‘I don’t believe any of us knows what we’re doing. In the absence of role models, we must become our own heroes.’
Ageing is strange for everyone – before you even consider what it means for us queers.
My once androgynous youthful looks have become more masculinised as I age. Now, when I pull a femme make-up look, I do sometimes feel like an old lady with too much on. It’s a look, no denying it, but my confidence waxes and wanes.
As a gender-queer non-conformist, I wonder what is in store for those of us who fall between the gender cracks as we age. For those who present as not-quite male or female – or a bit of both – depending on the mood, day or occasion.
I realise that my younger friends look to my age group to see how and how not to deal with ageing, but for me there’s no template. Where are my role models?
The generation before mine was drastically diminished by the AIDs crisis. It robbed us of so many role models – I’d love to see how Leigh Bowery or Sylvester (Mighty Real) James would have done it.
I often joke, “Want my advice? Don’t get old.” But actually, we are the lucky ones: we get a shot at growing old.
Without clear queer role models, I’ve been trying to look to pop culture and long-time allies.
However, the difference in the reactions to Iggy Pop and Madonna’s announcements of new tours further heightened my worry.
It seems old men are heaped with praise for still rocking and acting like teenagers into their later years, but women are denigrated for doing the same, whether they fight it or not.
So what’s the lesson for us queers, and how does it relate to gender expression?
Genetics and an aversion to sunlight have been kind to my face so far, but what if I choose to intervene with some minor cosmetic adjustments. Or to not tone down my dress sense – to turn a phrase, to grow old disgracefully?
How do you win at this growing old game?
I think I’ll do it queerly. It’s a radical concept. As queers, we often don’t have a model to follow, so we lay our own path.
I don’t believe any of us knows what we’re doing. In the absence of role models, we must become our own heroes.
Ageing gracefully, queerly or disgracefully – I’ve decided the best way to do it is in a way that feels true to who I am, not to anyone else’s expectations and stereotypes.