As part of Northern Soul’s collaboration with the Canal St website, the biggest LGBT site outside of London, we publish one of their articles which asks, do gay men need to get past ‘Peter Pan Syndrome?’
I was casually scrolling through my news feed on Facebook recently when an article caught my eye. The title declared that gay men were cursed by ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’. Intrigued, I clicked on an article by Dalton Heinrich to find an announcement that gay men of a certain age should get over their youth and move past wild weekends and hanging around in gay clubs.
I am a gay man aged 24 and I take great amount of offence to what was suggested in the article. Since I started going to the gay nights clubs (first in Stoke-on-Trent and later Manchester) I’ve hung out with a variety of people, from the age of around 20 all the way up to the age of 70 years of age. At no point have I ever felt uncomfortable around any one older than me. On a personal level I have had fantastic nights out with people whether gay or straight of a variety of ages. To suggest that people of a certain age should not experience the fun of a club if that is what they want to do is frankly disgusting to me.
In one part of the article, the author writes that gay men should be planning their futures as opposed to clinging to wild night outs – something that is apparently reserved to those of us in our twenties. I’d counter this by saying it’s absolutely none of your business whether people want to go out or not. What gives you the right to judge? I say get off your high horse and get on with living your life.
On one level it is disgusting; on another level it is totally disrespectful to a group of people who have spent years fighting for our right to attend gay clubs. In the over-30 age group there will be people who were around when it was illegal to be gay and those who fought against Section 28 in the 80s and 90s. There will be people who fought for us to have an equal age of consent. These are people who are entitled to have fun and to be who they want to be encountering discrimination and ageist prejudice. The title, of course, lays his thinking: that gay men are all suffering from ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ and are unwilling to grow up. I argue that it’s not a case of people not wanting to grow up, it’s simply a case of people wanting to live which, after what many gay men have gone through, they are fully entitled to do.
Night clubs and bars are there to be enjoyed by everyone whether these are bars are frequented by the LGBT community or by a mixed group of people. They’re not an 18 to 30 holiday getaway, they are for anyone young of heart and anyone who wants to attend and have a good time.
And since this boils down to age one might note that the Equality Act prohibits discrimination in many areas regarding age. So, if what Heinrich wanted to happen became a reality, then a lot of bar owners would suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
If Heinrich ever encounters a gay man of a certain age the first thing he should say is sorry. And then he should thank said person as without these people we would not be so comfortable in our gay clubs and gay bars today. We would not have the legal protection and rights we now take for granted.
I look forward to hearing Heinrich’s response and hope he may have reconsidered his views. And maybe he’ll reflect on the fact that one day he’ll be over 30.
By Daniel Carter