Generation “O”, my definition for Generation “older”. To be an older gay male in today’s society and a double whammy, to be single, really sucks. No pun intended! How did we get to be where we are today and are we relics? How do we begin to date and be taken serious? When I was in my 30’s I thought I knew where I would be today in my early 60’s. Guess again. Life will throw you so many curve balls. I have people tell me, “You don’t look 62, I thought you were early 50’s” and it’s flattering because I do try to take care of myself and through no fault of mine, have had some physical setbacks. As I put it, I am God’s comic relief! I’ve had since 2009, 7 surgeries because of accidents beyond my control. Because in our world, physical beauty and youth are “where it’s at” so am very self-conscious about my appearance. I used to work out and jog daily. Since then have put on about 20 pounds that I am desperately trying to lose. So again, physical appearance seems to be the key to finding a meaningful relationship. NOT! I stopped watching any gay themed shows or movies, because it always portrayed a young Adonis looking for love and of course, usually finding it. I found it depressing because I’d look at myself and think, who is going to want me at my age? When I was in my 20’s I loved older men because they were mature and knew what they wanted. They weren’t flighty, materialistic and self-centered like most of the young gays I knew at the time. AND I wasn’t a fortune seeker. My one true relationship that I thought would’ve lasted forever, died in my arms from AIDS in the early 90’s. I see a man about my age and they seem to be interested in younger men. In my little bedroom community of Frederick, every Tuesday evening is “Pride on the Patio” at Nido’s. It’s a nice social gathering made up of mostly men in their 50’s-60’s. Having learned from a few of the younger guys that came, since it was advertised on several dating apps, etc. when they showed up, no one would talk to them. It was a bunch of “old” men. Had I’d’ve seen anyone new enter; I certainly would have attempted to make them feel welcome. Then I heard there was a younger crowd that started their own group because they didn’t like the “old” men. Yet from what I heard, they sit around and talk about how they want to be with an older man! Go figure! Frederick’s Gay Pride has become a huge success. This past year was an attendance of mostly what seemed to be non-gay families. The few gay couple’s I saw walking were in their early 20’s and when I smiled and said hello as we passed, they snubbed me with a contention and I thought to myself, If it weren’t for my generation fighting for your rights, you wouldn’t be able to comfortably walk through town with your little attitudes. Generation O, we know things, we’ve experienced a great deal and can possess a great deal of compassion, understanding, history and advice, so don’t discount us because we threatened your own mortality. In a world so torn apart, our community can’t afford to be divided. Yes, that’s naïve on my part. But I still have hope.
- Gary Schwartz is a composer, musician, counselor, writer, performer. Double majored in Behavioral Psychology and Music Composition. Worked as counselor through Whitman Walker Clinic, Gay Men's Counseling Collective, Hospice of Frederick County, Montgomery County Health Department and Frederick County Department of Social Services as Adult Foster Care. Gary currently teaches private piano, voice and composition and just finished his 19th year performing at MDRF!