It was 2015. I was 43 years old, and it suddenly dawned on me -- my life was a mess. My 10-year interracial relationship had ended a few years earlier, but I was still living in the house my partner and I had shared and continued to co-own. Although we had remained good friends, it took me a while to fully comprehend how vastly my life had changed. The future which once was, was no more. I was alone, and didn't know what I was doing or where I was going anymore.
Initially, I threw myself into work to help ease the breakup aftermath. I had fallen into doing post-production sound for film and television many years before; it was creative, I was good at it, and it had a lot of pluses. And at this point in my life, one of them was the long hours. But I had moved to Los Angeles to be a filmmaker, and I wasn't doing much of that. Instead, I was starting to feel like a failure.
I didn't have much interest in jumping into another relationship; however, I did eventually try to jump back into the dating pool. Having been out of the scene for so many years, I was shocked to discover that this had greatly changed as well. Now it was mostly apps and online -- which was like learning a new language, and I had to learn it fast.
Even going down to boys' town was completely different. Being over 40, I was now seen as a "daddy." WTF? Although my hair had mostly retained its dark brown color and only showed a little gray, and I still hit the gym regularly and felt like I was in my 30s, I didn't turn the same heads anymore. My status in the gay guy world had changed, and that was just how it was going to be. And boy, was it hard to accept. For the first time in my life, I felt old.
But surely I wasn't the only one in this situation, I thought. There had to be others out there in their 40s who were going through similar troubling challenges and realizations. So what did I do? I turned to TV for comfort, of course -- and found nothing.
I began to wonder, How come there weren't any representations of what I was going through being told on television? Where was the show that I could identify with, the one about gay men in their 40s still trying to figure out life and its twists and turns, ups and downs, surprises and disappointments? I looked online, where there is more diverse and LGBTQ content, and only found more of the same I had found before -- shows centered around teens, 20-somethings, and millennials with often repeated and tiresome subject matter: coming out, hooking up, drug use, etc. I couldn't find anything dealing with issues to which I could relate.
And then I thought about all of my 40-something gay friends and how they all led very different lives from mine and each other's as well. And I thought about what they all had been through and were going through presently and how their stories weren't being told either.
And then it hit me: It was up to me to tell these stories.
I felt this burning, passionate desire, like nothing I'd ever quite experienced before, to see my story and my friends' lives represented on-screen. We needed representation, and we needed it done in a serious and thoughtful, effective, professional manner. So, along with my writing partner John Sobrack (a fellow gay filmmaker, married and in his 40s), I created The New 30 -- a digital series about a group of diverse gay friends navigating their 40s and discovering that life isn't nearly what they imagined it would be at that age. It explores some of the real issues of being gay and in your 40s, such as erectile dysfunction, intergenerational and interracial dating, baby adoption, open marriages, adapting to technology, physical challenges of aging, dealing with the past, planning for the future, and having to start over, to name a few -- all handled seriously and dramatically but with a touch of humor. The characters in the show discover that your 40s can be just as crazy, unpredictable, and challenging as your 30s!
It's now 2019, and my life's not such of a mess anymore. The series (on YouTube) was just nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama and also three Indie Series Awards, and we've launched a Kickstarter campaign to make season 2. I'm finally following my passion, and I've learned a lot over the past few years. I've learned it's OK to be gay and in your 40s and not have your life all figured out. It's OK to question yourself and what you're doing and where you're going. It's OK to start all over and to be alone. And you'll be OK, because you're really not alone -- there are others out there who are going through the same thing.
So yeah, being in your 40s ain't so bad. After all, 40 just may be The New 30.
WALT BOST is the co-creator, cowriter, director, and executive producer of the Emmy-nominated The New 30. Originally from North Carolina, Bost has written, directed, and edited the award-winning short films Harbinger and The Hike and the feature film Immortal. As an Emmy-nominated supervising sound editor, Walt's current credits include iZombie,Veronica Mars,Grace and Frankie, and You.