I thought I would give marriage equality a rest for a week or two. Someone commented that this column seems to focus obsessively on the subject. Sorry about that. Equal protection under the law occasionally grabs my attention and I like to share my thoughts. Fortunately, protection for a new demographic group of which I am also a member, caught my attention this week. It’s frightening, it’s rarely spoken of in polite circles and almost no gay man will admit to being a member. It’s the older than 30 crowd.
It seems some random twink blogger in Los Angeles named Dalton Heinrich has not only published a piece condemning the 30-somethings and beyond among the gay male population, he actually doubled down on his statement in what was purported to be a retraction of sorts.
The controversy began when he wrote the original piece entitled “Gay Men and the Curse of the Peter Pan Syndrome.” The piece is essentially an indictment on the older club crowd whom Heinrich accuses of not providing him with an acceptable role model for his life. In short he says, “The abundance of thirty and forty somethings that attend nightclubs persistently and dress like they are going to a college frat party is astounding. Instead of the Botox, barhopping and H&M wardrobes; why as a culture, are the majority of us not having children and planning our futures?”
He goes on to observe, “The sad, thirsty man haunting the shadows of 18-and-up clubs is slowly killing our culture. When my generation of gays gets older are we going to think that is the normal thing to do with our nights? Are we all destined to be ghosts of our youth, dramatically hunting down a thrill rather than being man enough and brave enough to go toward the light and move on to actually being an adult?”
I would like to respond first of all by saying: bitch, please. Heinrich lives in the Los Angeles area and while I am quite familiar with the West Hollywood club scene, I can also say that the culture is the same everywhere. As long as we have had the right to assemble in a club without fear of being arrested simply for being there and being identified as gay, we have made a pledge, as my Robbie would say, to turn up. And turn up we do.
For Heinrich’s theory that we are all driven by some obsessive Peter Pan Syndrome to have any measure of validity, he would have to take the time to interview the very people he is accusing. Since there is no mention of said interviews, I am going to assume he is writing based on his somewhat limited 20-something-year-old observation of the world and what motivates people who frequent the bars.
If he took a moment to talk to the people he accuses of killing our culture, he would find college professors, news anchors, bank officers and a host of other professionals along with those who have simply shown up at a job with the same company for the last 10 or 20 years. If he took the time to ask them, he would also find out that many of us also have children. In some cases, our children are his age or older.
Heinrich doesn’t seem to be a student of history as much as he is a student of pop culture. In his article he sees a sea of aged gay men who refuse to come to terms with the passing of their youth based solely on their appearances. Unfortunately, he misses the broader picture. He doesn’t see the people who were working for marriage equality and equal protection for the LGBTQ members of our military when he was still asking Santa Claus for a Furby. Nor does he recognize the people who see the clubs as an affirmation of everything that they have worked for through the years. In addition, there are also the people who do not come out of the closet until later in life and they should certainly not be denied the unparalleled experience that is the gay dance club.
It is also important to note that 30-plus crowd can mentor the younger crowd in other ways. We know how to tip our servers and bartenders and we typically know how to party responsibly. Do I know people who are 30 or 40 and still party like they are 21? Of course. But that is definitely not a gay thing and my only response to them is: “make sure I’m on your VIP list.”
I’m not sure if Heinrich has been the object of unwanted advances by older gentlemen in the clubs he frequents. Based on his professional head shot, he could have been produced at the Justin Bieber cookie cutter factory - and for some people that look works. He bemoans the lack of adult role models and father figures in his life while at the same time judging and dismissing every candidate he sees.
The gay community is complex and interdependent. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to start dismissing and excluding people we consider to be too old for inclusion. Somewhere out there in the crowd of Botox-worshipping, Hollister-wearing mortgage bankers and sales managers, there is a guy older than 30 who is wondering which one of the shot-pounding, Lady Gaga-loving twinks is going to be the one who will pick up the torch of equality and continue to carry it forward.
Out & About
Friday, Aug. 29 & Saturday, Aug. 30 – Pulse Ultra Club hosts its Annual Labor Day Weekend Party. Events include Happy Hour specials starting at 5 p.m. and Breonna Tenae’s Midnight Cabaret.
Tuesday, Sept. 2 & Tuesday, Sept. 9 - Prime Timers of Myrtle Beach will host its weekly card game at 2 p.m. For the location of the game for each day, go to: www.primetimersww.com.
Friday, Sept. 5 - Takeover Grand Strand will celebrate the next First Friday Happy Hour from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Second Avenue Pier located at 110 North Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach.