Across the country the temperatures are dropping; fall has truly arrived. If you are like me this means you’ll start spending more time inside curled up with a good book. Sadly though there aren’t a lot of books geared toward gay men interested in intergenerational relationships. However, this fall a new one has hit the market that just might scratch that itch; Older Man / Younger Man: A Love Story.
Older Man / Younger Man is a memoir by author, and alternative health/spiritual counselor Joseph Dispenza. It tells the story of the author meeting his partner and the story of their first ten years together. At it’s core this story is an honest and revealing narrative about an older man and his partner; thirty years his younger. Dispenza’s book is deeply reflective and offers insight into both the joys and insecurities of sharing a love with someone so different in age. For myself, as a younger partner, it was interesting to have such an intimate look inside the head of an older man in such a similar type of relationship to my own. At the same time so many of his thoughts and feelings were chillingly familiar.
The story is told achronologically; jumping back and forth from the near past, to the distant past, and occasional to fanciful past lives. For the most part the narrative structure keeps the story lively and interesting to read; on several occasions I found myself not able to put the book down for the night (I tend to read before bed). However, in a few rare instances the changes in time-line felt forced; included only to artificially build tension in the story. But, these few stumbles are easy to forgive in an otherwise well conceived book.
Infused within the story is Dispenza’s philosophies on spirituality and personal healing. I don’t consider myself exceptionally spiritual, so for the most part these elements were not particularly compelling. However, there were a few times where the authors thoughts on spirituality and religion were very refreshing. For so many gay men the notion of spirituality is compelling, but due to their experiences with organized religion they have become conflicted and at times even bitter toward that world. Dispenza writes of his own history with Catholicism and later explorations of alternative spiritualities with openness and grace. Within this book there is a sense of reconciliation with spirituality that I think a lot of gay men may find very attractive.
Overall Older Man / Younger Man was a pleasurable read. It is infused with authenticity and intelligence. For those unfamiliar with intergenerational gay relationships it offers much welcomed insight. For those of us in intergenerational gay relationships it offers us a mirror through which we can reflect on our own experiences, values, and aspirations.
Filed under: Commentary, Special Feature Tagged: | age difference, age disparate, author, book, Dispenza, gay, glbt, homosexual, intergenerational, LGBT, may to december, memoir, novel, older men, partner, partnership, queer, relationship, review, romance, Spirituality