Manboys, midlife and friends stuck in a queer culture loop

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“I’m not sure when I graduated from innuendo t-shirts, gold booty shorts and Mickey Mouse ears when not at Disney World, but I did.”


I found myself at a big gay outdoor to-do that I usually look forward to. This year, it fell flat. Not the event itself, but the same group of guys that were so fun in years past.

Waiting for a restroom with my buddies, I caught a glimpse of us in a window. There we were, three 40-and-50-something men with one 30-something. I looked miserable, but the rest were yucking it up in crop tops and plastic sunglasses like it was a carnival instead of a line to the port-a-potties.

I’m not sure exactly when I graduated from innuendo t-shirts, gold booty shorts and Mickey Mouse ears when I’m not at Disney World, but I did.

These friends have been there for me and I for them, but I can’t shake that reflection in the window. I can’t help feeling that what I saw was what I have to show for the last 15 years. I want more.

Dear Manboy:

So many issues, so little time. Let’s unpack and try to put away one at a time.

You may be experiencing a midlife crisis. Most people look up one day and ask, “Is this all there is?” Also on the table are blaming your buddies for your feelings, as well as a defeatist attitude that keeps you from addressing your real concerns.

First of all, getting older is certainly better than the alternative, and a slew of our queer brethren died before finding that out. Aging is a privilege, and as long as you’re alive, you are in a position to do something about your problems.

Much has been written about the gay Peter Pan Syndrome – the Lost Boys who never grow up, and the corners of queer culture that support and encourage them. Even if your friends are among those who need to work on it, no one appointed you Olivia of the Special Victims Unit.

In short, it’s not them. It’s you. Enjoy your sensible separates, and let them work their fashion choices and issues in their own time.

It sounds like your friends share a valuable history, not just happen to be there. If they weren’t worth it, you wouldn’t be worried about losing them. You can want more without throwing out the friends with the booty shorts. Growing apart might happen naturally, but you don’t necessarily have to kick good people to the curb over their frivolous choices.

If you do decide it’s necessary, put forth a plan to change. The right answers are the ones you feel good about, not the ones you regret while doing it.

Q Advice is for entertainment, not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected].

Illustration by Brad Gibson

This column also appeared in Q ATLus magazine. Read the full issue here:

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