insecurities that they don’t belong unless they buy. No doubt it can inflate your own self-importance when a media empire exalts your generation in magazines, movies and television shows, reinforcing the notion that the older you are the more you will be relegated to the shadows instead of the glow of the spotlight. You are certainly not to blame that the gay community itself is rife with ageism, racism, sexism and homophobia… unless you contribute to those views.

I’m not asking that you change your ways and begin dating men over the age of 45. I am insisting that you have some respect for them. If you enjoy living in your home or apartment without fear that someone is going to knock on your door and tell you that you can no longer live there because you are gay, that is because someone over the age of 45 stood up and fought for you to have that right If you go to your job each day free from worry that who you slept with last night might lead to your being fired, it is because someone over the age of 45 took the risks that made that possible for you. And if you find yourself less concerned about issues of sex and health, it is because there are a whole lot of men who never made it to age 45, and a whole lot who did who held banners and bake sales and took to the streets and screamed that we will not be considered disposable members of society.

Age is all relative. Somewhere there is an 18 years old who would be appalled at the idea of dating someone as ancient as 27 years of age, another who thinks a 60 year old is the hottest thing going.

Age is relative, but aging is inevitable. You can slather on the creams, down the vitamins and stockpile all the Botox you want but time is an unavoidable force. The faint sound you hear in the background – that quiet almost indiscernible ‘tic-toc’ – is the passage of time, and in the time that it has taken for you to read this you have grown older. What truly matters is whether or not you have grown wiser.


Jim Duke is the Founder and President of “Guide For Gay Men,” a service which provides personal life coaching and consultation primarily to older gay and bisexual men. Navigating the issues involved in coming out, dealing with relationships, love and sex and the transitions of careers, life decisions and aging can be daunting… unless you have someone experienced to help guide you. Contact Jim and read what he has to say on these and other topics at

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