Sex talk
Speaking of Youth

Simon Sheppard,

It's a shame, the old saying goes, that youth is wasted on the young. But in the queer men's community, "youth" is a hot commodity indeed.

The mass media, which once celebrated maturely handsome men, have become increasingly fixated on the Abercrombie & Fitch type and his boyish brethren. And the gay media – from ads in the Advocate to pay-per-view porn sites – have eagerly followed suit. "Sexy" has become synonymous with "barely legal" – 20 or 30 years ago, porn stars were hairy and bearded, but today's well-shaved hunks look as hairless as a prepubescent.

There are the obvious physical attractions of younger men – the unlined skin, tight bodies, faces untouched by time. As one mid-40s man who likes guys 20 years his junior says, "Why do I like young guys? Hell, just look at them."

It's not merely a matter of looks. Young guys aren't yet jaded, and they have an untouched-by-time freshness and openness. They're also, typically, horny a hell of a lot of the time. And most are able to get it up and keep it up�repeatedly. Still, this aura of carefree cocksmanship can seem oppressive to some. One young fellow complains, "Because I'm in my early 20s, I feel like I'm expected to be a slut. But I don't want to be�and I'm not."

Paradoxical as it may seem, the young and oversexed can also be romantic idealists. Our mid-40s man says, "The kids are all waiting for Mr. Right, and they don't want to compromise. So when they get laid and expect it to lead to love everlasting, they're setting themselves up for a fall. On the other hand, it seems like most of the criticism I get for being in a long-term open relationship is from younger fellows. Odd."

Young men's age may grant them de facto power, but not everyone buys into the mystique of glowing youth. "I often find guys my own age kind of boring," says a cute 24-year-old. "I look at older gay men as my mentors, and I've discovered that they're hotter in bed, too. They usually have better technique, and they really care about giving me pleasure." That would seem, though, to be a minority opinion. Understandably, most young guys want to fuck around with men nearer their own age. And where intergenerational sex is concerned, there are manifestly more hunky daddies chasing hot boys than the other way around.

Though older guys may envy – and maybe lust after – them, young queer men don't always have it easy. Both self-assured and insecure, many gay men in their late teens and early 20s are still feeling their way through the thickets of sexuality. Many suspect their own appeal: Are those older guys only after them because of the date on their birth certificates? And the simultaneous rise of gay acceptance and homophobic backlash, coupled with the hovering specter of HIV, make growing up gay these days fraught with complications.

While young men are searching for Mr. Right, they can easily go wrong. HIV-prevention specialists bemoan the fact that many young queer men are taking foolish risks. Whether it's because they think that AIDS is an older generation's problem, or perhaps because they can't envision their own mortality, they're having unprotected anal sex...and all too often getting infected.

Still and all, youth can be a golden, cum-drenched time for many a queer man. Many things can help make it so: playing smart, playing safe, respecting one's elders but not being taken advantage of. Being open-minded but realistic. And keeping one's young, ready-to-play pecker up. With any luck, today's young guy will grow older, and the journey will be a long, hot, and horny one. Bon tumescent voyage!

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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