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An age-old

An age-old


"We turn up our noses at friendships and relationships just because the other guy is old enough to remember the 'Cougar' in John Mellencamp."

At age 969, Methuselah--who lived to be 12.5 times as old as the average American and 2.3 times as old as Larry King--was most likely not too picky about the men he dated. Even in biblical times, I'm guessing, it was generally understood that gay dating life ends after 30. Being left out of the dating world for 939 years would be quite lonely. Which, as Methuselah admits in Genesis 5:27, "is kind of a bitch."

Why are gay people so fascinated by eternal youth? We turn up our noses at potential friendships, relationships, and opportunities simply because the other guy is old enough to remember the "Cougar" in John Mellencamp--or, let's face it, to remember John Mellencamp in the first place. Considering how many younger gay men won't talk to--let alone date--older gay men, one feels prompted to ask: If we'd never judge someone for their race, how can we justify judging someone for their age?

For me, it all depends on whether we're talking about friendship or lust. If modern society agrees that being gay isn't a choice, then society should also realize that we can't choose who we're attracted to. People in general tend to date people similar to themselves--whether that's because we find our own type attractive or we've learned we have no other choice. You can see it at the grocery store, movie theater, or community retirement home--water seeks its own level, if you like.

People pair off by height, by weight, by fashion sense, and definitely by age.

Most younger gay men want to date hot guys their age. I'm 26. Choosing not to have a conversation with 51-year-old Nathan Lane makes me ageist; choosing not to date 51-year-old Nathan Lane makes me typical.

But that's just me. If every younger gay man were interested only in guys his own age, Web sites like wouldn't be as successful as they are. Christopher Turner, the site's founder, said in a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, "I think when people see a young man with an older guy, they think, Sugar daddy.... But one thing people don't see is that a lot of people have a serious attraction to older men--whether it's physical, emotional, intellectual--and feel more comfortable in relationships with older men." Turner would know--his husband is Armistead Maupin, 27 years his senior.

Ageism is not confined to gays. It permeates society, ubiquitous as a dancing-kitten YouTube video. But sometimes I think it hits gay men the hardest, because it costs us friends as well as lovers. If it hasn't hurt us yet, it will. After all, today's young princess is tomorrow's old queen. Just ask Methuselah.

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Ryan Shattuck