At the recent Equality Virginia Commonwealth Dinner, there were a good number of younger members of the LGBT community. As an honoree, I found them to be universally respectful and pleasant. Since the event tends to draw those of a more activist bent, I suspect many were simply more inclined to be respectful of older activists. The same cannot be said for young gays in clubs and some social settings. Indeed, older members of the community are often greeted with nastiness and almost a form of condescension aimed at those of us no longer in our 20's or early 30's - young and beautiful, if you will. By their standards, when I came out and first engaged with the LGBT community shortly after my 50th birthday, I was already ready for the grave and certainly not an object for romantic interest. Since then, I feel I have made contributions to the LGBT community and have tried to make a different. Not to sound peevish, many of the young club boys cannot say the same. Some even seem oblivious to the threats facing our community and the need for activism and more than shallowness. Attitude magazine looks at a new movie "Prime Time" that looks at the vibrancy of gays of a certain age who likely would never get a second glance from many of today's gay youth. Here are excerpts:
Most of my film works up till now have been set among groups of older people, primarily older men – railway enthusiasts, model car racers, hobbyists seeking friendships and affinities in local clubs or like-minded communities, or, in the case of one film, retired people out taking early-morning exercise. I am drawn to the unseen rituals that characterise these various social interactions, and the unspoken codes and signs that bind individuals to these groups. But I have always also been struck by the energy and vitality and self-confidence of the people I have met, and who I have featured in my films. While I like to step back, with my camera, and observe the quirks of human behaviour, I also want to highlight and celebrate that energy and vitality and self-confidence – especially at a time when those qualities are increasingly associated with (and commodified in) a cult of youth.
If this exaggerated focus on youth is an inescapable part of mainstream culture, it is, even more, the case perhaps on the gay scene. For a couple of years now, I have been following and befriending an American network of older gay men, known as ‘Prime Timers’. It’s a largely Stateside phenomenon to date, in which members of the community get together on a regular basis to go on group excursions together. One of these, a Caribbean cruise, is the subject of my latest film, ‘Prime Time’.
While making the film, once again I found myself in the company of people who had time on their hands, but who also, in their latter years, clearly exhibited a real zest for life. As a younger gay man, alert to the pressures exerted by a physical ideal that people are meant to find desirable or aspire to possess, I wanted to show a different aspect by portraying the marks and contours of older male bodies in a sensual, affirmative way. I was in the presence of people who were totally comfortable in their own skin, and I wanted to convey that sense of self-possession and ease, and its attractiveness to me.
The film got me thinking more generally about the question of how and when we can properly say we are in the prime of our lives. You can be young and fit, buff and gym-toned, absolutely at your physical peak, but do your best years still lie in front of you, when your physical powers may be starting to diminish, but the wider experience you have accumulated more than compensates? I reflected on this through the mirror of the cruise ship itself: a little utopia floating on the ocean, in which time seems to both fill out, and stand still.
Although ‘Prime Time’ can be summed up in a snappy one-liner – ‘it’s a film about cruising on a cruise ship.’ – it’s also my attempt to grapple with something more universal, even existential: how we both measure and deny the passing of time.
Let me say it first. Yes, I confess that I typically post "male beauty" photos of young guys. There are several reasons, the first being that it is very hard to find quality sexy, racy photos of mature/older guys. For finding photos, the choices tend to be x-rated "daddy" porn sites that are generally too risque for Blogger if one wants to remain a non-mature website (and most of the men are beefy, football player types - a body type that frankly does nothing for me) or hair style/color product models. Of course, this scarcity of older male models in and of itself underscores the larger problem of America's cult of youth.