Dear Michael: 

I don’t want to get older. I look at old gay men and I don’t like what I see. I don’t want to die young (I’m 29) but I also don’t want to age. Already I see younger guys in their early twenties and feel that I’m on my way out. Who’s going to want me in ten or twenty years? The woman who cuts my hair is having a Botox party:  should I go?

 It says on one of your Facebook posts that you’re 66. As an old gay guy, are you happy with yourself? If so, how did you manage it?


Terrified to Get Older


Dear TTGO:

Sure, you can go to a Botox party. But, why are you so afraid to have some wrinkles?  What about being older terrifies you so much? If you use sunscreen and take reasonable care of yourself, you’ll probably age quite nicely and gradually. This will give you time to make peace with your body as it changes. Can you learn to love yourself at every age? If you can’t, you’re likely to be fighting every physical change tooth-and-nail.

Who’s going to want you in ten or twenty years? Look around at your peers. Hopefully, when you’re all forty or fifty, you’ll still find each other attractive. It helps a lot to like yourself and enjoy your own company.  

Very few of us are extremely beautiful. If you are, good for you! I hope you’re enjoying the hell out of it! Consider, however, all your OTHER good qualities and develop them too. It’s very hard to sustain the body/skin/face of a twenty-year-old, but you can develop your personality, intelligence, kindness, compassion, wisdom, flexibility and sense of humor until your last breath.

How do I feel as an old gay guy? Most of the time, I’m pretty happy: grateful for my good health, cozy home, friends I love and work that I truly enjoy. That said, this body is definitely changing! On a good day, the changes are okay with me. On a rough day, the changes make me sigh and remember how I used to be. Gratitude helps me refocus on what’s going well and ignore the things I can’t do anything about. I go regularly to the gym and yoga classes, but I go because it makes ME feel good.

How did I manage it? I had a lot of wild adventures in my twenties and thirties: traveling around Europe, Egypt, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, sleeping in youth hostels, hitchhiking, enjoying a very active sex life, working odd jobs in different countries and having lots of new experiences. I didn’t wait until retirement to travel and have fun.

I suggest the same to you: enjoy your life NOW so you don’t have regrets later. For example, during the years when I lived in New York, Paris and London, I used to go to work, come home around 6PM, sleep until 11PM, go out to clubs with my friends, come home about 3AM, sleep some more and go to work the next day. I did this 3-5 nights a week: I was in my twenties and thirties and had lots of energy. Needless to say, I could never pull this off now. And that’s okay: I lived that way when if felt right; I live quite differently today.

In over fifty years of working, I’ve had several careers: writer/psychotherapist is the most recent. I enjoyed my previous careers too; each one taught me something useful: singing in nightclubs taught me how to be comfortable in front of a crowd; working as a personal shopper, I learned a lot about psychology; and by teaching fashion merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology (in NYC), I got good at communicating ideas to large groups of people.

Life can become richer and more rewarding as we grow older, wiser and more true to ourselves. Our work, friends and interests change as we do.  Getting older can be really wonderful, if you’re willing to enjoy each step on the path…

…and when in doubt: try saying this to yourself, “I am willing to love myself and enjoy my life at every age” and see what happens!