It saddens me that our contemporary gay world is such an agephobic kingdom, because as we advance into our twilight years accruing life experience and achieving our goals, we’ll be under the unrealistic pressure to look youthful and evergreen to maintain our appeal to men in the LGBTI fraternity.

Some of the hottest guys on earth, namely Brad Pitt and Jason Statham, are well into their roaring 40s and still looking as gorgeous as ever, but these celebrities are heterosexual pin-ups, adored by women and envied by straight men the world over. Yet in the gay world it’s the barely-legal poster-boys fanning the fire of our desires.

We’ve all drooled over the pubescent pics of Brent Corrigan at least twice in our lives from his early work in Falcon Studios productions, Skins stars Mitch Hewer and Luke Pasqualino are modern-day gay sex symbols, and even sex with Justin Bieber is a more fancied fantasy in our gay subculture than copulation with Rupert Everett or George Clooney.

We have a severe shortage of older gay icons to admire. It seems many of us shun the notion that gay men can still look hot at any age — when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Genetically speaking, men develop marionette lines, crow’s feet and sagging jowls much later than women. It’s also easier to attain herculean muscle mass in our late 20s and 30s than in our late teens or early 20s, and flecks of silver in the hair of middle-aged men can really accentuate their skin tone.

Associate Professor Garrett Prestage, a sociology and sexuality expert from the University of New South Wales, believes while we’re biologically inclined to desire youthful beauty, we should create opportunities for gay elders to distribute their messages to young people.

“We need to find ways to celebrate older gay men more effectively so they feel valued and validated,” Prestage says. “The gay community would be strengthened by ensuring that we learn from history and then we’d have more than just super-hot sex symbols — we’d also have role models that apply in other aspects of our gay lives as well.”

Prestage believes many of younger men are yearning for senior gay role models.

“I think young gay men have a real appreciation of what older gay men have done for them — even if they also get annoyed by older men ‘perving’ at them.”

When I’m out at a bar chatting to blokes for the first time, the question ‘so how old are you?’ is inevitably asked — and the answer always arouses my suspicion. Even mates of mine in their 30s often shave half decades off their ages when they’re approached by pretty young things at pubs and clubs.

Instead of bullshitting to prospective partners, why can’t we all be immensely proud of our real ages? The epidemic of agephobia will continue to haunt our society for generations to come.

I’m 24 and, although that’s young in my books, to some I’m already over the hill. I often wonder, do we simply lust after inexperienced, young men because they’re untainted by the gay culture and ‘promiscuous’ way of life? Do men subconsciously want younger men to make our gay Lolita fantasies a reality?

If we spent less time worrying about men’s ages and stressing over our own chronological clock, we could work together to overcome the crucial obstacles we collectively face in the LGBTI community.

INFO: Robert Edward Smith is a 24-year-old communications graduate, freelance writer and bisexual advocate for equality based in Melbourne.

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