Old habits never die, and I still spend way too much time looking at profiles and photos of men. When I came out, we looked at magazines and Undergear catalogs which weren’t as complete as today’s Internet sites, but it was the best we had. There’s an old adage that goes: every Yale student in the gay bar in New Haven was doing a sociology report. Now, I’m no longer the eager seeker of real and imagined sex as I once was, and I use the Internet like a sociologist to learn more about what gay society is like for young men, and how they approach sex. Because I have done it all and had a magnificent indulgent life, I don’t feel I’m missing anything when I see gorgeous bodies and tantalizing members. I see them with some objectivity, and know just from the look in their eyes what they are expecting from dates. In each generation there are some who complain that men over 40 are invisible, or that leather is dead, or that everyone they date is a flake, but that’s been going on the first cave man stuck his dick in another one. The difference I notice today are men who are happily partnered and those who equate dick size and brains, so it’s getting more sophisticated, and more real. Another difference is the number who play team sports that were anathema to us, and younger men do not have the same passion for politics because, by and large, our major battles have been won in remarkably short time, but they are concerned about jobs and security. I am pleased that bullying, our final frontier, is finally being acknowledged and dealt with, especially in the media. Some things remain the same. Gay men continue to be proud of their bodies and sexual skill and long to fall in love, but the last part has changed due to the epidemic. When I came out, you could sleep with a thousand men until you found the right one, and when that didn’t work there are plenty more to choose from. Younger men I worked with at STOP AIDS seemed determined to find the right man, so they were picky about whom they went home with and didn’t sleep with them on the first date.
Growing up I determined not to be the kind who complains about the younger generation. They have their own set of problems and opportunities. I watch them grow into their lives and fun. My only regret is that they can never know the sheer joy and freedom we knew in those transformational 70s. Otherwise, they’re doing just fine.