Actor George Clooney once said, "Growing old on screen is not for the faint of heart." The same can be said for aging online on the hookup sites and apps or aging in the kink scene generally. While I consider the gay men's kink and fetish world far more welcoming of older members than the mainstream gay communities, those of us kinksters with many years under our belts still face challenges the younger might not.
I'm not saying younger guys don't have their own challenges. They might experience economic disparities and perhaps less free time because they have to work more than their older counterparts to make ends meet. Their needs and opinions might be dismissed by older kinksters. Younger tops are routinely discounted because it's assumed they can't possibly know enough to be skilled (which is bullshit). When it comes to leadership positions, they often feel locked out of meaningful decision-making roles even though their youthful voices are needed to keep the scene thriving. We certainly need to collectively address all these problems, but the problems facing older guys are different and no less challenging.
While I acknowledge the challenges experienced by older guys, I also have to be honest that I have advantages other older kinky men might not. I'm well networked with decades of time in the scene. My community profile is fairly high. I live and travel mostly among dense urban cities with big gay and kink populations. As a result, I have regular access to connection opportunities. It would be disingenuous to not admit that I have access to men and social circles others might not simply because of these factors.
This makes it all the more concerning when despite those privileges I experience roadblocks to my full sexual expression. I know many others are dealing with a higher level of rejection and dismissiveness. Older guys frequently tell me disheartening stories of how they are badly treated or struggle to find connection.
And there are definitely plenty of older men on Recon. When I did a worldwide search for 60-90 years of age, an abundance of results displayed. When I searched locally in my own San Francisco Bay Area, 571 guys fell into that age range. Recon, and the entire scene, is awash in older kink, leather, and fetish guys.
So, how might us older kinksters resolve some of the hurdles we encounter? As one source for inspiration I'll reference philosopher Bertrand Russell's iconic short essay - 'How to Grow Old'.
"If you have wide and keen interests and activities in which you can still be effective, you will have no reason to think about the merely statistical fact of the number of years you have already lived, still less of the probable shortness of your future."
How might this apply to kink? I contend that as one gets older intentionally broadening our social circles, attraction types, and sexual and kink options improves both our likelihood of connecting and our overall level of scene happiness.
If you are let's say my age, 67, and only like certain physical types of guys ages 21-29, well, that's a small pond in which to fish. Sure, sometimes attractions are somewhat hardwired into us, but I have broadened my types and interests over the years, and I've seen friends do the same. Those who do not seem to be the ones who continually complain about lack of play and socializing success. If you are a young, handsome guy in your 30s highly skilled in just one kink, let's say single tail whips, you'll probably do just fine. But as one grows older you may have to explore more ways of playing to attract enough partners.
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with liking a certain age range, physical type, or specific kinks. If you get enough play with all that, go for it. But if you are growing older and find yourself butting up against barriers fostered by these personal restrictions, perhaps consider expanding your horizons a bit. I find the best way to do this is to diversify the fantasies running through my head when I masturbate. It's my jerk off fantasies that have fueled a lot of how I identify, function, and play within the kink and leather scenes. Mixing it up mentally during a good wank tends to spawn new erotic explorations.
Older men who want to bottom or sub seem to have a steeper hill to climb to find play than if they want to top or dom. Admittedly, I've heard from the more bottom leaning among us that they find it harder to connect and play than their top or dom counterparts, regardless of age. But older men are often confronted with the assumed expectation that due to their age they will inevitably adopt a top or dom role. Trust me when I tell you that a large percentage of older guys want to bottom more than they do but feel compelled to adopt a top role if they want any action.
When I began to morph from a predominantly top and dom player into a more versatile one, exploring my bottom and sub side was significantly more difficult. Not only are younger tops and doms often reticent to play with older guys, but older tops and doms frequently leverage their role and skill set to play specifically with younger men which further solidifies that expectation within the scene.
Russell also writes this in his essay.
"Psychologically there are two dangers to be guarded against in old age. One of these is undue absorption in the past. It does not do to live in memories, in regrets for the good old days, or in sadness about friends who are dead. One's thoughts must be directed to the future, and to things about which there is something to be done. This is not always easy; one's own past is a gradually increasing weight. It is easy to think to oneself that one's emotions used to be more vivid than they are, and one's mind more keen. If this is true it should be forgotten, and if it is forgotten it will probably not be true."
As for absorption in the past, so many of my older kinkster peers remain mired in how the scene was years or decades ago while simultaneously rejecting modern developments that have moved the kink communities in new directions. That's a surefire recipe for unhappiness. Embrace modernity or suffer the pangs of stagnation.
"The other thing to be avoided is clinging to youth in the hope of sucking vigour from its vitality. When your children are grown up they want to live their own lives…"
This manifests in a few ways among us older kinksters. First off, us older guys have to let go of the reins of power. It's fine if guys want to venerate their elders, but if those same elders grip tightly to their power and influence in the scene, the scene will not benefit. All movements and communities grow and thrive best when driven by the energies of the young. When an older man lets the younger take the lead, the young respect them more because they feel respected. When younger guys feel respected, they treat older kinksters with more respect too and this can lead to more frequent intimate and social connections.
Attempting to cling to our youth when our bodies and experience place us clearly in our golden years is not only unattractive to witness, it also denies the upsides to being older. Wisdom. Experience. Play and social skills. Robust social networks. Peace of mind. These and many other possible benefits of being older should not be ignored. We can revel in the beauty of being older while at the same time recognizing we may have to be more strategic in how we live and play as kinksters.
I may return to this topic in the future because it's such a meaty one. The kink scene celebrates diversity within its ranks. In areas where they have been less than welcoming, there's always room for improvement. But I think it's folly to assume the scene will adapt to us older guys more often than we need to adapt to the scene as it is.
Let me leave you with something I say often. "Age if you must, but don't get old."
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