Monday, April 25, 2016

Can Gay People
Ever Master Aging Gracefully?

And wisdom is early to despair:
Be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done
To keep at bay
Age and age’s evils...

Good God, the mirror's a challenge. Gravity's relentless tugging and all those summer tans are conspiring with time. They dash in an unholy, unruly, triathlon of, well, let’s call it maturing. It’s not as if I wasn't warned. Beauty is only skin deep, and stay out of the sun. But, I must admit, gravity kind of surprised me. Unless a cliff was involved, I always thought it such a benign and helpful force. Gravity keeps everything in place and the heavenly celestial bodies orbiting as they should. But that sneak, gravity, eventually pulls your face, your butt, and everything else on your body in the absolutely wrong direction.
There’s no denying that sometimes it's hard to face your maturing face. I remember Dad looking at his reflection once and exclaiming, "Hell's bells, who is that old man?" I got it, but at the time I could only sympathize with his pain. Now I feel it too. The quest for graceful aging — and a salient belief in the truth of inner beauty — is officially urgent.
Our community is hilariously obsessed with physicality. Too often, only chiseled abs and chins need apply. A cold chill passes over me every time I see those sculpted couples in a print ad for gay cruises. Personally, I can imagine wearing a burka for the duration at sea. I suppose a full body cast could work too, and sympathy would be an effective icebreaker. It’s all so crazy, because I know we’re better than the form, reflected by light, off our skin. But I also know that very few people, including myself, don’t judge. Our first impression of others is their appearance, and as hard as I try, I still evaluate. We all do this, straight or gay, but I think gay people do it more and do it longer.
I think straight people are off the hook, once they have kids. Mom just went through a physical ordeal that’s unbelievable. Meanwhile, Dad’s done his thing. He goes to work and comes home and goes to work helping raise a family. He has to, because two incomes are the root for survival in America. Suddenly, there’s just no more gym time, and the little time left is dedicated to a well-deserved time-out with the recliner.
Gay folks, especially men, generally don’t have these societal fallback positions. We’re expected to die at the pec fly machine, working in that third set of 10 reps. And if we have to leave a button on our 501s unbuttoned, it can’t be the top button. We can only let people speculate if there’s not enough room for the bottom buttons.

The reality is the fine line between healthy fetishes and unattainable or unrealistic stereotypes. These aspirations and fetishes have to lose some grip as we grow older unless we want to be that mad, bitter queen in the skinny jeans, drinking alone.
Now, how do we do these things? How do we age gracefully? Who are our role models to guide us through the golden years? Why. it’s us, by golly! It’s up to you and me, and I think there are many paths down the golden yellow brick road.

Source: The Advocate, Kurt Niece, April 25, 2016

Richard Burton reads Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem 'The Leaden Echo & The Golden Echo'.


Anonymous said...

Dès que je lis le mot "communauté" ou "community", et pire "our community", je passe à autre chose. J'espère que vous ne m'en voudrez pas de donner ici mon opinion la plus réfléchie.

another country said...

Ai-je le choix ?...

another country said...

(Et vous avez remarqué qu'il s'agissait d'un billet d'humour et non d'un pensum philosophique...)

joseph said...

dès qu'on parle de sagesse, je pense à ces dents qui à peine écloses ont voulu quitter ma bouche tant mes propos étaient souvent inconciliables avec cette forme de raison, mais ce jeune homme a bien raison de se ronger les ongles plutôt que les sangs !

Anonymous said...

Je n'ai rien pu remarquer, étant passé sans lire dès que j'ai vu cette expression, qui ne m'a pas semblé être prise, elle, à contre-sens.
Comment vous, placer l'humour hors de la philosophie (ou la réciproque) !

another country said...

@ Joseph : Je suis personnellement plus sensible (malheureusement !) aux arguments de G. Manley Hopkins : "So be beginning, be beginning to despair."


HOW to kéep—is there ány any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, láce, latch or catch or key to keep
Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, … from vanishing away?
Ó is there no frowning of these wrinkles, rankéd wrinkles deep,
Dówn? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still messengers, sad and stealing messengers of grey?
No there ’s none, there ’s none, O no there ’s none, 5
Nor can you long be, what you now are, called fair,
Do what you may do, what, do what you may,
And wisdom is early to despair:
Be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done
To keep at bay 10
Age and age’s evils, hoar hair,
Ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, winding sheets, tombs and worms and tumbling to decay;
So be beginning, be beginning to despair.
O there ’s none; no no no there ’s none:
Be beginning to despair, to despair, 15
Despair, despair, despair, despair.