January 21, 2014 at 10:59 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
My partner is 34 years my senior — so what?
Michael K. Lavers, Andrés Dornberg, gay news, Washington Blade, senior

The writer (on left) and his partner, Andrés. (Photo by Damien Salas; courtesy Michael K. Lavers)

The way that some have reacted to British Olympic diver Tom Daley’s acknowledgement he is in a relationship with a man — rumored to be Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black who is two decades older — has certainly piqued this humble reporter’s interest.

“Creepy,” “strange” and “way too old” are some of the myriad adjectives and phrases used to describe Daley and Black’s rumored relationship that I have read in the media and online. I don’t find my beloved partner who is 34 years older than I “way too old.” And I most certainly do not find the life we share “creepy” or “strange.”

Sheer coincidence brought us together for the first time.

I met Andrés at a Northwest Washington gay bar on July 8, 2010. It was the last night of a three-day trip to the nation’s capital to visit a good friend and his partner. I was extremely happy because my father had just called me from New Hampshire to tell me that I was to become an uncle for the first time.

Andrés and I continued to chat as we left the bar and walked toward Logan Circle on that sultry July evening. I was momentarily surprised when he told me he was 62 – I was 28 at the time, but the age difference truly did not matter. I thought to myself as I returned home to Brooklyn, N.Y. – and my summer job as managing editor of the Fire Island News – the next morning that I had just met a genuinely nice man with whom I wanted to keep in touch.

Andrés and I reunited a few weeks later when he came to New York to visit his family and I quickly realized there was something more to our friendship than our daily phone calls and lengthy streams of text messages. We officially became a couple a few weeks later when he spent Labor Day weekend with me on Fire Island.

A handful of people noted our age difference when we began dating or when they saw us together. These include an airline ticket agent at BWI who asked me whether I was Andrés’ son when we were trying to get onto another flight to travel to a friend’s wedding in New Hampshire. A person who is thankfully no longer a part of my life rather foolishly concluded that I had a “sugar daddy.”

Andrés and I have done many of the same, mundane and dare I say boring things that I assume most couples do since I moved in with him here in D.C. in October 2011. These include kvetching over the day’s news while drinking our morning coffee; making weekly grocery lists and deciding who is going to pick up the dry cleaning or put gas in the car. He also takes a keen interest in my work as a reporter for the Washington Blade and the front-row seat to LGBT history that my colleagues and I continue to enjoy.

My nephew who turns three in March recently called Andrés to wish him happy birthday. And my parents routinely ask about him when we speak and send them their love.

There is certainly nothing “creepy” or “strange” about the life we share as an inter-generational couple. Our friends, family and other loved ones who knew us as single for way too long agree.

Andrés and I are comfortable enough with who we are as people and especially with our relationship not to worry about whether someone may have an issue with our age difference. The same argument should certainly apply to Tom Daley and his rumored boyfriend.

Those who concern themselves with the age difference of two adults who have made the decision to share their lives with each other almost certainly need to spend more time worrying about themselves and assessing their own issues, insecurities, fill in the blank. It is the very simple mantra of mind your own business as those of us from New Hampshire know all too well.

Michael K. Lavers is a news reporter for the Washington Blade. Reach him at mlavers@washblade.com.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

    • David Myers

      You make a lot of assumptions in your comments. Do you actually have any expertise in the fields of psychology/psychiatry/psychoanalysis or are you just the armchair variety? If you do have some expertise, I think it is time for you to go back to school and get “updated”. Your “daddy issues” concept is childish (ironically) sophistry .

    • Sean

      Man I guess you do not live in my world. I am 12 years younger than my husband. We have been together 20 years. I am 48 and he is 60. We have no issues with our sex life and do not suffer from “bed death”. Neither does his father and step mother. His father is 18 years older than his step mom. He is 89 and she is 70. They have been together 38 years. I KNOW that they still had an active sex life 5 years ago….something I really did not need to know. I am happy to say I know several other happy couples but I have made my point. I wanted to point out that it is not just a gay phenomenon.

    • David Myers

      I’m sure there are plenty who do not feel “they have wasted the gold of their youth on this older man”. Maybe you feel that way but that doesn’t entitle you to generalize and say that such feelings are inevitable in all age different relationships. You presume too much. The word cynical comes to mind.

    • Red

      Precisely! There’s a HUGE difference in the maturity of a 28 year old and a 19 year old…… HUGE. Even I used to think that I was “mature for my age” and while I was, I lacked a context about life and life experiences that you only get later on in life…….. for most, male and females, things start to really come together and make sense in your 30’s. Tom D. is just starting to live his life and learn who he is, sexuality included…. If it’s a sexual thing between he and Dustin, cool…. let him sow his wild oats and get some experiences under his belt, have fun! As a relationship or a partner of equals? Mostly MENTALLY, Tom just isn’t equipped or experienced enough yet to be able to offer that. While we can wax poetic about “you never know”, the reality is he’s not and this type of thing is only the beginning of problems that plague the relatioships of people with huge age differences.

  • sara

    everyone needs to give some thought to what kind of care they would need/want if disabled, and at the end of life. i am in my 40s, and have witnessed older people who have only partially done this planning. as a result, their loved ones had to do a lot of stressful scrambling at a time that was filled with stress and grief. i think that planning can help, no matter what the age difference in your relationship.

  • sara

    p.s. i.e., even in your late 40s, start thinking about these things for yourself. long-term care insurance, etc. (if you can afford it).

  • Walt Stewart

    I had a relationship of sorts with a much much younger man. I wound up caring for him because of health issues. It was not ideal, but something we probably both needed, and we did care for each other very much.

  • MileHighJoe

    What’s “creepy” about the Tom Daley/DLB coupling IS NOT their age difference. It’s simply that Tom Daley is a teenager, whose brain is not yet fully formed.

  • http://www.glaaforum.org Richard J. Rosendall

    Tom Daley will be 20 in May. He is old enough to vote, old enough to serve in the military, and above the age of consent. He is capable of making his own decisions. I cannot imagine why anyone else feels entitled to judge his private affairs. People are entitled to find their happiness.

  • Jon

    What a fantastic article, such a beautiful couple with a touching story. My partner and I are actually thirty-four years apart as well! I never could understand how people can criticize something that hurts absolutely no one, I mean it seems to be done purely out of their own feelings of awkwardness within themselves. Everybody knows that is unfair to the people in question; let’s say someone was personally had some problems with an interracial couple getting married, and from that they feel the need to create various reasons why that couple shouldn’t be together. Of course you can find reasons why that couple shouldn’t be together if you already have decided that it makes you very uncomfortable in the first place! Two adults should be allowed to be together; this strange land we are all apart of is complex, and love sometimes comes in unique forms. Why not open your mind to the uniqueness that appears time to time, instead of trying to shut it down because of your narrow perception of reality? Wake up.

  • Sean Kirby

    I posted directly to a comment above which discussed sex drive. Many on this thread have talked about the younger person in the relationship having to take care of the older partner. This is not always the case. I will share my relationship and my in laws as examples of the opposite. I am 12 years younger than my husband. He has had no health problems in our 20 year relationship. I have not been as lucky. He has had to take care of me on several occasions. On 2 occasions I was seriously ill for extended periods of time. His Dad is also in amazing health. He is going to be 89 in July. His step Mom is having her 70th on Feb 2nd. She has been a long term survivor of active stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed at 52. She has had good periods and bad. She has been on chemo so many times I cannot count. She goes on chemo like most people go on vacation. She is an amazing lady. His father has had to take care of her off and on for years. They are going old together. My husband has been blessed with familial long longevity. So it is a crap shoot how will be taking care of who….even with the age difference.

  • Chaz

    The age difference between my husband and I is 14 years (I’m the younger). We love each other and would be lost without each other. We’ve been together over ten years (I stopped counting at ten). We get on extremely well and do everything together and are hardly ever apart. If there is an issue, it is that I still find him incredibly attractive and sexy so much so that all I want is to be in bed with him ALL the time.

  • Ricky Erskin

    Thanks for the story. I found it very encouraging. I am 46 and seriously dating a 20 year old. I love him like no there and do not see him as a 20 year old. This is my first serious relationship with a guy. I have been married twice and in the closet for years and have 4 children. It feels good not hiding any more. Ant advice on our relationship?

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