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There has been some discussion in various gay magazines about older gay men in gay bars. One bright young thing wanted to ban us. He complained about being constantly chatted up by wrinkly old men no one would touch with a barge pole. Poor thing ! On a positive note, most of the comments which followed pointed out that without the efforts of older gay men, this rather silly young man  would not be enjoying the lifestyle which he has.

I visit gay bars probably about once a week. I am well aware that many times I am probably the oldest person in that bar. There are bars I would not go into, bars geared quite openly to very young men and where I would not feel comfortable. You know the sort of bars, lots of chrome where unsmiling, skinny bar staff,  inform you in a superior voice that they don't serve beer in pints, only bottles and most of the punters look as though they are in need of a good meal.

I've not so far come across any bad reaction from other customers or staff in more normal bars.. Perhaps I look younger than I am (we all like to think so !) but even if I did, It's still obvious I am not in the first flush of youth. I don't dress in skin tight lycra or go  for  trousers cut just below my knees. I'm not into baseball hats. I did wear one in the United States in Florida and felt quite OK with that. Wearing the same hat in London makes me look at pratt.

Equally, I don't wear cardigans, cord trousers or jackets with leather patches on the elbows. I don't have a pipe stuck sexily in the coner of my mouth or a trilby set at a jaunty angle on my head.

I don't chat up young twenty year old glamour guys. Even if there was the remotest possibilty they would whisk me off to their 'pad' or whatever one calls a bed sit these days, I don't think we would be on the same wave length sexually. Having enjoyed sex about 4738 times with third parties ( not all different I hasten to add in case you think me either a dirty slag or a lucky bastard), I really don't have a lot of time for playing the role of teacher or daddy. 

In fact I don't chat up anyone. I enjoy the surrounding, the music, the atmosphere. I do get talking to people and sometimes I do end up in bed with them but, and this is important, I don't set out in cold blood to pick up someone. If it happens great, if it doesn't so what ?. One more or less notch on the handle of the gun isn't the end of the world.

And that I think is the key to the acceptance of older gay men in a bar. If they do aggressively pick on other customers and make a nuisance of theirselves, they do deserve rejection. But then the silly behaviour of some egotistical young queens leaves a lot to be desired. I suspect these are the ones who will turn into exactly the kind of older men they despise.

In the meantime, I console myself with the fact that when I first came to London in the early eighties, I was 40 and told I was too old to do the scene.  I quickly found I wasn't. Those guys who told me I was too old are now all in their forties or fifties, older than I was then. It's a shame if they have mostly deserted the bar scene driven out by their own prejudices. One of the liveliest venues in London on a Saturday night is the Quebec. Pity there are not more places catering for the same mixed age crowd. Laugh at it if you will, but the luggage belt of life will take you there eventually.

August 2000

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