Having survived Reagan, both Bushes, drug addicted and abusive paramours, the scourge that is HIV/AIDS, unrelenting bullying and the need to beg folks to let me get married, it is time to start celebrating and telling my real age.
February 29th, marked my 44th year on this planet.
While I don’t mind getting older, I just have a problem admitting it. When someone starts guessing my age, I am thrilled until the moment comes when I actually have to tell the truth. At a birthday party recently, someone suggested that I was twenty eight.
Being complimented in this way was great since I usually start the bidding at around 35.
This didn’t last long before the love of my life shouted out, “whatever age he tells you add fifteen years”. We left the party shortly thereafter.
What is this thing about age that myself and all the gay men I know seem to have ?
Perhaps we feel that our youth was ill spent. That our young days are sorely behind us with nothing to do now but wait for the gods to “come a calling” (thanks Eartha). Maybe, many of us, myself included, have spent untold hours and years trying to get men to love us and be kind and thoughtful when what we should have been doing is recognizing our own greatness and pressing aggressively onward.
It is very popular these days to root around in your past.
While a trot down memory lane can be fun, entertaining and occasionally enlightening , these jaunts rarely lead to any significant change or resolve. Be Bold!! That’s it. Boldness doesn’t stop or run out as we age. Instead, I find that having survived and thrived amidst so much nonsense both self imposed and environmentally based until I decided that I’d had enough, has made me even bolder.
As an aging gay men of color, it is assumed that my day in the sun is over and that since I don’t look like what is in popular magazines nor can offer porn god pricelessness (which I never did), I have nothing of value to add to the world.
Until I learned to say “fuck it” and truly mean it, nothing changed.
A great deal of this has to do with the aging process and how I choose to handle it. At 44, no matter how much I want to believe in the power of exfoliants and miracle-in-a-jar moisturizers, I am no longer 25 or 30, or dare I say it, 35.
Oh, but my best years are ahead of me.
Not having to seduce men and play all of the he loves me he loves me not games certainly frees up a great deal of time. Myself and so many of my friends have spent hours trying to put cases and clues together regarding what someone said or didn’t say. All of our highly ineffective detective work attempting to figure out what someone “really meant” and never quite hitting the mark and yet we had time to create and live our lives.
I have not given up on love or its power.
I have become clear and brutally honest with myself and others.
I tell my real age.
I wear it like a battle scar. I remind myself and others that there are many folks who began life’s journey with me who decided to check out for whatever the reason some time ago.
As a black, gay artist and teacher, it is my duty to share my thriving mechanisms with whomever is open to hearing them.
It is my duty to defeat ageism and the descent into “trollism” that many folks believe is my lot and those of others who have moved beyond the age of thirty and still want to take up space.