I was reading an article on Adam 4 Adam about older men dating younger men. I wasn’t trying to feel what that article had to say, as I believe in staying in my own dating sandbox, plus/minus a few years. I give equal “side eye” to black men who whine about white guys putting filters for white only in Grinder, Scruff and other apps, just as I do to older guys complaining about not being seen as viable by younger guys. This doesn’t change the fact that gay folk can have ridiculous notions about age and aging. Human beings naturally congregate with like human beings, by age, race, interests, etc. Get over it. But the article DID get me thinking about how older (i.e. Over 40) gay/bi men can and should interact with younger men. Steel sharpens steel; men should help sharpen other men.
There have to be places for gay/bi men to come together that don’t necessarily involve hookups. This is part of the reason why I joined Cypher Avenue’s message forums; for conversation and exchange of ideas. Many young gay men get this experience through personal or professional associations. I know quite a few older gay/bi brothers (very often closeted) that belong to Black Greek fraternities that mentor younger members, both sides knowing of their sexual orientation. And we all know religious or other professional men’s conventions and gatherings that—behind the scenes and in between sessions and seminars—turn into hookups, and DL parties and other offline gatherings.
But what about those younger gay/bi men who don’t belong to some fraternity, organization, or other professional association where they can interact with older men who can be professional, business, cultural or spiritual mentors without some ulterior or sexual “Daddy” motives involved? Where does the young, geeky or artsy or nerdy gay black male go for some advice for advice or encouragement, particularly if they don’t live in a big city; come from an impoverished background with no male figures; or only have access to like-minded individuals over the Internet? Having been that nerdy, arty, geeky kid that didn’t belong to a college fraternity or have some black professional mentor or role model take me under his wing, I had to go through life alone and figure out my way and successes through trial and error, being the “first black guy,” that “one black guy” or the “fly in the buttermilk” in many educational or professional settings.
As I’ve told my own nephews, I don’t mind having made mistakes in life as long as those who come after me learn from them and don’t repeat them. That’s why I’m quick with “the daps” and encouragement for all the younger members on the message forums who are entering their chosen professions, finishing school, getting out and seeing the world. When I was in my 20s, there were barely any sites like Cypher Avenue. Yeah, there were the USENET boards, AOL chat rooms, etc. in the 90s but they didn’t have the immediate impact of today’s social media tools. But I’m a firm believer in the face-to-face. Online communication is great but sometimes the Internet can flatten the dimensionality of interaction.
QUESTION: How should and in what better ways can older gay men (those 40 and older), particularly older black gay men, mentor younger gay men? Scholarships? Organizations? Personal relationships?