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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.

Wanna take you to a Gay Bar! Gay Bar! Gay Bar!

gay-bar

“Wanna take you to a Gay Bar! Gay Bar! Gay Bar!” (song by Electric Six)

 

The gay bar has a cornerstone place in our LGBT history (I’m sure you’ve all heard about the Stonewall Riots and the importance that bar has in our civil rights movement), and perhaps in our current queer culture too. Unlike much of rural America, metro area gay, bi, trans, and queer men are not bound to a single LGBT watering hole, but blessed with a plethora of gay focused, owned, and operated spaces ready and willing to receive our patronage.

 

Pick a scene, any scene, and it’s a good bet the DC nightlife has a brick and mortar place that caters to that crowd. Leather and Kink? The Green Lantern and DC Eagle are still serving it up to the more scandalous among us. Twinks and college guys? Town has got you covered, at least when they aren’t hosting Bear Happy Hour.  We can’t forget Bachelor’s Mill and Fireplace’s distinctive space in the DC gay nightlife scene either.  Maybe you want to catch the sportsball game while cruising the locals: Nellie’s brings you both. Number 9 is great for a happy hour after work, and there’s both drag and brunch at Level One underneath Cobalt, Perry’s in AdMo, and (for those adventurers trekking into the wilds of NoVA) there’s Freddy’s Beach Bar. You won’t find brunch at Ziegfeld’s Secrets, but that’s not why you were going there anyway. The metro area is so LGBT enriched that we even have the option of ‘straight gay bars’ such as Black Cat (voted Best Straight Gay Bar 2015) and the Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw.

 

As defined in the article “How Do Non-Gay Bars Become Gay Destinations?”, a ‘straight gay bar’ is one that doesn’t specifically label themselves as a gay bar but are widely frequented by LGBTQ residents. Places can now become gay havens without expressly identifying as a gay bar by intentionally hosting events with large gay followings, such as Mix Tape, Bright Young Things parties, queer burlesque shows, etc. Places can also become gay bars for the night quite unintentionally, as is the intention of The Welcoming Committee’s Guerilla Queer Bar event. The concept is to select a gay-unfriendly or otherwise heavily hetero-centric space, flash mob it with gays on the appointed date, and voila! Instant gay bar. Once we start to overlay the brick and mortar places with the respective events that a bar can host to lure in the gays, we have a very rich matrix of gay places and events that could cater to our every inclination.

 

So with all these places and events to choose from, how does one decide where to go? Get a friend’s advice? Follow the happy hour specials? Create an alcohol-infused social calendar that rotates between all possible bars each month? Outside of our wide-range of options, what’s the situation like for our lesbian, bi, trans and queer sisters? What impact might the blurred line between intentional and unintentional gay bars have on our local LGBT community? Are there any pro’s for the stand-alone small town gay bar that an urban gay bar doesn’t get?

 

Join us at Gay District in the DC Center this Friday, June 19 at 8:30pm as we dish about gay bars.

 

Hyperlinked Sources Include the Following:

Gay District is a DC metro area, donation-based, gay, bi, trans-, queer men’s conversation group. Gay District meets at The DC LGBT 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.

 

Where do you get the 411?

 

 

Where do you get the 411?

411

In our celebrity-obsessed culture, famous people are in a particularly influential position to weigh-in on socially and politically charged issues.  It seems more and more commonplace for highly visible people like professional athletes, writers, actors, and musicians to serve as spokespeople for certain causes, informing the public about sex, health, drug use and other important topics.  Liz Taylor is synonymous with championing the fight against HIV/AIDS, controversial columnist Dan Savage with launching the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign, Laverne Cox has gained international attention as a spokeswoman for trans- issues, and on his journey as an NFL draft football player Michael Sam assumed a position to advocate for decreasing homophobia in professional sports.  With the ever increasing influence of the internet, a new cast of characters has joined the influential elite; examples could include Youtube personalities like Davey Wavey or Chris Crocker to name a few.

 

Some celebrities strive to become immersed and knowledgeable about the issue they champion, and couch their discussions in research relevant to that issue.  However, there are also celebrities who speak out on sensitive issues based on their own (sometimes faulty) knowledge, opinions, or even based solely on something they read in a magazine while waiting at the dentist’s office. Many people rebuke the idea of celebrities speaking out on socially charged topics, claiming that they are likely uniformed and could cause harm by spreading misinformation and/or negative sentiments.  For instance, many in the HIV/AIDS community have taken issue with actor Zachary Quinto’s statements on the HIV drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis; you can read more about this controversy and Quinto’s response in the two links below).

http://www.hivequal.org/hiv-equal-online/how-zachary-quinto-let-down-the-hiv-aids-community

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zachary-quinto/on-my-cover-interview-for_b_6158498.html

 

Do celebrities take responsibility or take advantage of the position they have to influence others?  People may take their advice/information to heart and apply it to their own lives and decisions.  However, how much responsibility should a public figure be required to take for their statements?  How much responsibility do we have as individuals to seek out information from other, perhaps more reliable, sources?

 

Join this week’s facilitator Taylor Monson and guest facilitator Robert Soriano for what promises to be a great discussion!


Gay District meets at The DC Center, located inside the Reeves DC government building. 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 me ahead of time by email or The DC Center’s Executive Director David Mariner. Afterwards, we’ll head out to one of the fine establishments on the U Street Corridor to eat.

Home for the Holidays?

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The holiday season is upon us once again and we are confronted with the question of where we are going to spend our time.  This can be a stressful time for many of us. An article from the Gay and Lesbian Well-Being series in Psychology Today says “The reality for most families, especially those with an LGBT member, is not quite the same. We believe in the magic of the holidays and expect difficult or disapproving family members to (finally!) behave differently this time. When they don’t, it brings up unhealed hurts and points of ongoing battle”.  However, not all of us share this holiday experience. According to a nifty graph published in Out Travel, 59% of the gay and lesbian participants that traveled home during the holiday season had a positive experience. Some couples even shared a bed while visiting their families.

 

What is your experience? Do you go home for the holidays to see family or do you spend time with your “chosen” family? If you do go home, is it to an accepting, tolerant, or hostile environment? Is your partner invited into the household or are you forced to choose? Single guys: does your family ask about your dating life and/or expect you to settle down soon? While home do you use Grindr or other apps to meet up with people? What strategies do you use to diffuse/handle possibly negative situations with family members?

 

Please join in our discussion at the DC LGBT Center this Friday, December 5th at 8:30pm as we celebrate the holiday season. Continuing the holiday merriment, after the discussion has ended a group will walk to view the National Christmas Tree on the White House lawn.

 

http://thenationaltree.org/

 

Gay District meets at The DC Center, located inside the Reeves DC government building (2000 14th Street NW, Suite 105 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 a photo ID to gain access inside the building. If you do not have or are unable to present a photo ID, please contact a facilitator ahead of time by email or The DC Center’s Executive Director David Mariner.

 

This week’s facilitators are Taylor Monson and guest facilitator Robert Soriano!

Below are the two articles mentioned above:

 

http://www.outtraveler.com/features/2014/11/25/see-how-gays-travel-over-holidays-one-nifty-infographic?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/gay-and-lesbian-well-being/201411/lgbt-and-heading-home-the-holidays

 

 

09/05/14: LGBT+What? Your shared identities

 

Last week in the Washington Blade, Carrie Evans, the executive director of Equality Maryland had an op-ed on her organization’s move to support immigration rights in that state’s post-marriage equality life, noting her own experience as an immigrant. And just opposite Evans’s op-ed, Mark Lee wrote one about how LGBT identities are multi-faceted and can’t always be led to march in lock-step on non-gay issues. As he noted:

 

Rather than asserting that being gay should invoke a “plus sign” after one’s identity, it would be more accurate to invert one’s gay identity to a “follow-on” position. As in, “I’m a small business owner and I’m lesbian” or “I’m a feminist and I’m gay.” It would prove more illustrative of evolving self-perceptions in the emerging new world of assimilation in which we’ve begun to live.

 

In DC, we’re lucky to have a diverse LGBT community where it’s common to have a “plus sign” or “follow-on” to our gay identities; we can easily meet other gays and and non-gays who share more than just attraction to men. For me, that means being a political, singing choir boy! What’s your plus sign/follow-on?

 

This week we’ll discuss the other parts of ourselves that create the diverse friendships and communities we are a part of. So if you’re a g(l)eek, gaymer, athlete, singer, political activist, bookworm, fashionista, club kid, or whatever, come out this Friday at 8:30 pm to connect with other guys who may have similar interests and share where the best spots to indulge your passions are!

 

Your facilitator this week, Jay

 

PS-Remember, Gay District meets at The DC Center, located inside the Reeves DC government building. 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 me ahead of time by email or The DC Center’s Executive Director David Mariner.