Does gay culture make us all into Peter Pan?

4 months ago — 3 min read — No Comments
By Tris Reid-Smith

From Peter Pan to Catcher in the Rye, society has long been interested in the idea of eternal youth, particularly for those who feel alienated.

The latest debate about gay culture that caught people’s attention started, as so often these days, with a tweet.

A guy called ‘Introvert Gay’ tweeted: ‘Gay culture is being a teenager when you’re 30 because your teenage years were not yours to live.’

60,000 likes and 12,000 re-tweets later, GSN took a look at people’s feedback.

Several people had gone on Twitter to express similar sentiments. One guy said he was in tears when Introvert Gay put into words how he was feeling.

He had obviously struck a chord.

Of course, it’s not a new concept. From Peter Pan to Catcher in the Rye, we’ve long been obsessed with the idea of eternal youth. And that’s particularly true for those of us who are alienated from adulthood or society generally. Obviously, that alienation appears more common among LGBTIs who are excluded from the mainstream.

But is this really the definition of ‘gay culture’?

My own experience is limited, just as everyone’s is. But I have plenty of straight friends who try to relive their youth. There’s a reason we joke about people having a midlife crisis and buying a sports car.

Adulthood comes with plenty of opportunities to do and have what you’ve always wanted, free of the limitations of youth – be they practical or financial.

I also think recent decades have seen more blurring of the lines between adulthood and youth in any case. The old view can be seen in the words of the Bible (1 Corinthians, chapter 13): ‘When I became a man, I put away childish things.’

Luckily, we’ve moved on. As people have learnt to assert their individuality over society’s expectations, we’ve become more accustomed to the idea that some adults like comic books or Lego or Disney – and we’ve accepted that’s fine. I’d also argue adults dress more like teens than they did in the past – and vice versa.

Some of our readers commented under the Gay Star News article. And I found their take on it pretty instructive, summarising my own range of thinking:

Sam from Montana, US said: ‘The difference is that until equal marriage, we didn’t have the perks of grown up life, so there was no point in aspiring to it.’

But Robert from Sussex, England commented: ‘So right, I am 63 and act in so many ways like a 30 year old because my teens and young adulthood were not free.’

I’m pretty sure Introvert Gay probably didn’t mean his comment entirely literally. Eternal teenagehood is not the sole definition of ‘gay culture’. By any standards, our culture could be argued to encompass Tchaikovsky, Michelangelo and Shakespeare too, so it’s hardly 100% infantile.

But I do hope he’s right about it in one way. I want our LGBTI community to be a place everyone is able to be themselves and express themselves as they wish. We all need to think ‘young’ and let go of our responsibilities sometimes. And if being part of gay culture can help free our minds and spirits sometimes, that’s just one more amazing thing we should love about it.

Read more stories from Gay Star News here.

Photo credit: © Epicstock | Dreamtime


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