I want to be part of the movement that rebrands aging. I think a big way that can be done is if people stop desexualizing older bodies. It’s also insulting to older people to infantalize them.
And how do you specifically think about art and experience as a way to do so?
You can tell people something all day long but if you show it to them they get it quicker. Performing arts that embrace sexuality as a part of life to be celebrated like burlesque are really appreciated by older audiences because they’re being seen as a whole person.
What does it take to create meaningful intergenerational connections in our communities?
First off, let’s not have this be about mentorship. Let’s break down the mentor model and throw it out the window. That is important, and that’s its own thing. But when I think of building connections, I think let’s all have a really good friend. So if you’re 35, you should definitely have a 21-year-old friend. No excuses, I don’t want to hear it. And if you’re 60, you should have a 40-year-old friend, right? And if you are 70, you should have a 50-year-old friend.
And the opposite way, try to have someone at least 20 years younger than you and at least 20 years older than you as close friends. How do I define that? Someone you can talk to about sex. Someone that’s not tied to your family of origin or your biological family. A friend.
So I’d love to hear more about how you are building a community for queer and trans elders in Austin.
When I moved to Austin, I knew two people. I didn’t know anybody that was older, and I just kept going to the drag shows and hanging out with people in their twenties, thirties, and forties. And I was like, Hey, where are the elders? And they’re like, Oh, we don’t know.
I didn’t stop asking. And somebody saw in a newspaper that the Austin LGBTQ+ Coalition on Aging was having a town hall meeting. It took me six months to find them! After the meeting, I went downstairs in my car and cried because it was such a relief to walk into a room of 45 elders.
Once I found them, they said, “We don’t go out anymore.”
I said, “Cool. I’m having a potluck next Sunday at this community center. It’s going to be amazing. It’s called SageTable, blah, blah, blah.” Thirty-five people came from their twenties to their seventies, and I was just in drag bars inviting people to come to hang out with elders.