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Archives for : January2016

Special 5th Friday Event: Game Night With WiTT

Come out and join Gay District and our sister group, Women in Their Twenties (WiTT) this Friday, January 29 for a special game night. We facilitators will bring a several card and board games, but please feel free to bring your favorite to share. The games will begin at 8pm at the DC Center.

Hope to see you out and stay warm!

Cradle Robbing and Gold Digging: Age Differences in Relationships

Cradle Robbing and Gold Digging: Age Differences in Relationships

age gap

 

Have you come across that meme that says:

“Madonna is 55 and her boyfriend is 22, Tina Turner is 75 and her boyfriend is 40, J-Lo is 43 and her boyfriend is 26, Mariah Carrie is 44, her husband, 32. Still Single??? Don’t worry, your boyfriend hasn’t even been born yet.”

 

It kind of gets one to thinking about the “age”-old questions of age gaps in relationships. For heterosexuals there’s a long and well-noted history of May-December romances with an older man and a sprightlier woman, though the cultural connotation always seems to be negative. Take the movie First Wives Club, where the three heroines are thrown together after each one’s husband leaves them for a younger woman. The movie plays off the cultural premise that the middle-aged women aren’t as valuable as the youthfully attractive women their husbands take after. Don’t worry, the first wives get their redemption in the end, but you get the idea; older men, usually fiscally successful ones, will ditch women their own age to ‘rob the cradle’ to have a pretty young thing on their arm.

 

But what about the ‘gold diggers’? We could all name a couple of real-life anecdotes such as former Playboy Bunny Anna Nicole Smith who, at 26, married Texas billionaire Howard Marshall in his 89th year. Can we assume she was gold digging? Well maybe yes, maybe no, but after he died Marshall didn’t leave Smith any money. Zero. Even after a decade of litigation, and Smith’s death, all the attempts to gain that gold didn’t pan out. It remains to be seen if Crystal Harris, third wife of infamous Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner, will fare better than Smith: Harris and Hefner have an age gap of 60 years between them.

 

The flip side of relationships with age gaps (in heterosexuals) is an older woman with a studly young man. The movie Sunset Boulevard is one of the earliest cultural examples of this pairing, with an older well-established woman with a younger man who benefited from her financial affections. It didn’t end too well for either person in that couple, and maybe that ending reflected a societal disapproval of ‘cougar’ relationships. But that was then, and Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (16 year age gap) are a strong modern-day example that seems to show more societal acceptance. There was even a tv show called Cougar Town that began based around older women ‘hunting’ younger men.

 

What about gay couples? Are age gaps common among us? Do same-sex couples have larger age gaps than straight couples? To answer that we need some data.

 

The analysis website FiveThirtyEight, formerly part of the New York Times and now owned by ESPN, published a brief but insightful response to a reader who asked about age differences for both gay and straight couples. In her reply the author pulled on data from the 2014 Current Population Survey which is administered by the US Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since this survey doesn’t post stats on gay couples (supposedly raw data is available but by request only) the author delved into some stats that Facebook ran based on user ages and relationship status. Those numbers showed that same-sex couples definitely had higher rates of age-discordant couples than straight couples, and within age gap pairings same-sex couples tended to have larger gaps between partners than their hetero peers (gay male couples with a partner in their mid-30’s to mid-40’s had the highest age gaps of all three groups). These findings on established relationships seem to be mirrored in stats that asked about potential relationships reported on by gay-specific outlet Autostraddle (the world’s most popular gay/bi women’s website). According to their review of a 2013 aging survey “LGBT respondents are more likely to be attracted to people older than them by more than 10 years compared to straight respondents” and “LGBT respondents think they attract people younger than them by more than 10 years more so than straight respondents do.”  Autostraddle also did research of their own which found that 77% of respondent’s 18-to-29-year-olds were open to being romantically and/or sexually involved with women 10+ years older than them, and 97% were interested in women 5-10 years older. Respondents 30 years or older 61% were open to women 10+ years younger, 91% in women 5+ years younger, 87% in women 10+ years older and 98% in women 5+ years older.

 

Another great Autostraddle article tallied up some real-life examples in 11 Lesbian Couples Who Don’t Mind The (Age) Gap . Known figures such as Rachel Maddow, Elen DeGeneres, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, and American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson all have relationships with sizeable (10+ year) age gaps.  For gay/bi men we have examples such as designer Tom Ford at the younger end of a 13 year difference with Richard Buckley, Olympian Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black have a 20 years difference, and fashionista Calvin Klein, 72, with former boytoy Nick Gruber, 24, weigh-in at a 48 year age gap (source).

 

Do gay couples catch the same negativity for these relationships that straight couples do? Does defaulting outside the heteronormative space give us more liberty? What about the money? If we took the money away, are we inclined to view age gaps as more acceptable?  Are YOU only after a silver daddy or a sweet young thing? Join us at 8:30pm for Gay District this Friday January 15th 2016 at the DC LGBT Center to dish and discuss.

 

Gay District meets at The DC Center, located inside the Reeves building at 2000 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20009.  Attendees will need to enter the Reeves building via the “Exit” doors on 14th Street, facing McDonald’s. We encourage attendees to bring their photo ID to gain access inside the building. If you do not have or are unable to present a photo ID, please contact the DC Center at (202) 682-2245.

 

Other resources on this week’s topic include:

What’s the perfect age gap for an ideal relationship?

Can a Significant Age Gap Ruin Your Relationship?

Six things you’ll only know if you’re in an age-gap relationship.