A few weeks ago our community was “rocked" by another one of its vacuous controversies. Impulse Group South Florida, an organization that focuses on HIV education and prevention, as well as the sexual and overall health of the gay community, hosted a pool party at the Vagabond Hotel in Miami, bringing their educational efforts to the historic location.
Those wishing to attend the event who were under the age of 40, were admitted free, but if you were a 41-year-old or older then a $50 surcharge applied. Talk about “educating” the young.
It didn't take long for the shitstorm to start, squarely dividing the community into “under" and "over." Even the publisher of this newspaper jumped into the fray with his misguided editorials in support of the group's policy. Controversy is good because it gives rise to some sort of dialogue if not an exchange of ideas. Not that anybody is going to switch sides. To admit that one is wrong is anathema in American culture anyway. Of course it is a free country and of course there is still no cure for stupidity.
Setting aside the silliness of it, what it boils down to is that once again a wing of the gay community has shown its shallower side.
I was not enraged, like many, by the fact that people like me, over 40, had to pay to get into the party, while the “young studs" could get in for free.
It is a subtle form of bully-ism and discrimination that should be condemned but, personally, I have very little desire to spend an afternoon, let alone $50, with a bunch of air heads who have nothing to say and are busy taking and posting "lonelys" of themselves.
Their conversations around the pool, digital or real, probably did not exceed 140 characters. If I want their company I will do it in the privacy of my home by watching a porno DVD with the sound off.
The underlying truth is different. Young homosexuals are obsessed with age and frightened by the process of aging to the point of not wanting to associate with older men (referred to as "trolls" by one of the attendees) as if they carried a contagious disease. Their arrogance hides fear.
Just young, beautiful people forever, right? Bullshit. They are scared of starting their future, scared of the responsibilities one day they will have to tackle, scared of losing their look. They are more scared of getting old than catching AIDS. They live in a fallen universe. I pity them and their insecurities. The mantra they keep telling themselves is: Forever Young.
A battle that everybody loses, over and over, as each day comes to a close.
The gym, the diet, the steroids, the clothes, the hair, the blond hair, early Viagra, then Botox, are some of the tools. It is so consuming and it doesn't work. They become caricatures of themselves. It's the drama of living outside of time and reality.
Aging is the most natural thing in life and with taxes and death one of the few certainties we have. I have enjoyed my youth. I did not obsess over it. In fact I have cherished the progression of time. Each year brings a new ache but also a new discovery.
The mind and the soul gain in wisdom, knowledge, capacity to understand people and the world. I am able to slow down the pace and appreciate life in full. I don't need or want to pay the price of admission because of what my ID card says. I know I am still young inside, where it truly matters. I am very comfortable with myself, who I am, what I do, what I don't do, what I have done.
Yes, there are mornings when I look in the mirror that I briefly curse the new lines on my forehead, the bags under my eyes or the sprouting of another gray hair in the most unlikely place, but then I realize that's me, that's who I am, I cannot lie to myself.
Father Time doesn't care one way or another. He would be charged admission at one of the Impulse parties. I can hear him laugh his head off at their delusions. In the meantime I love my rugged "lived-in" face. It is the mirror of my soul and that's what I want the world to see.
I am not ashamed of it.
Memo to the Impulse Group: thank you guys but I’d rather spend 50 bucks on a good bottle of red wine.