Age-gap relationships have always been a part of the gay experience.
From the Greeks to Ellen DeGeneres, gay and bi people have always connected across generations.
And while there is still some stigma surrounding them, many people form happy and healthy age-gap relationships.
Look at diver Tom Daley and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who are married but have a difference of 20 years.
Rugby player Sam Stanley is in his late 20s. His long-term partner, Laurence Hicks, is 34 years older.
The two, who met eight years ago via the dating site silverdaddies.com, are planning to marry. Despite this, some accused Stanley of being a ‘gold-digger’, and Laurence of being a ‘perv’.
But it’s not the case. Just like these couples.
Christopher, 36, and Derek, 62, from Cape Town, South Africa
Christopher and Derek met at a birthday party as Christopher’s previous relationship was ending.
‘My now ex-boyfriend hosted it for me,’ he told GSN.
‘When Derek arrived we just clicked. Three months later my ex kicked me out because I would no longer support his drug habit on my pittance of a salary.
‘Derek offered me his spare room. A month after I moved in, we became more than just housemates. Suddenly, we were partners.’
Christopher previously only dated men around his own age. However, he’d always been drawn to older men.
‘Mentally, I feel more on par intellectually [with older men] than guys my age.’
He added: ‘Derek has had an amazing life and has taught me a lot from his life experiences. He has the advantage of hindsight for a lot of my life choices.’
Christopher and Derek have had little issues in their relationship.
‘My family had some problems to start with, but they no longer care because they see I am happy and safe,’ he said.
‘A few people don’t understand it, so we cut those negative people out of our lives.’
Giving advice, Christopher said: ‘Age is just a number, love is love. You as old as you feel and not how you look.’
Jermaine, 27, and his ex, 51, from Southampton, UK
Jermaine is 27, and has always gone after older guys because he likes the way they look.
They also tend to be good listeners, according to him.
Two years ago, he broke up with his train driver ex, who we’ll call Lloyd. Lloyd was just divorcing his husband of seven years when he messaged Jermaine on Grindr.
‘I had no intentions of seeing anyone,’ he tells GSN. ‘It was completely out of the blue. We seemed to just click somehow.’
The two moved in together in three weeks and were together for about three years.
‘I always felt safe around him,’ Jermaine said. ‘I don’t know what it is about older men – they give this aura of protectiveness and security. The conservation was actually good.’
But it didn’t last. One negative about dating older men, Jermaine says, is a tendency to be condescending or arrogant.
The two broke up because of their conflicting work schedules and arguing more often.
But it definitely was not anything to do with the age-gap.
‘[My friends] have always known I’ve liked older men. From what I’ve noticed from people in my age category, people think it’s weird you’re dating someone your dad’s age but they’re having sex with them behind closed doors.’
Jay, 41, and Dan, 21 from Manchester, UK
Dan and Jay met in Gran Canaria, while both on holiday, in 2017.
Jay, 41, had gone on his own and was meeting up guys he knew out there.
They met on the third day, and as drama was going on among mutual friends, they hit it off straight away.
‘We spent the rest of the holiday in each other’s company and when we got back to the UK met up and started dating,’ Jay tells GSN.
‘We weren’t sure if it would work due to the age difference however the more we spent time with each other the more we realised we wanted to be together.’
He likes dating younger guys like Dan because they’re more adventurous. Him and Dan spend lots of time together traveling, socializing and going to the gym.
‘Dan has always gone for older guys. He’s mature for his age and he finds guys of a similar age just aren’t as switched on. He says they don’t seem to have the same work ethics as him. The majority of his friends are also older than him.’
It helps they also have friends who are also in age-gap relationships.
‘We find that the age gap works for us both,’ Jay adds.
‘It helps keep me young and Dan finds that he can have grown up conversations that he wouldn’t normally have with someone his own age. As long as you share the same values and both want the same thing out of life then age shouldn’t be a factor.
‘There is no jealousy between us and trust is paramount.’
At first, Jay was worried about Dan’s parents. But while the age-gap gives people a reason to ‘talk’, all their friends and family are happy for them.
‘A relationship is between two people,’ Jay adds.
‘I met his parents quite soon after getting together and they could see how happy Dan was and how switched on I was.’
Jay believes age is just a number.
‘Just because we’re 20 years apart doesn’t define who we are as people or as a couple,’ he says.
‘They aren’t for everyone and we get that. However the majority of couples who we know who are also in age gap relationships all agree that they just work.
‘We say if you meet someone and your concerned about the age gap then don’t be. Get to know the person first and see if you have similar interests, You may be surprised.’