THE stigma around ageing in the LGBTI community is rarely discussed, a fact that struck Dion Teasdale when he turned 40.

“In a time when so much of our communication is online and digital, the way you look and present yourself out into the world seems to be increasingly important,” he told the Star Observer.

 “When you’re ageing your body’s going one way, but your Grindr profile is going the other, and I wasn’t seeing a lot of discussion around that.”

It was this idea that prompted Teasdale to write, direct, and produce Gone, a stage comedy that follows a gay writer who wakes up one morning to discover his penis is missing. It will premiere in Melbourne next week as part of the Midsumma Festival.

Teasdale said he was interested in exploring the ways body image and ageing were navigated in the gay community, particularly on hook-up apps like Grindr.

“The play looks at what would happen if a gay man with an active sex life, who makes a living writing erotic gay stories, were to wake up one morning and lose the thing that’s the centre of his world,” he said.

“You hear a lot about when people meet up through apps they say the guy wasn’t how he presented himself… there’s a pressure on people to present themselves a certain way to get the date or make the connection.

“I think that’s an odd pressure, and it doesn’t seem very healthy.”

Gone also explores how gay men go about forming meaningful relationships in today’s society.

“Having a cock is very much the currency that gay men trade with,” Teasdale said.

“If you don’t have a big, hard, cock, what value do you have in the gay world… it’s an extreme premise, but an idea that’s very universal.

“[The play] grapples with the ways people connect with each other and to their own self worth.”

Gone won the inaugural Playtime Queer Theatre Competition run by Midsumma and Gasworks last year, which helped bring Teasdale’s play it to life for this year’s festival.

He believes the story will resonate with a wide audience: “While the play is specifically looking at a character as he deals with ageing in a world dominated by dating apps, muscle worship, and dick size, the play’s really asking more universal questions.”

After Midsumma Festival Gone will then head to Brisbane for another tour.

Gone is on February 3-6 at Gasworks Theatre in St. Kilda. Grab your tickets here.

The Star Observer is a proud media partner of Midsumma.

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