Aging gracefully with a queer perspective
Our Utah queer community is vibrant, relevant, and a huge part of the amazing shift occurring in our city, state, country and world. It is with deep thanks to QSaltLake that this “Queer Shift” article will now be featured and hopefully help us navigate all that life has to offer — who can embrace the shifts that happen in our lives.
I spent half of my life being a big secret-keeper; in 1994, during a year of tremendous shifting and upheaval I made an exactly bound decision to spend the rest of my life being a truth-teller. I recently read a book that was highly recommended to me by another truth-teller. Roger Rosenblatt’s Aging Gracefully. Rosenblatt is the winner of a Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize, a Peabody Award, an Emmy and two George Polk awards. He writes essays for Time magazine and for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. I quickly ordered it and then devoured it. Upon arrival, I admit I didn’t necessarily appreciate the title, having to acknowledge I was indeed entring the phase of life that experts categorize as ‘the young-old.’
The author boldly offers up a whopping 56 rules for wisely navigating life into your golden years. Rule No. 1 is the best, when it comes to queer shifting — “it doesn’t matter.” “It doesn’t matter that what you think. Follow this rule and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid. If you were having a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cockeyed or your lover looks at you cockeyed, if you are cockeyed. If you don’t get that promotion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t matter.” Tremendous aging wisdom. Rule No. 1 requires a huge mindset change for all of us as well, particularly in a queer culture obsessed with youth, beauty, perfection, being in the know, A-list, informed! Seeing, really seeing and understanding “it doesn’t matter” demands change. I am a believer that change and choice are the only two real constants in life.
Change is not in the opposites we as humans tend to crave and gravitate toward. Not in the totality of good or bad, right or wrong, love or hate, liberal or conservative, all or nothing, fresh or dried, organic or processed, truth or lie, lightness or darkness. You must see the gray! Gray, gray, gray, gray and gray – in all its shades; boring slate, sea serpent, storm cloud, morning fog, serious gray, Wall Street, steel, Gibraltar, granite, evening shadow, and according to Sherwin Williams — 56 other varieties. Because the very shift in aging, the necessary change, the new direction, the many compromises, the collaboration and cooperation, the little wins, the one heart changed at a time, the better person, home, community, county — all live in the that vast, vast gray — which is life! Life is gray, unsure, non-absolute, unclear, there for each of us to detect and determine. Embrace the gray. That is life.
You’re 30-something, navigating your 40s, sliding into your 50s or beyond and that question keeps nagging at you: Is this all there is as a gay man? Being fabulous has become overrated. Hooking up serves a purpose but doesn’t lead to everlasting contentment. Having it all just isn’t … well … filling the void(s). Your intuition constantly tickles you with visions of authentically living with greater purpose, but distracting voices taunt you off track. Question yourself, see if any of these ding your dong!
- It will be too much work to change who I am.
- My inner circle will reject me.
- Being more authentic is boring.
Truth is, you don’t know until you try it. Just like you didn’t know until you came out of the closet what would happen, or how you would feel, until you did it!
So, considering surrendering to an “it doesn’t matter” mindset, embracing the enormous spectrum of gray life, and engaging in real, sincere personal change — what are you feeling? Possibly curious, wishful, inspired? Confused, unsure, or intimidated? Resolute, determined, ready?
Ready to move? Take action, and be more than another shade of gay? The queer shift can only happen by living your truth, relishing your freedom, and living your powerful, passionate purpose each and every day.
Stay tuned, remain committed to questioning the life you not only want, but equally grounded in the life you need.