Gay rebels: why some older homosexual men don’t support same-sex marriage

I … don’t for the life of me understand why the gay community has decided to emulate an institution that doesn’t work for even straight people … It is laughable

This is what a 59-year-old black gay activist in Los Angeles told me of his views on same-sex marriage. He is typical of many older gay men who are bemused by the younger generation’s desire for marriage, reflecting the radically different experiences of those who grew up in far more restrictive and intolerant decades.

We know that generally older Australians are less supportive of same-sex marriage. In 2013, I interviewed a small international sample of men as part of my research on sexuality and ageing. Most of the men over 50 were dubious, if not opposed, to gay marriage, while most of those under 30 were supportive. While these results may not apply directly to Australia in 2017, they are indicative of a generational divide between young and old gay men.

These older men have largely remained silent in the current same-sex marriage debate. I suspect this is because they do not want to be accused of betraying their own kind or exhibiting “internalised homophobia”, which for decades has been the accusation hurled at gay people who do not conform to the prescribed norms of the sub-culture.

It is vital that we listen to their perspectives, because older gay men are an already marginalised group, experiencing greater financial and social insecurity than younger men. We must ensure that same-sex marriage should it be legalised does not further sideline their experiences. Read more via the Conversation