Does being heavily involved in LGBT communities delay your "youth"?

I hope I don’t offend…

As I mentioned in another thread, I’ve been frequenting gay and lesbian bars as a regular within the last few months.

I can’t help but to notice that many of the gays and lesbians from their late twenties on “look” and act younger than straight people of the same age.

As for “looking” younger, I see women in their 30’s who look like they just walked out of Hot Topic or Forever21, and I see men their 30’s who look “Abercrombie”.

As for acting younger, I can’t put my finger on it quite. The conversation topics tend to revolve around drinking, sex, fashion, fights with significant others, and gossip…opposed to sports, family, pets, work, and hobbies.

Two things though…I’m not knocking these people, I’m one of them, I’m in my late twenties and I feel like I am 21 at heart. And, I don’t think this is only a bar scene thing, I know/knew many LGBT folks from school, work, and sports teams that despise the bar scene, yet a lot of them are quite “youthful” too.

Is this just confirmation bias, or is there something about being gay or lesbian that makes us hard conform to mainstream adult life?

Perhaps it’s because fewer gay people have kids than straight people (or don’t have them as young as heteros do, since accidental pregnancies are not as frequent an occurrence for gay people). A lot of people have less time for drinking, sex, fashion and gossip when they have children. It might even be harder to fit in time for fighting with the SO if you’re busy with the kids. :slight_smile:

A couple of points to make…

You are making a generalized characterization about non-LGBT people, as well as about LGBT people. Perhaps you are suffering from confirmation bias on both counts?

Now, in support of your premise, do you live in a predominately urban area - or sub-urban / rural? Because I could make a similar comparison between unbanites vs non-urbanites. Urbanites, to my eyes, hold onto their youth moreso than non-urbanites. Urbanites are statistically more liberal and maybe more “creative” in their tastes. I think you wouldn’t get much argument saying the same about LGBT folks.

I thought about that, but they seem to be more youthful than straight singles.

Nope, while many of the bars I frequent are located in urban areas, the people themselves tend to be from suburbs or exburbs.

Do you mean prolong?

Yes! :smack:

I think you mean “prolong” youth or “delay” adulthood.

It’s somewhat self-selecting. Urbanites tend to move out of the urban areas into the suburbs once they decide to settle down and raise a family.

Single people, gay or straight, tend to IMHO exhibit behaviors one normally associates with younger people in their teens and 20s. Going to bars and clubs. Paying more attention to appearance and fashion. Drinking, sex, etc. Because why not? First of all, that’s what you need to do to attract a mate. Second, what else do you have to do on a saturday night? Finally, they have a lot more disposable income to do that kind of stuff.

‘Mainstream’ adult life typically consists of getting married, buying a home you can barely afford, working a job you probably hate, having some kids you will marginally pay attention to and generally allowing your physical appearance to deteriorate under the guise of “oh I have more important things to do” when it’s more like “I don’t care, my SO is locked in and I hate my life so why should I try to extend it.”

I don’t know if one lifestyle is necessarily “better”. I have a lot of friends who are single in their 30s and the thing is, no matter how much you look 20-something, you aren’t. One of my friends was expressing how she was sick of the “scene” and I’m like “oh you mean the scene of 38 year old dudes in Ed Hardy T-shirts and women trying to find the line between ‘faboulous’ and ‘painfully pathetic’”?

The only topic of conversation here that seems to have any association with age, or sexuality, is family (presumably ‘spouse and kids’ family)…

I’m in my early 30s, have friends in their mid-late twenties, have always had friends into their 40s and 50s, and work with seniors. I can say that, in my experience, there is no correlation with any of these topics of conversation and age.

People in their 20s - straight, gay, and other - have pets, jobs, and hobbies, and talk about them. People - straight, gay, and other - in their 30s - and beyond - drink, have sex, follow fashion, fight with their SOs, and talk about it. And gossip? I can’t think of any demographic that doesn’t.

It’s about the context and personalities, not the age.

I’d speculate it’s a matter of lesbians being less likely to have had children ( which is wearing on the body ), and of gays taking extra care with their appearance since the men they are trying to attract tend to be picky about looks.

Who gets to define adult life? I hardly see how talking about sports versus sex is more adult. And let’s not forget how many mainstream adult rites are either illegal or less accessible to gay people (engagements, weddings, pregnancy, surprise pregnancy followed by shotgun weddings). How many adults, I wonder, use an unplanned pregnancy as an excuse to settle down?

But okay, I think you mean ‘drama’ of the high school variety. I sort of get that. Perhaps you’re just more privy to conversations that often occur behind closed doors between hetero friends of the same gender?

Also, there is a phenomenon, and I hope I don’t raise ire for saying this, when people come out of the closet where they go bit overboard for about a year. Not everyone, of course, but there are definitely formerly-repressed gay people (especially boys) who feel the need to compensate for lost time, and that often includes sex and drama. They usually get over it. But by then there’s another newbie to fill their spot at the bar or on the dance floor.

Possibly, as far as appearance goes. I’m a queer female and people tend to under estimate both my age and my partner’s… AND they ALSO tend to under estimate the ages of our friends, two straight child-free couples the same age as us (mid-30s to mid-40s). Our fitness levels are probably above average, but about on par with your typical movie “yuppie couples”.

To the OP, if you’re basing your observations on the GLBT people you are seeing socializing in bars, then you will get some confirmation bias. Those of us who are more old-fogey like in our disposition aren’t hanging out in bars. You’ll rarely find us there unless it’s a special occasion. To paint the world with a broad brush, most people I know who hang out in nightclubs, seem to be a lot more “youthful” than those of us who sit around quieter house parties talking about our most recent home renovation. I honestly can’t remember the last time I went clubbing. I think it may have been two years ago.

I was n a GLBT sports league and certainly did notice that the 20-somethings acted like 20-somethings and those of us in our late 30s acted like people in their 30s. And most of us over 30 spent a lot of time complaining about the injuries we got playing our game, so if anything, we all sounded like little old ladies.


Oh, high schoolish drama! Yes, the GLBT community is rife with that. I chalk it up to the fact that if the community is small enough, the standard “six degrees of spearation” probably goes down to “three or four degrees of separation”. On the other hand, the craziest “high school melodrama” I have witnesses in the last couple years has been from straight friends.

Any community in which it is not just possible but likely that you will wind up dating your ex’s ex is going to have more than its share of drama.

A.k.a. fresh meat.

Yes, I can confirm that some repressed gay people go a little crazy at first. I certainly did. Then I met my partner and settled down and got boring. :slight_smile:

I have to criticize the premise of this thread. The people who are “heavily involved in LGBT communities” are not, generally, the people who hang out in bars. That hasn’t been the case since the 60s, before there was such a thing as a gay community. Our community consists of professional organizations, health services, political groups, musical groups (especially choruses), sports groups, religious organizations, and a myriad of others. And oh yes, bars.

If you think you’re seeing a cross-section of gay people at bars, you need to get out more.

Manditory Onion link

I’ve noticed (meaning: I am about to share my own personal obervations, unbacked by anything resembling scientific study or what-have-you) something similar to this as it relates to broader life choices and outcomes (such as education and career): gay males tend to do younger people’s jobs (such as waiting tables) for longer and go to school (or start a “grown-up career”) later. My theory is that having to work out something complicated in your personal life (such as being gay when almost everyone else is straight) delays the ability to do things that other people do as they grow up (such as go to school and get a “grown-up job”). I plan to hopefully counter-act this tendency for my kids by teaching them that it’s OK to be gay (so that they won’t have to struggle with it if they are gay). I also expect that this phenomenon will decrease as LGBT folks become even more accepted.

I suspect many of the women you’re meeting are from the subset of straight women who like to hang around in gay bars. In most communities you’re not actually going to encounter a whole lot of lesbians at a gay bar, so any actual lesbians you are meeting are not going to be a representative sample. I can think of a few 20-something lesbians who’d fit your description but it doesn’t match any of the 30+ lesbians I’ve known.

Even with younger lesbians I find it hard to believe you’re meeting many who don’t want to talk about sports, family, pets, work, or hobbies.