“Flirting With 70”
Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham
Yes, I said it. I haven’t consummated it yet, but I am in the flirting zone with 70.
That was such an alien concept to my 21-year-old brain in the early 1970s, somewhere in the future far, far away, off in my grandmother’s territory. And to be gay and 70? Did such elders exist? Well, we have met the elders, and now they are us.
Now and then, I search for Google images of Black male couples at this stage of our lives, and while I’m pleased to see a few, there can be more of them to add to the diversity of SGL (Same-gender loving) brothas. Now that my son is 20, another stage of my life will also appear on the horizon at some point: grandfather status. Though my father was 19 when I was born (it was the era of the Baby Boom), my son wants to wait a while before he has kids. Good for him.
I’ve learned to go with the flow when I have my “senior moments.” I know there are those of you who have had them, such as going into a room and wondering what you went there for. My brother and I approach them with a sense of humor; that’s one thing that makes the difference in my outlook on life.
As an author, I have an ongoing issue with thinking faster than I write, causing me to skip words. It’s more apparent now that I am older; the good thing is, I can figure out the word based on the context of the sentence. It’s more important these days to document my notes to reference them and take the kind of supplements that boost my concentration and memory (after I check with my doctor). As much as I love watching my classic movies, reading and writing have helped keep my mind sharp.
This has also inspired and encouraged me to include an older gay couple in my work. Allan Beckley Christopher’s brother, Sammy, was first introduced in Mark My Words. In one of my upcoming M/M romance novels, The Right to Be, you will get to know more about Sammy and his husband as men in their 80s, and his status as the gay elder in the Christopher family.
Contrary to a stereotype, flirting with 70 doesn’t consign Black LGBT men to a miserable, lonely existence. Being single by choice doesn’t mean being lonely. Also, more of us are out there today who have long-term husbands at this stage, including children and grandchildren. A circle of close friends is a strong source of support. Health and quality of life are at the forefront, which can include a closer spiritual walk and staying active. Being good in bed may have been Number One in the qualities of a husband at one point, but as we grow older it does take a back seat to the qualities of character—the ones that make a man a keeper. The kind that lifetime memories are built upon.
For me, flirting with 70 involves love and faith. It means acknowledging and honoring my past, plus the wisdom I gained from it. At the same time, I give gratitude for my life today, and the progress made by our LGBT descendants. As for the future, I can only leave that in God’s hands. To my contemporaries out there, let us continue to pay it forward. I realized, at one point, that I became the role model I wished that I had at 18. Somewhere, a young LGBT brotha is watching our lives.
Believe in dreams and never give up. Stay safe and well.
© 2020 by W.D. Foster-Graham. All rights reserved.
W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness. He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.”
His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood. He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.
Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self.