Born in 1952 I currently have over six decades of experience when it comes to living. I discovered my homosexuality during my teens during a period of Australian history of which the Queer Rights Movement was just being formed, and I was there for its formative years. I have many fond memories of that time, and despite the chaos, uncertainty and the fear that presided over the time I wouldn't change it for the world. Those years hardened my resolve and solidified my personality and I am more than thankful for those years. It was a rough time growing up in Sydney during that period where the public sentiment was one of resentment.
I was 26 years old when several hundred people marched down George Street in Sydney on Sunday the 24th June, 1978. The march was in recognition of an 'International Homosexual Solidarity Day' and it was a demonstration against the sexual repression of Queer people in both Australia and other countries around the world. I wasn't in that march, but that night I held my boyfriend’s hand and we smiled. That night, around 50 of my friends, my brothers and sisters were arrested. We did not have the same legal rights as what we do now. This event now occurs annually after being named the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. I lived through the HIV/AIDS crisis in Australia during the 80s. I watched my friends passing and disappearing, social networks fractured and fear running rampant through our lives. We stood, and we held hands, and we cried into the night, memorialising those who had passed with parties, and drugs. I stayed clean, and I stayed safe.
I went through boyfriends, lovers and partners. I went through men that, despite only staying in my life for a few months, would profoundly change my outlook and life. I was impressionable of sorts, and I'm of the belief that with every partner we go through, we change. We adopt some of their likes and dislikes, we form new ways of thinking as we experience new things. If you're reading this, I will assume that you're an older and mature gay male and that you're single and looking for love. You might not quite be near my years, but you certainly have more years than others.
We'll preface this article by saying that this is primarily a guide of sorts for men looking for long term love, dating and relationships. A lot of men aren't looking for love, and long term relationships or even interested in dating. This could be the result of many reasons including; the retaining of your independence, just come out of a relationship or lost your partner and you're simply not up for the complexities and challenges of a long term relationship and that's all well and good. You don't have to be in a long term relationship, you don't have to have a boyfriend, or a fuck buddy or any of those things. You can be perfectly content avoiding the relationships and other people and be satisfied with your erotic toys and gay porn collection. In a world of technology and dating applications such as Grindr, Scruff, Manhunt and craigslist, you can find exactly what you're after and you can choose to go after it.
This article is dedicated to the baby boomers/mature men looking for relationships and love whether that be for a new relationship, or even your first relationship. Many of the dating articles that are written for mature heterosexual men, will work for mature gay men, but it must be acknowledged that we have some unique considerations and points to consider as we traverse through the mature quest for love. As a retired clinical psychologist with nearly 30 years of experience, I have seen it all, and I have compiled a list of ideas that might make dating and the search for love just that little bit easier.
1. Know What You Want:-
The explosion of technology has made it easier to connect with people and develop new and unique social circles. Due to this, and the ability to meet many people in rapid succession, you need to be focused on what it is that you're after when it comes to dating, and ensure that you're connecting with like-minded people. Take a moment to consider what you want. You might be looking for a long term relationship, or you might be looking for someone to date because you want companionship and friendship. From there, you'll need to consider the type of people that you're attracted to. It might be those in your own generation, it might not be, it could be anyone and from anywhere. Once you have considered what you want, make it clear to others what you're after so that there's no confusion. This is the part where you need to be honest and open to not only yourself, but to others as well. Don't compromise what you want without a solid reason, otherwise you might find yourself entangled in something you're not really that interested in but cannot escape because they might get hurt. Avoid this scenario by only engaging with people that have similar relationship goals/interests – however, it also pays to not be too focused, which brings us to point two.
Be flexible in your 'requirements' that you're looking for in other people. One of the best things to do when it comes to online dating, is not to list your requirements at all. Just state a short spiel about yourself, and vaguely what you're after. You might spend a little more time talking to someone and getting to know them, but you're not going to be pipping them to the post and excluding them before they've even begun. You never know, that requirement that you had before might seem like a very small insignificant part of an individual that you can learn to negotiate around. For example, just because your partner likes to travel, or enjoys fetish sexual activities like the use of penis plugs, doesn’t mean that you should run for the hills. Even if you’re not into a particular activity or opinion, there might still be room for common ground
You're also going to need to be flexible in the choices of establishments that you visit if you're a fan of 'back in the day' dating where you meet people in person. Remember those times? Where you could meet the love of your life every night, and engage in some solid making out. Go to bars, or if you're not a fan of places with so much alcohol, join a community group/social group/hobby group and volunteer for LGBTIQ causes. If you're a city lad, then this is not going to be a problem in the slightest there are plenty of groups in Sydney which include the Sydney Guys Group. If you're a country/rural lad, then grab a computer (learn how to use it without breaking it) and use that to connect with people. Try a social network such as Facebook, or you could even join something like Fetlife. Fetlife is a social group for people with various sexual interests and that includes gay social groups, even if you’re not into fetishes or things like that it can still be a good place to mix socially. It might even give you reason to go on a holiday, or to bring someone up for the weekend. You might also like to try creating a club/interest group in your local area if you feel that there's a void.
3. Remember That There's Things You Can Control, And Things You Can't Control:-
We all have demons, and we might be carrying some extra baggage around. That baggage with the demons should not bring you down. If those demons are telling you that you are too old, that you're too fat, or that you're simply not good enough for a new relationship than those demons are going to plague you. There's no need to do that to yourself and you need to take solace in the fact that you have survived this far, that you have access to a computer to read this. As a psychologist, I have experienced countless patients that would be huge partakers in negative thinking. There are generally considered to be four main types of negative thinking which include; all or nothing thinking, disqualifying the positives, negative self-labelling, and catastrophizing. Read up on these ones and see how many, if any, that you subscribe to. From there it's about replacing negative thought patterns with positive thought patterns. We switch it from 'I am a fat old man' to, 'I'm going to the gym to be healthier'. This is one way to replace negative thinking patterns if you're finding that you're not comfortable in your body. At the end of the day, you need to find ways in order to be content with who you are, what you have, and ignore social stereotyping and stigma's. If you can narrow that down, and start feeling better about yourself, not only will your confidence levels skyrocket but it'll make it much easier to meet new people of any age.
Honesty is the best policy. Why? Because the more mistruths that you tell, the more that you'll have to remember and why bother with that? You might understand and recognise that some aspects of our community are youth obsessed and it's quite easy for mature people to feel left out, invisible or even marginalized. There's a whole mine field of BS out there which you can very quickly get caught up in yourself, and it’s going to cause problems. Do not partake in it. You might need to be patient, and you're going to need to be sure about yourself but you will meet someone that fits with you, and fills what you're looking for. Just don't lie, the internet and dating sites seem to believe that lying is a quintessential part of communication. So when it comes to basic things like your age, weight, your Socio Economic Status (There's no need to lie, overstate your economic status in the hopes of securing a youthful lad), do not lie. Whatever you say, they're going to find the truth out eventually. If you're up-front, you'll not only have the satisfaction of being honest, but you won't have to remember the stories.
5. There's Room For Everyone:-
If you think you're over the hills and far away in Love Lost land, then not only do we have to change your negative thinking, but we need to reassure you that there's someone for everyone and silver daddies are a very popular sub-culture! So if you're sitting there thinking that a beautiful individual is never going to give you a second glance, then think again. Yes, negative thinking is an easy state to be in, but it pervades life and becomes toxic very quickly. Remember how we mentioned community groups, and hobby groups and things like that? That’s one way. You can also attend clubs, bars and coffee houses whose clientele seems to specialise in mixed age relations. If you're in Sydney, the Midnight shift and Palms have always been renowned for the mixed age groups. Also, there's online dating websites specifically for mature gay men. So yes, there's no room for negative thinking and there's room for everyone!
6. Embrace Your Age:-
You're old. I'm old. Big deal. Your age is something that you're stuck with and you certainly can't change that (not even with plastic surgery) but what you can change are the thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards being old. You have a lot to offer both someone and the community - you have wisdom, life experiences and that equates to being able to offer a lot. Embrace new activities and change, and that will allow you’re self-talk to become more positive and give yourself less time to be bored which can equate to negative self-talk. Many people don't spend enough time making time for things that really enhance their life, and ideologies of self-care. Take the time to enjoy the activities that you like, engage in the hobbies that you want to, and simply embrace it. You don't have to be in a relationship if you don't want to be in one, and if you haven't been in one before and only been in male/female relationships then that's okay too - queer relationships are pretty much exactly the same.
7. Follow The Basic Recommendations For Heterosexual Boomers/Seniors:-
Some of the basic recommendations that are applied to our heterosexual cohort also apply to us. One of those points is in regards to safe sex. We've survived some of the biggest health crisis and yet there has been an alarming increase in the transmission of STI's and HIV infections for gay men over 50. Some of the theories around this are centred on the idea that mature gay men might feel that they're invincible, that they're too old to care, or that they're in a vulnerable state whereby any sexual attention is good attention and that sacrifice safe sex in favour of that. This is especially true after someone has had a few drinks. Safe sex is extremely important, and there's an article about it elsewhere in this site. So read up on it, and get the facts.