Letters

Imagephoto: roger wingfield

Hi.  I searched.  I read.

It was funny, offbeat, intriguing.  A lot of it.  But I’m wondering if it’s okay to say there was something troubling in there as well? 

I was reading the letter to you from Kevin bemoaning the racist attitudes he encounters among gay men.  You were – justifiably – sensitive to his concerns and gave a mostly reasoned response.  That disturbed me in his letter were the ageist comments, especially given that he was complaining about people stereotyping Asians.  I felt sad that he needed to stereotype older men.  What was more troubling was your compounding of those stereotypes in your response to him (“weirdos who are decades older”). 

Image

It’s a destructive image that plays itself out in sites like Grindr, where some men make assumptions merely based on age, with no other facts to back up those assumptions.

You seem like a thoughtful person.  I doubt you really believe that all older men are ‘weirdos’ or ‘creepy’ or that all weirdos are actually older men.  So, I’d just ask you to be as thoughtful in how you address ageism as your are in addressing racism.

Thanks for listening.

A.Y.

Image

Hey A.Y.,

Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing in.

You’ve brought up a very valid point, and given me quite a bit to think about.

I’d like to clarify that I never said that all older men are creepy or weird.  I said that I had been hit on by creepy weirdos who were decades older than me.  I’ve also been hit on my creepy weirdos my own age, and jerks who are much younger than me.  Also, I’m sure that at some point, to someone, I’ve been the creepy weirdo.

Image

I’m not going to be dismissive of your point – that Kevin’s letter had some ageist sentiments, or that by sympathizing with him on certain points I appear to condone ageism.  That certainly wasn’t my intent, even if it came off that way.  I don’t condone ageism.

I think that we, as a gay community, could certainly stand to exhibit more tolerance, sensitivity, and kindness toward each other.   I’m sorry if Kevin’s letter (or my response) offended or hurt your feelings in any way.  That wasn’t my goal.  I can’t speak for Kevin, but I’ve corresponded with him a bit, and he’s a bright, kind fellow – I don’t think he was trying to hurt people when he penned his letter.

ImageThis does, however, lead me to my secondary point.  Intent.

Kevin expressed to me, in an email, that he’s tired of ‘creepy guys… that are older’ hitting on him all the time.  I agree with you, that it might come off as an insensitive, ageist statement – but I don’t think his intent was to be hurtful. He was just expressing frustration in an email to me.  If anything, I’m to blame, for making it public on my site, and seeming to sympathize in my response.

I think there’s a difference between that, and making ‘ching chong’ jokes in public, to someone’s face, because you’re mortified that an Asian tried to talk to you.  The difference being intent.  When you do that, you’re purposefully trying to be hurtful – and I think that’s kind of evil.

Image

This dialogue is very helpful, A.Y..  You’ve certainly given me pause. We could stand to examine ageism in the gay community, and I do think we could better police the offhanded remarks we make, especially in public and on the internet. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.

If I were to substitute race for age, I’d be uncomfortable making a similar statement. “I get hit on my a bunch of creepy weird Asians,” probably wouldn’t fly.

Even so – this last bit of observation begs an entirely more frivolous question:

Where are the creepy weird Asians when you need them?

(Seriously – get at me.  Jerks.)

Image

Image

5 thoughts on “Letters

  1. One thing that sucks about a White person calling Asian people creepy is that the White person doesn’t have to make any effort to understand what it is like to be Asian. One can be very hateful and never really suffer any consequence except maybe not learning to see the beauty in the person they reject.

    Ageism in the workplace is terrible and unfair. In bars… I’m not so sure. If someone wants to date somone they consider an equal that might mean being in roughly the same phase of life as themselves. If a 42 year old says they are thinking and doing the same things as a 22 year old I hear “In 22 years I haven’t matured in any appreciable way.” Also I think a lot of the people who cry ageism won’t date their own age becuase they feel that they have this special youthful quality that sets them apart from their peers. Vomit.

    I’m in my 30’s and when I was in my early 20’s I wanted to date people who figuring out what kind of life they were goin go build, and going to every amazing club opening, anniversary, birthday party and closing. I appreciate that but at 15 years in NYC, I’d prefer to date someone who has interests beyond nightlife, still likes to plan adventures and has enough enthusiasm to fill their life with something besides shopping, cooking or re-doing their kitchen. I feel like that is pretty typical of someone in their 30’s.

    Happily unlike racism, there is a bit of justice in the world when it comes to ageism. Those you judge, you become. Don’t worry too much about young people who judge you, they’ll be old one day, and (I hope) probably more unhappy because they lost their youth which they thought was an essential part of them.

    I see tons of younger guys that I’d love to bed because they’re hot but I understand why they would want to be with their own.

  2. Pingback: Letters | QClick Radar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s