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"Karen, all straight people age."—Jack McFarland, Will & Grace
LGBT characters are becoming more common on TV. However, they are still generally pretty young. This may be tied to the fact that characters over 50, gay or straight, rarely discuss (much less have) sex at all on television, as well as having grown up in a time very hostile to homosexuality.
Obviously not at all Truth in Television, but slightly justified in that most people from older generations grew up in a time where the expectation to being straight was so unquestionable, that many gay people lived their lives pretending to be straight and/or suppressing any homosexual urges, and are just now beginning to come out of the closet. In this past of such strict taboo, Nobody Over 50 Is Gay was the more straightforward assumption. So now, Nobody Over 50 Is Gay. Even Heteronormative Crusaders generally acknowledge that gay people of diverse age exist, but that they should Get Back in the Closet -- only those more strictly isolated from this information (such as older generations in the past, or media-restrictive religious communities) may actually fail to fathom the existence of gay people in their midst.
This trope even applies in gay media, due to a heavy focus on youth and conventional beauty. If older gays appear at all, it's mostly to mentor the younger heroes or lecherously chase after them. This trope doesn't really apply in the United Kingdom, however, thanks to a lot of publicity from celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Elton John. In the US, this trope is slowly fading as openly gay celebs get older.
See also No Bisexuals. Combine the two, and can anyone name a single bisexual over 50 in fiction? (Besides Captain Jack Harkness, who is well over 2000 and is an Extreme Omnisexual played by a forty-year-old.) Someone who intends to enforce that no one must be gay (or that gay people must be invisible) is a Heteronormative Crusader. When gay people are well understood to exist but are routinely swept away from mention in mixed company, it is Get Back in the Closet.
Natch, this is common enough that only exceptions are considered noteworthy.
Anime and Manga
- In Full Metal Panic, Gauron looks to be around 50, and is very gay for Sousuke. Apparently, even at that age, he has no problems talking about his sexual fantasies to Sousuke (who reacts like any normal teenager would, Squicking at Too Much Information). Of course, it's even more disturbing for him, since Gauron's fantasies involve him -- or, more accurately, his corpse.
- An elderly lesbian couple show up in the Girls Love Manga Ame-iro Kouchakan Kandan and comment about the tea shop owner's growing attraction to her employee. The elderly couple admit that they've been together for 50 years.
- The old merchant Yamatoya in Peacemaker Kurogane. He rapes Suzu after picking him up off the streets, as well as two twin kitty boys.
- Old Lord Trancy from episode 8 in Black Butler II who rapes Alois and possibly other young boys as well.
- Steve Traynor, the police captain in Top Ten, is around 50-60 years old, and is gay (albeit largely closeted). His boyfriend, Wulf, is about five-to-ten years older. They were WWII super-heroes, and started seeing each other when Steve, a.k.a. Jetlad, was 16.
- Ray Monde in Hellblazer is an elderly gay man who is friends with the protagonist, John Constantine.
- Alex Burgess and Paul McGuire in The Sandman, though they're young on their first appearance and age over the course of the story.
- Ultimate Edwin Jarvis, Tony Stark's butler.
- Played with with the guy who turns out to be the murderer in Green Arrow: Quiver. He wasn't actually gay, just faking to earn the sympathy of the title character.
- In Circles, Paulie is well over 50 and gay. He also has AIDS.
- Steve "Captain America" Rogers' childhood best friend, Arnie Roth, was revealed to be gay when the two met up again for the first time since WWII. As Steve was born in 1917, and the meeting occurs in 1982, Arnie was probably around 65 at the time.
- It was eventually revealed that two of Marvel Comics's WWII heroes, the Destroyer and Union Jack, were lovers before the war and kept up the relationship while fighting the Nazis.
- As most of the cast are lesbians who, unlike some comic strip characters, age, this is naturally averted in Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For. Most of the regular characters are now pushing middle age, and Sydney had an ongoing affair with her former literature professor Madeleine who is probably in her 60s.
- Francis Albany and Olivia Sturgess.
- Destiny and Mystique are bisexual, though the latter doesn't naturally age, so it's easy to forget she's almost 100.
- In Small Favors, Sage is interested in meeting a cute girl for sex and romance, somehow not noticing that she's in an Improbably-Female Cast and that some of those she passes by are checking her out with obvious attraction. And then she sits on a park bench and we see that the fifty-plus woman at one end of the bench is picturing Sage naked.
- Brian from Locke and Key.
- In the Doctor Who Magazine story "The Woman Who Sold the World", it's all but outright stated that the two elderly women the plot focuses on are partners. The collected edition confirms it and notes that the story was written before Gridlock gave us the Cassinis.
- This Gargoyles fanfic briefly features a gay gargoyle named Kashi. He is 120 years old. (That's 60 in "gargoyle years")
- The hero's quasi-mentor figure in French comedy The Closet is gay and quite old.
- Never explicitly stated, but in The Grinch, it's implied that the Grinch was adopted by two older lesbians.
- In Victor/Victoria, Carroll "Toddy" Todd is clearly over 50. His age isn't mentioned exactly, but there were a few "old queer" comments he made about himself and the actor playing him was 63 when it was filmed.
"There's nothing more inconvenient than an old queen with a head cold."
- The Birdcage, or La Cage aux Folles, the French movie that it was a remake of; both movies very prominently featured middle aged gay couples. The major plot point of the movie being of course that these older gay men understand very well the "expectation to be straight" of their son's prospective parents-in-law (even though they have been 'out' all their lives) and attempt to 'play it straight' for them.
- The 2007 remake of Poseidon had a number of middle-aged gay men on board the ship, having attended as a group.
- The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy has John Mahoney and his partner.
- Eddie Argo in WΔZ.
- Fools Gold (2008) featured a couple of middle-aged gay chefs who'd been together for years.
- Though the character lacks screen time on account of it being his funeral, the family patriarch in Death at a Funeral had been secretly seeing a man (played by Peter Dinklage) for some time before his death.
- In the British comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, a boisterous charismatic party lion played by Simon Callow in his mid-forties drops dead from heart failure during the third wedding, which leads to the titular funeral and the very moving eulogy given by his male partner.
- In Shortbus: Ceth speaks with a man named Tobias while at the club. He says he used to be the mayor of New York, is quite old, and talks about what it was like to hold that office while gay and closeted during the AIDS epidemic, among other things.
- A particularly brutal example of this trope in Milk, about real-life Harvey Milk. He was murdered before he turned 49, along with the pro-gay rights mayor, George Moscone.
- In Boat Trip by, of all people, Roger Moore. He plays a gay man in his late 60s.
- In the movie The Kids Are All Right Annette Bening, who was 51, played one member of a lesbian couple. Her partner was played by Julianne Moore, who was 49.
- In Gods and Monsters, the gay actor Ian McKellen plays the real-life gay film director James Whale (most famous for directing the 1931 movie adaptation of Frankenstein), who develops feelings for his young gardener (played by Brendan Fraser). McKellen was 59 when the movie was released, and Whale in the movie is even older.
- Christopher Plummer's character in the Ewan McGregor film Beginners is a septuagenarian who came out after his wife died and embraces the gay lifestyle, even taking in a younger man as a lover.
- The documentary "Valentino: the Last Emperor", which focuses on Italian designer Valentino and his business partner/life partner, with whom the designer has been in a relationship with for nearly 50 years.
- Avant que j'oublie (Before I Forget), which is all about aging as a gay man.
- In a deleted scene from Love Actually, Bernard's headmistress going home to her sick partner to tell her all about her day.
- 101 Reykjavík. Two middle-aged women fall in love and have a kid.
- In Bent, Max has a conversation in the park with his Uncle Freddie, who is a closeted gay man. Ofcourse this takes place in 1930's Nazi Germany so it's a tad understandable.
- J. Edgar depicts John Edgar Hoover and his deputy Clyde Tolson as two men in love with each other well into their old age. Whether or not this was true of their real-life counterparts is still a matter of debate.
- In The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Terrence Stamp plays a transsexual character called Bernadette.
- Julia's friend Cesar in uncovered.
- According to Word of Gay, the kindly, eccentric mentor figure Dumbledore from Harry Potter, who was over 100 years old. As his heart was broken early on, turning him into something of a Celibate Hero, this could be a Double Subversion.
- The uncle in Lauren Weisberger's Everyone Worth Knowing is an old, gay, politically conservative newspaper columnist.
- Jennifer Crusie's Crazy for You involves the heroine's (late fifties) mother coming out about her relationship with her best friend.
- 83-year-old Mabel Schneider in Survivor by J.F. Gonzalez. Granted, she also happens to be a sadomasochistic, cannibalistic Psycho for Hire, but she still fits here.
- In Julian Clary's novel Murder Most Fab, the only two characters who are really out of the closet in the whole novel are in their seventies.
- Sourmelina, the main character's grandmother's cousin, in Middlesex. In fact, she didn't technically come out until after she was already over 50.
- In Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe series, DS Edgar Wield is now about fifty and his partner, Edwin Digweed, is sixty or thereabouts.
- Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South makes a point of including gay men of all ages, including a very old man who recounts the gay scene of the 1920's.
- Agatha Christie's A Murder Is Announced features two old (probably over 60) ladies (Hinchcliffe and Murgatroyd) living together. Although of course never explicitly stated to be lesbians, their behaviour strongly hints at this. (It's also possible that Blacklock and Bunner are another such couple, although it's not nearly as clear-cut in this case.)
- A similar arrangement occurs in the backstory of the Lord Peter Wimsey story Unnatural Death -- the victim's wealth was inherited from the lady she lived with. Her niece, in turn, plans on settling down on a farm with a female "friend" who clearly worships the ground where she walks.
- One character in The Mousetrap is a "flamboyant" elderly man (who also, according to his description in the script, bears a superficial -- and deliberately misleading -- resemblance to Hercule Poirot).
- In John Morgan Wilson's Benjamin Justice mysteries, Justice's landlords, Fred and Maurice, are in their eighties. They've been together since shortly after WWII. Or they were, until Fred died in Spider Season.
- Outlander: Lord John is presumably in his forties, if his age is anywhere near that of Jamie's. Since the books don't seem to stop quite yet, he may very well live quite a bit longer.
- Joseph Hansen's detective Dave Brandstetter is closing in on seventy in the final novel of the series.
- Alan in Old Mans War is 75, and his "arousal test" was administered by a naked man. Of course, it's a couple centuries in the future.
- Dr. Aaron Rothman is in his thirties when he's rescued from a band of Eaters in the first volume of the Emberverse, but is still around for the later series, two decades later. He's gay, stylish, and thinks you look downright butch in those jeans and flannel shirt. Delia de Stafford's husband Rigobert appears to be somewhere in his 50s, a handsome and dangerous Manly Gay.
- In Smiley's People, Connie Sachs, who is well over 60, has a younger girlfriend.
- In Chalion, Saint Umegat was gay. His first lover was dead before the story began, but it's heavily implied that he has a new one now: his mute assistant in the menagerie.
Umegat (on being a saint}: Lust, I'm glad to say, seems largely unaffected.
- Doctor Who
- In the episode "Gridlock", there is an elderly lesbian married couple. They are conspicuously treated as nothing to bat an eyelid about - except by the "old-fashioned" cat-man Thomas Kincaid Brannigan, who insists on referring to them as sisters. His embarrassment and prudishness is played for ironic laughs - Brannigan himself is a giant anthropomorphic cat, married to a human woman. With a brood of half-human children 'played' by kittens. Talking kittens. Not to mention that they all live about 5 billion years in the future.
- Millington and Judson in "The Curse of Fenric" have Word of Gay from the writer of that serial.
- It's also hinted at in the novelisation.
- "The End of Time" Part One sees the Doctor getting admired and hit on by a group of Wilf's elderly friends, including one of his male friends.
- Slings and Arrows has at least three older gay characters: Those Two Guys, Frank and Cyril, who are an elderly gay couple, and Oliver, the ghost and former director.
- In Dream On, the main character's father.
- Mr. Humphries, of Are You Being Served.
- In an episode of Law and Order, a man is found murdered outside a gay bar. One of the people questioned is the bartender, a grey-haired Straight Gay who actually calls out this trope by talking about how the "pretty boys keep to themselves." In another episode, Detectives are re-interviewing suspects in a 30 year old unsolved murder case, one of whom is a gay man who's now in his 60's.
- In the later seasons of Scrubs, thanks to fliers from the Janitor, JD's deck (no, he doesn't own a house, just a deck) becomes a hotspot for gay seniors.
- In a later episode of Jackass, Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze dressed up as a ninety-year-old gay couple to engage in a public display of affection.
- An episode of The Drew Carey Show once featured Drew taking on an elderly gay couple as boarders. Even better, they were Adam West and Max Gail.
- In Little Britain, but only for laughs: practically everyone in Llandewy Brefi has some inclination for homosexuality regardless of age, much to the annoyance of Daffyd Thomas, who claims to be the "only gay in the village".
- An SNL digital short features Jonah Hill confessing to Andy Samberg that he's been sleeping with his father -- complete with scene of Jonah Hill making out with a 53-year-old man.
- Saul Holden from Brothers and Sisters. He had a few beards in his time and still has a beard of the hair variety. Born in 1939, he was in the closet for most of his life, but is now out and recently joined a dating site for "gay men of a certain age".
- In Grace Under Fire Grace's ex-husband's father (Emmett) was gay. Which Grace found out when she and her then boyfriend accidentally wandered into a gay bar. Emmett and his long term partner had been meeting secretly for decades, as Emmett didn't want to come out to his wife. The lover then shows up at Emmett's funeral a few episodes later.
- Frank Pickle on The Vicar of Dibley came out partway through the series as a homosexual after forty years in the closet, and did so over the local radio show set up by the vicar. The only problem? Frank's normally so very, very dull that everyone in town turned off their radios as soon as he came on. He was thrilled with how accepting everyone was the next day.
- Midsomer Murders, where it's not too uncommon for 60-80 year olds who are pretending to be sisters to turn out to be a lesbian couple, and an aged, retried, and flamboyantly gay actor decided to chop off people's heads with a guillotine.
- An early episode of Cold Case which dealt with a 1964 gaybashing. Both an elderly drag queen and a Straight Gay lawyer show up.
- Dead Like Me: In "The Bicycle Thief", Mason has to reap a middle aged gay couple.
- The L Word's lesbians are generally young, but seasons 4 and 5 have featured Cybill Sheppard as a college dean who realizes she's gay and has to deal with the impact of her coming out on her children and husband of many years.
- The short-lived 2000 Normal, Ohio was about a midwestern Straight Gay played by John Goodman.
- Middle-aged African American couple Steve & Edy from the X-Files episode "X-Cops", a Straight Gay and a Performance Artist.
- On Cosby, Hilton got onto a gay men's softball team because he didn't know what the team's name, "Older and Out", meant.
- Six Feet Under features an older gay couple in the episode "Nobody Sleeps"; Keith's boss Roger Pasquese is at least middle-aged and quite flaming; and in the finale, Keith dies in his sixties while David survives into his eighties and is shown having met another man.
- Bernard in the British Queer as Folk is quite plainly over 50 and still apparently active.
- The U.S. version of Queer as Folk
- In the first season, after David asks Michael to move in with him, Mikey has mixed feelings about it, so David takes him to meet two seventy-something gay partners who met in World War II and have been together for over fifty years to show him that a long-term gay relationship can work.
- Michael's Uncle Vic is well into his fifties and he's openly gay.
- George Schickle, Emmett's love interest for season two, is over 70-years-old.
- In The Worst Week of My Life, Mel's sixty-something Uncle Fraser angsts about coming out after decades of repression. In the second series he is involved with Gerard, a confident and unabashedly gay dance instructor. Gerard's ditched him for a younger model in the Christmas special, but while the relationship lasted it was refreshing to see an older couple on TV, complete with all the jealousies and affectionate moments usually reserved for their younger counterparts.
- Doctors did an episode in which Ronnie suspected that the 70-year-old Gwenyth's equally old girlfriend was after her money. He turned out to be wrong.
- In the Taiwanese film, Formula 17, Bai and Tien encounter a sexagenarian who gives them dating advice and happens to be gay himself.
- In ER John Mahoney guest-starred as a gay man whose lover was dying. The episode ended with him doing a drag act in a gay club.
- In the Spike TV original series The Kill Point, the elderly hostage Bernard is revealed to "have come out of the closet in 1953"
- Ed had an episode in which the title character discovered that elderly Charlie Hudson was gay, a secret Ed then had to keep from Charlie's family until the will was read. This lasted until Charlie's just-as-elderly boyfriend showed up to the funeral.
- In Lost, there's Tom, whose actor is 61.
- Frasier had an episode where Marty pretended to be gay and date the uncle of one of Frasier's crushes.
- And there was the episode where Frasier himself ended up accidentally dating Patrick Stewart.
- Although Reginald Hill averts the trope in the novels, the TV adaptations of Dalziel and Pascoe embrace it wholeheartedly: Wield's partner Edwin Digweed, closing in on sixty in the novels, pops up as a man in his early thirties.
- Berlutti's mother on The Practice came out in an early episode.
- Dr. Cooper's mothers in Nurse Jackie, played by Swoosie Kurtz and Blythe Danner.
- Eddie, the vampire played by Stephen Root for a few episodes of True Blood.
- Roseanne's very conservative sixty-something mother eventually let her attraction to women slip out during Thanksgiving dinner, shocking everyone (including the gay couple she had been yelling at moments before). Afterwards she comes out and starts dating a woman.
- Of course, this was in the last season, which turned out to be actually just be a novel Roseanne was writing... Technically, this never happened. But it still kind of counts.
- Ghost Whisperer when it was revealed that Eli's mother had a very long-term affair with her husband's business partner's wife, which they once hid by pretending she was having an affair with the husband. This comes out after Eli's father dies (the mother had died several years earlier); cue both ghosts haunting the couple out of anger (the husband) and fear of exposing the affair (the wife, because she had died during one of their rendezvous).
- The Amazing Race had a middle-aged gay team in its first season--Joe and Bill, more commonly known as "Team Guido." When they returned for the All-Stars season, they even referred to themselves as "two gay grandpas."
- Also with Kate & Pat, the lesbian ministers on Season 12, and Mel on Season 14.
- Drop the Dead Donkey averts this in the form of Helen's mother revealing that an aunt wasn't really an aunt.
- Chelsea's father, Tom (Stacy Keach) on Two and A Half Men comes out of the closet and leaves her mother for his old war buddy, Ed (John Amos).
- On Desperate Housewives, Lynette reconnects with one of her mother's ex-husbands. He comes out of the closet much to Lynette's surprise, as Lynette had simply blamed her mother for driving the only loving father she had away. Her stepfather (played by Richard Chamberlain, see below) also mentions having a lover who had been recently deceased but offers to be his ex-wife's caretaker out of friendship.
- In Ellen, one of her father's old plumber friends turns out unexpectedly to be Straight Gay.
- Lampshaded on Will and Grace, in the episode "Cop To It," when Jack (who was the host of a talk show on a gay-themed cable channel) received a letter from a closeted 16-year-old boy who lived in a small Ohio town, who wanted advice on how to come out. Jack went to Ohio to visit the boy in person, convinced that if he could get the boy to come out to his family on his show, he'd have all of the ingredients for a heartwarming Very Special Episode. When he got there, he realized that the "boy" was actually a 60-year-old, who was embarrassed that at his age he still hadn't worked up the courage to come out. Jack abandoned the project without any hesitation, convinced that no one in the audience could possibly relate to an older person, until Karen convinced him that a 60-year-old was just as deserving of his attention. (In a Crowning Moment of Funny, he convinced the man to take the first step out of the closet by coming out to a stranger at a bowling alley - unaware that the stranger he chose was the man's son.)
- Grey's Anatomy has averted this at least twice. Keith David appeared in the first season as a patient with a failing liver who kept flirting with George, and an elderly lesbian couple was featured in "Almost Grown"(7x05).
- The 80s sitcom Love Sidney, in which a Tony Randall played a gay man in his 50s, who takes in a single mom and her daughter.
- Blanche's little brother in The Golden Girls. It's never specified how old he actually is (Blanche never revealing her real age plus the show's generally loose time line doesn't help), but he's at least in his late 40's.
- Dorothy's friend Pat, who actually developed feelings for Rose.
- Robson Arms has a mostly Straight Gay couple; the drama in their relationship comes not from their being gay, but because it's a May-December Romance. Another elderly resident of the eponymous apartment believes them to be father and son.
- In Skins third generation, Frankie's older father is obviously over 50.
- In a short-lived 70's series, The Hot L Baltimore, the residents of the hotel included a middle aged gay couple, George and Gordon.
- In one episode of Casualty, Toby treats one half of an elderly gay couple (initially believing their cover story that they're "brothers-in-law"); there are hints of this trope at play though, as being told that they're actually a couple weirds him out enough that it puts the brakes on his romance with Ben and general Coming Out Story.
- In The Wire, the hard-ass Deputy Commissioner Rawls is spotted in the background of a gay bar with an uncharacteristic grin. He's in his fifties.
- When Rachel Berry's two gay dads finally appear on-screen in Season 3 of Glee, they're both grey-haired and well into their fifties, visibly older than the few parents of other teenage characters shown to date.
- Revolver Ocelot of the Metal Gear Solid series, who's been carrying a torch for Big Boss since the 1960s. In Metal Gear Solid 4 he notably grabs and kisses Old Snake during a fight. Of course, everyone is gay for Big Boss.
- For that matter, Big Boss himself is bisexual, according to Word of God.
- Morris and Armand in Cute Knight Kingdom are definitely over 40 at least.
- From the Puyo Puyo series comes the Camp Gay Oshare Bones, stated in Puyo Puyo! 15th Anniversary to be at least 150 years old. However, he does happen to be undead.
- Shigure Tachibana from Morenatsu is 68. But not surprising in a Queer Media Visual Novel where almost Everyone Is Gay.
- In Alpha Protocol, the 60+ year old Conrad Marburg is implied, though not outright stated, to be homosexual.
- Depraved Bisexual Reaver (voiced by Stephen Fry) is well over 50 by Fable III.
- Friendly Hostility features an adorable middle-aged gay couple (Hans and Mr. Cohen) who own the sandwich shop that Bootsie works at.
- Questionable Content has Marten's father Henry, and his partner Maurice. Dora's immediate response to meeting Henry is the observation that Marten is going to be hot when he goes gray. Henry gloats over this indirect compliment to Maurice, who happily agrees.
- In Something Positive, Branwen's father was gay. Granted, he died a few years shy of this trope, but his still-living ex-boyfriend Leland probably counts.
- And then there's Avogadro and the prison warden.
- Wally and Gus from Mission Hill.
- Dale's father on King of the Hill.
- Possibly Leonardo Leonardo from Clerks the Animated Series.
- An elderly man comes on to Grampa in an episode of The Simpsons.
- Woodhouse in Archer is likely the oldest man alive, and still mourning the death of Reggie from The Great War. It's implied most of his unit was gay.
- Obviously, every single real life gay person who lives to see his or her fiftieth birthday defies this trope.
- Israeli singer Korin Allal came out at 46, rocker Yehuda Poliker came out at the age of 60, Israeli singer Yehudit Ravitz came out when she was 53, and director and former actor Tsedi Tsarfati came out at the age of 70.
- James Randi came out at the age of 81.
- Sir Ian McKellen.
- Sir Elton John, bonus points for now raising his son with his husband in his sixties.
- Stephen Fry.
- George Takei
- Rudolf Brazda, the last gay concentration camp inmate, who died at the ripe old age of ninety-eight.
- Melvin Dwork, a gay WWII veteran who got his discharge from the military changed from dishonorable to honorable.
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
- Tim Gunn (born in 1953).
- The Swedish diplomat Sverker Åström, who came out publicly at the age of 87.
- David Ogden Stiers came out in 2009 at the age of 66.
- Bertrand Delanoë, the current mayor of Paris, came out in 1998 at 48.