‘Memes’ and en passant comments by some ‘nouveaux gay men’ have recently, for the past few years to be correct, shown an extremely worrying trend. By no means everybody, but a consistent and persistent fraction of the younger men in the gay community seems to think that ageism is acceptable. Well, let me tell you; it is not!
Age discrimination has many faces; from the first question on your dating app of choice, sometimes followed by immediate blocking, to the outright insult of a person’s nature based on whichever year he or she happens to have been born in. Yet, one thing is certain; it has to stop. Both The Huffington Post (18th April 2015) and Queerty (5th May 2015) have already spoken out against this issue.
These are the people, men and women, who, sometimes even before you were born, fought for your rights. Now, in many, but by no means not all countries, you can be openly gay, for sure a great achievement, but not one to take for granted. These comments almost invariably come from young gay men who live in places where you can walk the streets hand in hand without having stones thrown at you (not a nice episode of my life to recollect, let me tell you). Whenever you hold your boyfriend’s hand in public, you should remember the old guard, those men and women who met in bars and pubs with windows boarded up, those men and women who did not have it easy, who risked, sometimes even died for you to hold hands in public without fear.
Instead, far too often, the nouveau gay has become the bully of the old guard, and of other people who fought for this right. Not only does this portray us by bad stereotypes, as ‘bitchy’ and shallow, which does not do our community any favour, but it is also dangerous. If you do not know the history of your own community, certainly you will still have noticed how fast the tide has changed in our favour in many, but not all, countries. Do not assume that this change is permanent; keeping one’s rights is as important as gaining them, and turning form bullied to bully only gives ammunition to those who still have some issues with you and your boyfriend holding hands. If you cannot stop this insane trend for moral reasons, do it for selfish ones.
In the end, you will be ‘old’ sooner than you think, and those who are now fighting against ageism now are yet again paving the way for you to have a better future. They fought for the rights you now have in the past; now they are fighting for the rights you will have in the future. If you are ageist, you are simply on the wrong side of history.
The invitation is open; join the next step of our fight, the battle to show the world that there is much more to us than good looking bitchy young men; there is a whole culture, there is a set of values we learned (or should have) in decades of discrimination, values that spell everybody’s right to be treated with dignity and respect. Next time you see an older person, think, think how she or he has a history to share, sometimes your own history. Stop dividing and start sharing.