The New 60: Truth of Attraction

The New 60: Truth of Attraction

Of late, I have been dating mostly younger men. Much younger men.

People sometimes have "business" with each other. That business can be about a moment or a month or a lifetime. One of the things that comes from "outliving myself" is the conviction that I will not turn away from that which brings me a feeling of aliveness. I can’t worry about what other people will say.

When I was in my 20s, I had three significant relationships. One was brief but impactful with a 56-year-old man of the world. Although he had an Oscar and some Tonys, he did not seem to be enjoying his life fully, and I moved on, not ready to be engulfed in his not fully felicitous aura. Another was with a delightful Venezuelan director who was four years older than me; he was my inspiration to change continents at a whim and run off and be an artist. The most important was with the brilliant photographer, Peter Hujar, who was 16.5 years older than me, to the day: Our birthdays being exactly six months apart, October 11 and April 11.

Peter was a particularly insightful mentor. He taught me how to trust my "eye" and how to wash a dish. I was introduced to the best of outsider and avant-garde art: Charles Ludlum’s Ridiculous Theater, Ethyl Echelberger…some of the greats. Art was life and life was not always easy, but it was thrilling, nonetheless.

My next major lover, a writer, was six years younger than me, and I taught him how to wash a dish and thrive in N.Y.C. Over the ensuing decades, there have been some slightly older and some slightly younger. My last beloved ex, a high-energy director/artist/entrepreneur is 10 years younger than me. I am more confident for knowing him; he is more able to partake of the joy of the present. In some sense, all my relationships were successful: I have always learned and grown.

ROBERT LEVITHAN MAIN X390 (KAREN FUCHS) | ADVOCATE.COMMy lovers have been my teachers, my comrades, my students. My
attractions have shifted and changed over the years. Some lovers are
white; some, black. Right now I am enamored of a smart, sexy young
Taiwanese architect. My taste is catholic and mutable, depending upon
the person and the chapter in my life. Since my last relationship
ended, I have come to see that not only am I often attracted to younger
men, but a lot of them seem to want a 59-year-old man — as lover, friend,
mentor, and various combinations thereof. It’s convenient; it’s
mutually beneficial. They keep me in touch with enthusiasm and
vitality; I hope I bring them the gift of my experience.

I have
written about internalized prejudice when we buy into the concept that
we are less than because of something which we are, something which is
often derided in our culture at large, such as race, sexual orientation,
or age. I do not choose my lovers by age based on ageism. I am
confident in my own viability as a man of this age, and I am thrilled
when I am attracted to a man my age or older, and, as I said, recently I
have been dating younger men: 38, 24, 32, 27... I was talking about this
with a 25-year-old romantic friend a few months back, and he put it
this way: Despite the differences in our ages and races and backgrounds,
we make sense together. We are "soul mates." Societal expectations be
damned, the truth of our connection is a fact to us.

“Act your
age,” I hear either directly or between the lines from some of my
friends and associates. This is my age: I ride a Segway. I enjoy sex.
I have friends from 22 to 90, and I am still willing to risk having
my heart broken in order to feel it full. And I don’t always act like
this society’s picture of an almost 60-year-old. I have better things
to do with my time.

This is crucial to The New 60…honoring what
brings aliveness.

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