OutUK : Where did you get the idea to write this book?|
John : In the spring of 1999 I visited my friend, Bob, whom I had not seen
in nearly 20 years. He lives in Arizona and was 82 then. As I, in my 60s drove
across the desert between San Diego and Arizona, I thought, 'I sure
would like know what to expect between now and then if I live to Bob's
age.' So, I asked Bob if we could talk about ageing, he said, "OK," and we
sat around his dining room table and explored issues. From that dining
room table chat, later research, and interviews with 4l men I have
written a book that is topical, practical, and straightforward.
Incidentally, that's a three-year gestation -from idea in head to book in hand!
OutUK : What did you talk about to these 41 guys?
John : Everything! Using an interview questionnaire, and I revised it as I
went through the interviews based on experience, we explored issues of
money, work, leisure and volunteering, health, where the men live,
families, spirituality, and yes, for sure, relationships and sex. Death,
too, but the book's tone is upbeat. The focus is on the future. Overall,
"The Gay Man's Guide To Growing Older," is a snapshot of who the men
are right now.
OutUK : What's your background? What do you bring to the enterprise?
John : I'm the real thing, a gay man now in his 70's, born in the depths of the
Great Depression, too young for World War II but just right for the
Korean War, went to college thanks to the GI bill, worked as a lobbyist
for public education for nearly 40 years, and "I'm Still Here," to cite
the Sondheim song! "The Gay Man's Guide To Growing Older" is neither
technical nor academic. It's a book for those who want to know about the
ageing of gay men based on the experience of those who are there.
OutUK : So your book isn't just for gay people.
John : I don't think so. The book is relevant to all families. After
all, just about every gay man comes from a traditional family. And
nearly half of the men in "The Gay Man's Guide To Growing Older" were
married at some point in their lives, three of them twice. The book is a
resource for professionals and to those working in agencies and
companies that provide goods and services to our country's aging population.
Remember, one of every five Americans is over 65, our largest single
population. And baby-boomers are turning 50 at the rate of one every 7.5
seconds. Translate that to gay men: 1.5 to 2 million in the age group
50-65 between now and 2014.
OutUK : Who are the men in The Gay Man's Guide To Growing Older anyway?
John : They're partnered and single, they live in 13 states and the
District of Columbia and their average age is 72 years 10 months. But just as
important as where the men live now is where they lived their earlier
lives. While 83 percent of the men are retired, 37
percent continue to work full or part time jobs. The men are emblematic of
the American melting pot with most tracing their ancestry to Britain and
Europe. Two are African-American, one is multiracial, one is Latino and
two are part Native American. Two are drag queens and one is a leather
daddy. Of the five naturalized U.S. citizens, one made a dramatic
escape from behind the Iron Curtain at the height of the Cold War. Almost to
a man all 41 feel good about life now and look forward to the future.
OutUK : What do the men say their top issues are as they age?
John : Number one is maintaining their health. Having enough money to live
on-and most feel they do-is next. Several men say finding a partner is
important. Those in long term relationship; the longest is 55 years,
treasure their partner and bless their good luck.
OutUK : Do gay men over 65 have sex?
John : Yes and how! Read the book to find out.
OutUK : What's "the good, the bad and the ugly" of gay men's growing older?
John : The good, especially for those who worked all their lives and don't
now, is having time to savour experiences, relax and have the means to
make it all happen. Their number one piece of advice to young gay men:
'Save your money for when you are older; you'll need it!' Relationships
present and past are treasured. The bad might be characterized as stuff
'over and done with,' problems resolved. But unresolved health issues
for some are a major concern. Happily, there's not a lot of the ugly.
Instead, there's life satisfaction, being at peace with the present and a
holding a positive outlook to the future.
OutUK : On the back cover of The Gay Man's Guide To Growing Older
there's a photo of you running. Are you an athlete?
John : Well, yes, I guess so. I began running 30-some years ago, I've run
33 marathons, and I never ran one until I was over 50. In 1981 I was a
founding member of Front Runners San Diego and I run regularly with the
club. I am thrilled to have participated in the Gay Games since 1986
and to have won the Gold medal in my age division in the marathon, half
marathon and 10K. I look forward to the Games in Sydney in November
2002. I'm registered for the 5K and the Half-Marathon. I love hiking and
Alpine skiing. This summer I'm going to England for a six-day 31 villages
hike of 11-12 miles a day in the Cotswolds, the rolling hills in
central England. Besides being fun, the hike will be training for my 2003
goal: a week's walking safari in East Africa followed by climbing the
continent's highest mountain, 19,341 ft Mt. Kilimanjaro. I'm told the
mountain guides constantly tell climbers "po-ley, the Swahili word meaning
"slowly," and that's how I hope to reach the summit!
OutUK : A final question: "The Gay Man's Guide To Growing Older," is your
first book. Was writing it a hard job, did you think you would ever
finish it, and how about awaiting a visit from the muse?
John : None of the above! I loved meeting and interviewing the 41 men in
the book, learning their experiences, plans and aspirations, researching
issues and seeing the book take shape before my eyes on the computer
screen! I'm organized and disciplined-I adhered to the 'writer's' morning
schedule, and stuck to it, with time out for skiing and other breaks
agreed to by a wonderful editor Scott Brassart and never worried
about a visit from the muse. Instead, I sought and found the voices of
the 41 men, and they're loud and clear in "The Gay Man's Guide To
The Gay Man's Guide To Grown Older by John Lockhart is published by Alyson Books
and can be obtained in the UK at £11.99 through