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Daily Beast Article Highlights Double Standard in Coverage of Age Different Relationships

Over the past few years I’ve become a fan of the British actor and writer Stephen Fry. From his old sketch comedy show with Hugh Laurie, to his TV travelogue of America, to his thoughtful web presence Mr. Fry brings intelligence and humor to the all of his projects. Though I’ve known Fry was gay I didn’t know much about his personal life. This week he and his partner Elliott Spencer announced their engagement. With Spencer being 30 year’s Fry’s junior a fury of speculation and insinuation flared up among the media and on social networks. Of course, for those of us who’ve been in age different relationships this is not surprising, but it certainly is disheartening. I empathize with both men for what amounts to public harassment.

Interestingly, on Friday the Daily Beast posted a wonderful commentary by Samantha Allen about the double standard in the way May to December relationships are covered in the media and in the general consciousness entitled Freaking Out about Age Gaps in Gay Relationships is Homophobic. It is well argued reflection on and refutation of the tropes and stereotypes found in discussion of gay men in age different relationships. I recommend you take a look.

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Hard Truths

Last November I acknowledged that there were some frictions going on in the relationship between John and me and that we were considering counseling. We did eventually see a couples counselor for awhile and for awhile things felt better. However, recently we called an end to our relationship.

Fortunately, we avoided much of the anger and animosity that characterizes the end of so many relationships. This doesn’t mean there isn’t/wasn’t hurt. The close of our relationship has been very emotionally challenging. We’ve committed to remaining friends. But for my part, I’m getting some distance for the moment, trying to get some perspective, and trying to re-engage who I am as an individual rather than who I was in a relationship.

I hope to get back to writing more. Sometimes it has been a challenge to keep up the posts, especially recently. More to come.

Relationship Skepticism: The Problem With Pals

My partner and I can be, at times, self conscious of about our relationship, but for the most part we take it all in stride. I have to admit that we have it pretty good. We live in a pretty liberal town. Most of our friends, both gay and straight, are pretty accepting of our relationship. And, though there have been a few highly publicized instances of violence against gay people in our town, we feel fairly safe. Over all we’re in a really good place.

It can be hard though when people close to us seem to have a problem with our relationship. Especially when those problems seem to go away only to pop up again later. I can understand that people might initially have trepidations about our relationship. They wonder what we have in common, whether I’m using him, whether he’s using me, etc.; all those myths I’ve discussed before.

A, now mutual, friend of ours once told me he was shocked when my partner told him that he was beginning to date a 20-something guy. But, after he really saw us together he decided we made sense, that we were a good couple. It seems that most of our friends come to that conclusion after they’ve spent some time with us together. In the abstract such an age disparate relationship seems irrational, but in reality it works great for the two of us.

It can really sting then when someone we know seems to question us being together or doesn’t give our relationship much credit. My partner recently went to a pride event. I couldn’t go because I unfortunately had to work that day, but John went and took a 40-something friend of ours that was visiting from out of town.

While at pride John ran into a friend of his we’ll call Joe. When Joe saw my partner with our guest and not me, he made some remarks as though he were probing to see if I was still around. John asked him directly if he was wondering if we were still together and he admitted that, yes that was what he was wondering. John explained that I was at work.

Later that evening John told me about the encounter, but he didn’t perceive the probing as negatively as I did. It really hurt my pride to think that others might not see our relationship as durable or that I might be so easily replaced. From the first time I met Joe he’s seemed rather skeptical of me. In some ways it is to his credit; I don’t think it is out of malice, rather he likes John and is protective of him. We don’t spend as much time with Joe as some of my partner’s other friends, but over the past couple of months we’ve seen him a few times and he seemed to be warming up to me. I think that’s why his behavior at pride really struck me.

After a little time to reflect on the situation I’ve mellowed out some. It doesn’t bug me as much as it did when John first told me, but it makes me wonder how many others may secretly think my partner and I aren’t good for each other. I’d like to believe that it doesn’t matter what others think. To a certain extent that is true, but when it comes to your friends you hope for them to be supportive and trusting. If they’re not, then where will that friendship lead? For now I’ll just have to double my resolve to win over Joe and we’ll see what happens next.