Viral Sensations The Old Gays Open Up for Pride Month

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday July 5, 2021
Originally published on June 29, 2021

The Old Gays
The Old Gays  (Source:Screencap/TikTok)

The Old Gays — four gents of a more mature gay generation — started out doing short videos for Grindr. Now, in a recent interview, the iconic foursome is opening up about their late-in-life fame, Today reported.

"Based in Cathedral City, California, right outside the LGBTQ enclave of Palm Springs, the foursome of gay men, who range in age from the mid-60s to late 70s, were already friends when the dating app Grindr began using them as subjects in videos back in 2018," Today explained.

One member of the beloved quartet, Robert Reeves, 78, revealed that the friends "didn't really get paid anything for" their first Grindr clip. "We just went basically for the fun of it," Reeves explained.


It's that fun-loving sensibility that's helped the foursome make the jump from Grindr to TikTok, where they boast almost one and a half million followers — and where they recently starred in an advertisement for Shake Shack's Pride Shake, the proceeds from which will benefit the suicide prevention organization, The Trevor Project.

@oldgays

Free, proud & gay as can be ?????????? @shakeshack ##oldgays ##shakeshack ##shakeshackpartner ##ad ##out ##free ##proud ##gay ##pride2021?????????? ##lgbtq ##fyp? ? original sound - The Old Gays

TikTok may be considered a hangout for the younger set, but the older fellows fit right in. As Jessay Martin, 67, told Today: "We seem to be making a difference in these young people and to some older people, as well. They're feeling good, too. It's a win-win for them, a win-win for us."

"I think the most important thing that we're educating people on is that 60 years ago, coming out was a real struggle," reflected Bill Lyons, 77, going on to describe how things used to be — and, in too many cases, still are — for younger people who are not heterosexual or cisgender.

"You didn't talk about coming out to your parents or anything," Lyons recalled. "In fact, a lot of situations, I heard when parents found out that one of their children was gay, they kicked him out of the house right away."

Reeves told Today that "many of the younger generation have adopted us [as icons] of the older gay generation, to which they feel a great indebtedness because the strides that have been made over the past few decades."

The group also brings representation to older gay men in a milieu where not being young can mean being invisible.


The fourth member of the group, Mick Peterson, 65, told Today he hopes younger members of the LGBTQ community will "take our experiences" and see them "either as a cautionary tale or something to have a laugh with us on. And maybe they learn not to ignore the old gay at the bar next time."

Reeves observed that the quartet's newfound visibility helps the younger crowd "no longer fear getting old, particularly getting old as a gay person, because when they see us having so much fun about life at our age, it gives them hope."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.