The great queer Faerie poet-film-maker James Broughton once said: ‘Crazy old men are essential to society. Otherwise young men have no suitable role models’
A young friend told me that he’d recently had a tarot reading and from this he learned that he needed a teacher.
How do the young learn from the old?
Eight years ago when I first conceived of my GaySocrates blog, my stated intention was: ‘from an experienced and seasoned perspective, to wisely corrupt the gay youth of today with love’.
Back then, in my late 40s I felt that a number of factors had conspired to keep me from accessing the elder wisdom of my queer tribe. Firstly my very queerness had inoculated me against trusting any form of authority. Secondly, I was aware that elderly queers had lived through hard times; their fundamental nature had been criminalized and construed as illness to be medically attacked so they were highly likely to have been fucked up by this. Thirdly, for me, AIDS had wiped out a whole swathe of what might have become ‘big sisters’ to me and my generation. All the potential advice and guidance they might have offered had gone up in a sad puff of crematorial smoke. And last, but by no means least, there was that creeping ageism out in our wider society which was becoming especially pernicious out on the gay pub and club scene which meant that most of the older folk I might have bumped into over a drink or two were voting with their feet and staying at home with their friends and partners.
So that’s how the blog and subsequently this GScene column came about. I wondered if there would be any value in putting my aged musings out there for the perusal of any Youth, who like me, felt a kind of ‘elder deficit’.
I’ve learned a lot over these past 8 years.
1 Probably the most important lesson has been to stop looking for the amazingly wise teacher who will offer all that advice and those fabulous make-up tips! At least for me, the idea that this person exists is a mirage.
2 Instead my learning has come from the rich tapestry of friends and relationships (old, young and in between) I have encountered in Faerie-space away from the gay cis-male monoculture of the scene.
3 Anyone who ever purported to be a teacher of wisdom for me, probably learned far more from me than I ever did from them!
4 There is great value in appreciating the flaws of a self proclaimed guru. As Leonard Cohen famously said:
‘Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in!’
Having said all this please be warned:
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth. Baz Luhrmann