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By Paul Simpson

Is midlife for homosexual males the beginning of a slide in the direction of the rejection, exclusion and distress linked to the spectre of the lonely outdated queen? when exclusion is feasible as homosexual males age, center elderly homosexual males, aging and Ageism bargains a extra nuanced view of homosexual aging, utilizing sociological instruments to enhance figuring out past stereotypes.

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I think ‘just does not apply’. It’s largely comfort for me now . . from Primark and Tesco. Not designer-label clothes or underwear because I just refuse to do the whole superficial Calvin Klein thing . . I know I shouldn’t say it . . but, well, quite frankly, I think I’m better than them (younger gay men on the scene) . . I think I’m more self-aware. (Daniel 46) Daniel’s account represents the most common form of distinction through clothing style that informants made. It suggests how men might adopt speaking positions to make (moral and epistemic) claims (Rose 1999: 29–30), in this case tinged with resonances of social class, given Daniel’s claim to the kind of cultural knowledge that enables him to avoid being duped by consumer and gay culture.

Such a definition allows that there may be individual differences about when the category ‘midlife’ is applied to the self, though, generally, the interviewees in the present study reported beginning to think of themselves as middle-aged in the ‘run-up’ to 40 – the late thirties. A range of empirically based generic studies emanating from the US have identified midlife as occurring around this age (Staudinger and Bluck 2001: 4). The men in my study used this first-order construct to explain slowing down, loss of physical/sexual capital (‘pulling power’) as well as gains in maturity.

In this chapter, I focus mainly on the age-related norms that encourage the production of forms of display, approach and touch which can be subject to spatio-temporal change. Following the pattern identified in Chapter 2, I show how midlife gay men’s responses to and performances on the bar/club scene involve capitulation to, negotiation with the pleasures, dangers and ambivalences of this more sexualized gay space, and resistance to some of its youth-coded norms. I draw attention then to how middle-aged men create viable selves in some spaces of the village that have generally been made more convivial to middle-aged and older gay men.

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