Was it 2004? Or maybe 2005. I met kelly shortandqueer at the Madison Zine Festival the year that I lived there. I remember carrying in boxes of zines with kelly and being struck by how friendly and outgoing he was. I think the last time I saw kelly in person was a few years back now, in Boston, when he was on tour with the Tranny Road Show. Recently, we worked together to organize an event at the Denver Zine Library with artist Cristy Road. In addition to helping to run the zine library, kelly continues to do his long-running zine Short and Queer.
One of my closest friends over the past few years is 48 years old. He’s been with me through some hard times, lending an ear and helpful feedback – both validation and challenging me to look at my responses with a new perspective. I can’t even count the number of times he’s started a sentence with, “You probably don’t want to hear this, but…” Each time, I’d have to stop him and assure him that I know he’s going to give me some push back and if I didn’t want to hear it, I wouldn’t have called him. Often, the end of that sentence would relate in some way to my young age. It never felt like he was expressing ageism. On the contrary, I’ve been grateful for his willingness to share his experiences and wisdom with me. I’m conscious of my own social location in terms of identity development and figuring things out. I know it’s likely that in the future, I’ll look back on where I am now, understanding a whole lot more about the world and have a different perspective of my own, yet again.
I’m turning 30 in about three months and am beyond excited. Maybe this excitement was influenced by my mom’s joy in aging (I remember she called 44 and 55 her power years). Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending more and more time with people older than me, specifically older LGBTQ folks in square dancing and two-stepping contexts. These folks have been models for me in several ways. Many of them have created chosen families that have provided support over many years. They’ve been through so much in their combined lifetimes that I’m continually impressed by the love and joy they share with the world despite hard times, crises and heartbreak. It’s also great to be surrounded by older folks who are confident, desirable and sexual. When I think about people who dread turning 30 (or more generally getting older), specifically around perceived attractiveness, I want to introduce them to my friends who have seemed to figure out how to age gracefully (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc).
A pattern, which I hope continues, is that the older I’m getting, the more things seem to be calming down. I feel more confident, comfortable and flexible. I still have adventures and late nights out dancing. I’ve found a balance between stability and spontaneity – at least a balance that works for me right now. I think that I’ve made it through my Saturn Return in one piece and have found that the most effective nursing for those bumps and bruises along the way has been living with intention and integrity.
As a trans guy, I’ve always looked young for my age. For years, I’ve had people constantly telling me how much I’ll appreciate it when people tell me how young I look in the future. That may be true, but I’m also excited about getting older, having my presence and looks reflect my age. I can’t wait to have eye crinkles (crow’s feet) that physically demonstrate the joy I experience in life from years of smiling so much. As a sucker for salt & pepper hair, I’m excited to have some gray of my own start coming in. Since starting testosterone in 2005, my physical appearance is starting to catch up with my age and I couldn’t be happier.
For the past year, whenever anyone has asked how old I am, my response has been, “I’m 29… and turn 30 in June.” My plan for my birthday, which I hope to pull off, is 30 days of 30. The question now is what a reasonable 30 days of celebration looks like. I think it’ll include cooking with friends, lots of two-stepping, laying in grass, margaritas, slumber parties, game nights and discussions about how to create a loving community that honors age and experience and how we, as queer and trans people, will age together, learn from each other and share in each other’s lives. For now, I’ll keep listening to Tim McGraw’s My Next Thirty Years and figure out what I want those years to look like in my own life.