2 min

When the young date the old

How does racism fit in?

“I speak bluntly and don’t give a damn about political correctness. I never have,” said John Allan Lee, one of four panelists at a Feb 29 forum on Aging In A Youth Culture.

Lee was responding to a question from audience member Yair Mukamal, who raised eyebrows when he talked about politicizing sexual attraction. Mukamal said that older people are reproducing ageism in the way looks and ageism and racism combine.

“People generally refuse to look at sexual attraction as politicized,” Mukamal said. “But it’s not uncommon to see young gay Asian males with 40- to 50-year-old white males. There seems to be a trade-off.”

Lee answered: “It’s perfectly fair for an Asian to look for something an older gay man has to offer – elders are respected in some middle-eastern and Asian societies.

“Everyone should have the right to do what they like to do,” said Lee. “I’m definitely a looksist. I don’t believe you can politicize sexual attraction. Like Archie, I know what I like. I like younger men.

“We’re here about ageism not racism. Most of the gay men in Toronto, growing up 55 years ago, have grown up in a white society.”

The talk, sponsored by the Family Care Office and the Office Of LGBTQ Resources And Programs at the University Of Toronto, was the latest attempt at getting the issues off the ground. Support for three previous groups for gay oldsters have dwindled.

Aging gay women had similar yet different issues to discuss.

“Homophobia seems to be constantly present in older life,” said Jean Duncan-Day, a panelist who, at 68, began a long distance relationship with a woman she met in Provincetown.

Duncan-Day is in her early 70s. She says it’s important to plan wisely for your old age at a young age.

Her voice barely audible above a whisper and trembling at times, Duncan-Day talked about declining health, the break-up of her two-year-long relationship and hard-to-find affordable housing.

Duncan-Day said that although she’s a social worker, she wasn’t at all prepared for her losses.

“Back in the closet – isolated – I lose it.”

Tired of the “macho male” bar scene, Duncan-Day found gay bars too smoky and the strobe lights didn’t help. (She discovered the smoke-free dances held at the YMCA, where she prefers the early start time and the music.)

Two of her four children do not speak to her. Her third believes that Duncan-Day is living in sin and is trying to “save” her.

The much younger Jude Tate presented the results of work done for her thesis: “Invisibility is an immense issue,” Tate said of women over 55. “We must recognize the impact of internalized homophobia and how internalized homophobia may restrict some.”

Issues that top the list of concerns are health care, finances, access to services, transportation, housing and elder abuse.

“They’re has-beens,” said Tate, the coordinator of LGBTQ resources and programs at U of T.

The 519 Church Street Community Centre’s Jack Harmer said invisibility and retreating into the closet are common. The 519 is reviewing service needs for older homosexuals.