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COLUMN: Being gay, older and happy
When young you heard these words with disbelief from older gays – “you too will get old one day”. Sure enough, time catches up with us all eventually. We remember in our youth looking in the mirror and seeing a beautiful face, rejoicing with anticipated excitement of the life ahead. But now that time has rolled on, how do we accept our present age? How do we grow old gracefully and happily?
Getting older allows you the luxury to look back and assess your life, reflecting on the times you were personally tested with life’s difficulties. You can feel very proud you got through them. You can’t beat experience for learning the lessons of acceptance.
As you get older you also get to reflect on what is really important about a life well lived. Money, status, career and material things, aimed for in our youth, seem less important than feeling connected to others and personally validated in the world with love and respect.
By now you have hopefully developed and maintained close contact with old friends and navigated what can be a tricky journey around your family. When we are younger some of us feel compelled to leave our family to come to terms with our new gay identity and escape judgment. Later in life, however, most of us are drawn back to our family to feel more connected to our ancestry and heritage.
A spiritual connection to ourselves is also important as we age, and I do not necessarily mean organised religion. Personal spirituality can be about developing a value system that reflects being a worthy person, caring about others and having a sense of positive morality. And it is never too late to develop a spiritual identity. Knowing and living this spiritual connection makes getting older so much easier and you can’t get to this knowledge without life experiences.
Ask yourself – would you really want to go back and be 20 again? Admittedly, when you see so much beauty in the faces of the young, it can be difficult to accept getting older and restricting yourself, maybe quite happily, from places that were once visual adventure grounds of flirtation.
For the young reading this column, take some comfort that life as it unfolds will grant you ongoing insight and experience that will shape your character. For others marching on with time, like me, reflect on what is a life well lived. Love and respect, a feeling of being connected to the people in our lives and having a spiritual understanding of life are worthy pursuits over material possessions.
Getting older allows us to feel more comfortable in our own skin as the years go by and it is a wonderful gift. And no matter your age, it is never too late to reconnect with family and old friends. It is never too late to become a worthy person and develop a sense of a gay life well lived. Most of us have seen it all.