Sunday, December 8

AK Souffle: From sexism to ageism

- April 23, 2018

Peter_Pan,_by_Oliver_Herford,_1907

Last week I talked about sexism, a broad topic in almost every sense as we see it in every aspect of life, and I would say not only between genders but within. Sexism takes no sides, it is insidious and rampant still, which given that this is 2018 is pretty scary.

This week I want to go back to another vile force that is at work in the world and that is ageism. I know that some of you will laugh and suspect that I am concerned about this now I am in my sixties, and maybe that does inform my views. As a man of a certain age I become increasingly aware of ageism almost every day, and in particular when I see friends who are becoming less confident, less firm and less able. It’s happening to us all, there is no cure for the inevitable onset and the havoc that ageing rages on the human body.

I know I could have taken better care, exercised more, eaten less fat and drunk less booze, but to be honest my diet is pretty good and I do not drink much these days, preferring one good glass of wine to a bottle of plonk. The ravages of time are indiscriminate, my father was a fitness fiend with a strict regimen of exercise and a good diet, but he was seen off by heart conditions and chronic arthritis. A cruel fate to be sure.

All in the hope of being that eternal youth, the Peter Pansy

In the LGBT world the cult of youth is still rife, the pressure of having that ultra-fit body, glowing tan (real or fake), lush hair, perfect teeth… it’s all tyrannical, a force coming from a world committed to selling you stuff, from hair gel to, at the darker end of the scale, illegal drugs. And all in the hope of being that eternal youth, the Peter Pansy.

Does it make you happy, does the world look at the older man or woman working so hard to retain that youthful look and say “wow!”. Or do we look at them and think, “Oh dear, that looks rather odd, forced, unnatural”.

I suspect that it’s the latter, and not just because I have embraced my thickening waist and thinning pure white hair. I’m not really worried about how I look – yes you’re right, I do like to dress somewhat flamboyantly, as I say, once an art student always an art student.

The cult of youth, do I hate it? No of course not, I love the energy of youth – but I also love that here in Brighton & Hove we have a thriving community of older gay men and women who so actively keep this city as vibrant as it is. Their experience and energy, their culture and history are massively important – and their society is an essential part of who we all are, were and will be. Respect is the simple answer to ageism, in every walk of life.




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