4 Queer Age-Gap Couples on What They’ve Taught Each Other

I moved back to Berlin to pursue my music career, and John stayed in New York, where he’s a professor and set designer. John has always been very supportive of me having my own adventures. We’re committed to each other in a very strong way, but also acknowledge that we’re both at different stages in our lives. When he said he was okay with doing long distance, I proposed to him a week later. We’ve been together for seven years and he’s moving to Berlin this year. Because nothing about our relationship is traditional, we wake up and choose each other every day.

When I originally met John, I was very masculine presenting and involved in the bear community. It felt natural to me to grow a beard as soon as I could, because those were the men I was attracted to. I learned how to be a man from being with older gay men. After a while, I realized that I was reading off a script that wasn’t really mine. I came out to John as non binary a few months after we met, and two years later, told him I was thinking of transitioning. I kind of thought that it would be the end of our marriage, but our relationship has grown so much stronger. John has also realized that sexuality is more complicated than he thought it was. He prefers not to label himself, but would say that he’s queer.

I understand why people might have certain knee-jerk responses to queer age-gap relationships, but I think it’s important to interrogate the impulse to conflate something that makes you uncomfortable with something that is morally wrong. Much of the anti-queer hysteria going on right now is essentially doing the same thing. There is a responsibility, especially in the current climate, to acknowledge that grown-ass adults can do what they want.

Courtesy of the subjects

Susana Walas, 37, Lashun Walas, 53, Atlanta, GA

I met Lashun in a church group that was supposed to help us with impure thoughts. We were both religious at the time, and had been taught that it was a problem being attracted to the same gender. We ended up falling for each other, so needless to say the group did not work [laughs].

Lashun was 45 at the time, and I was 29. She’s so youthful in appearance and energy that I was shocked when she told me her age. I was also intrigued and excited, because I had always felt a little bit bored dating people in my age group. She was my first relationship with a woman. Lashun had been with women previously, but I was her first relationship out in the open. We both had to try to make sense of what we felt, and how it aligned with the faith we were raised in.

It was harder for Lashun to adapt in our first few years together, because she had spent a great deal of her life hiding that part of herself. I’m from Jamaica, and while my culture is coming around — we’ve had our first couple of Prides — it’s definitely still a very touchy subject. But I still had a mentality of saying, “I really don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m gonna be me and be free.” We got tired of being mistaken for mother-daughter in public, so we decided to create an apparel line for same-gender couples in a similar position.

I remember when we saw on TV that gay marriage was legalized in the U.S. We looked at each other and said, “That’s just too much. We’re not going to take it that far.” But we did the lesbian U-Haul thing and wound up getting married about two years after we met. We’re going to Greece in April to renew our vows.

There is a beauty in watching her go through the different stages of life. One subject that’s not talked about enough is menopause, which has been very hard. But I have a unique level of compassion because I know that in 10 years or so, I will be in the same place. There’s also a beauty in her sureness versus me trying to figure out the right path. Sometimes I find myself wanting to catch up, but then I have to remember that I need to step back and go through my stages. She’s so settled in who she is and it’s almost like a little peek into my future, the level of stability and assurance that I’m gonna have as a woman.

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