The Stealth Warrior
By Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Turner is handsome. But not in the twinkish way one stereotypically imagines of much younger husbands. When I meet the couple for lunch, I'm struck by how Turner's goatee and pensive eyes give him the demeanor of someone older than his 34 years.
Proving that it's not only the differences but the similarities that make any relationship work, it's not surprising that Maupin's new husband is just as passionate about exposing unexplored aspects of gay life to the world. The two met after Maupin saw Turner's personal ad on Daddyhunt.com'the dating Web site the latter founded five years ago. Now his company, Pantheon Productions, owns another site, HotOlderMale.com, for which he produces porn movies featuring older men.
'I never imagined myself running a company that produces porn,' Turner says. 'But a lot of my motivation was political, believe it or not. I wanted to say that it's OK to be attracted to older guys, and I wasn't seeing my kind of man being celebrated.'
It's hard to argue that intergenerational gay romance is simply a niche fetish: Turner's personals site alone has over 100,000 members. But such relationships are certainly not discussed frequently in gay media. And when they are, they're often viewed with suspicion.
Turner is under no illusions as to how his relationship with Maupin might be received by those who don't know them.
'There's always the assumption that if there's a big age difference,' Turner says, 'the two parties are using each other in some way.'
The discomfort works from the inside out as well. Turner admits that it was a little daunting bringing Maupin home to meet his parents.
'He's a couple of years older than my parents. It took my dad longer to warm up to him than anyone else. Armistead is the first person that I have ever taken home. I just wanted to get it right before I introduced someone to my whole family,' Turner says, adding that after a short time together, 'it really was no issue for anyone.'
Which is pretty easy to believe. For 30 years Maupin has made us all comfortable. Through his Tales of the City characters he's made many straight people comfortable with fun-loving, flag-waving homosexuals, transsexuals, bisexuals, and 'others.' He's made closeted gay people grow comfortable enough to step out into the world they fear. And now he's easing a self-obsessed gay youth culture into being more accepting of sexuality among the older generation they will eventually belong to. It's all in a day's work for Maupin, essentially.
'Armistead doesn't try to break ground,' Dukakis laughs when I call him a stealth activist. 'He just, as Tennessee Williams would say, 'goes forth' and writes about it. And then everyone else calls it groundbreaking.
'When in reality,' she continues after a moment of thought, 'what feels so new to us is simply 'honesty.' '
Michael Tolliver Livesis published by HarperCollins.