I recently read this story in the New York Times about a photographer who takes pictures of old animals. I find the pictures beautiful, and they made me think about aging. I've long thought societies that revere and cherish older people have gotten it right. I live in the U.S., where people start saying they're "getting old" in their thirties or forties, where people love getting carded, and where it's considered insulting for someone to guess that a person (especially a woman) is older than she really is.
I'd like to think that the lesbian community is different, and that we have tons of respect for the older (by "older," I mean 60s or 70s plus) dykes among us. But I'm not sure this is true. More than once, I've heard people my own age (30s) talk disparagingly about older lesbians, saying that they don't "get it" with regards to boi culture, or trans culture, or some other aspect of contemporary queer life. (And, to be fair, I've occasionally heard older lesbians say disparaging things about queer youth culture, too.)
Why does this age divide exist? Maybe because LGBTQ history and culture have evolved so rapidly in the last 50 years. Maybe those who came of age in the Stonewall era share less with their younger counterparts than is true for straight people. I don't think so, though; I suspect it's a manifestation of a broader tendency to dismiss older people rather than integrating them into society and seeking their wisdom. And why does this tendency exist? Are we obsessed with "progress," which we conflate with youth and newness? Does hanging out with old people scare us because we don't understand it? Does it force us to confront our own mortality?
It's especially important for the LGBTQ community to take care of its older members, because in many ways, it's harder to be an old dyke than it is to be an old straight woman. Here are a few reasons why:
Do you ever hang out with older lesbians? What's it like? Tell us about your experiences: positive, negative, whatever. And if you're a 60+ lesbian reading this blog, I'd love to hear your perspective about younger queers.