Gay Aging After AIDS: Andrew Holleran’s The Beauty of Men (1996)
This chapter examines Andrew Holleran’s The Beauty of Men (1996), a work that parallels AIDS and aging as trajectories of decline while also exposing and critiquing the idealization of success, productivity, and intergenerational legacy. Hess argues that despite the protagonist’s idolization of youth, the narrative differs significantly from previous representations of gay aging. The Beauty of Men not only features a middle-aged (rather than a young) gay protagonist but also presents a new form of queer resistance by turning the protagonist’s profound depression into a stance of defiance. Building on critical views by Angela Jones and Sarah Schulman, the author reads the protagonist’s inertia as a productive intervention into normative ideologies of aging.
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