There are various words and slang to describe an older gay man: Daddy, Papi, Sir, Silver Fox, Master, Sugar Daddy etc etc. Ranging from cutesy to kinky, many of these terms carry specific meaning and range in contextual appropriateness and acceptability.
So to help navigate what each term means and when to use it, here’s a quick and lighthearted guide.
Note: Your Starting Point
Not to be obvious, but lots of people don't like being given labels. It can be seen as reductive and putting people in boxes. Some quite enjoy the connotations that can align with certain terms (when used correctly). the big tip is start off by calling people their name, and politely explore if they like/align with another term like those below.
Rant out the way. On with the terms!!
The big one in the LGBTQ+ community. Used outside of the familial sense of children and posh people referencing their fathers, it has a few different ways of being used. Overall it generally describes a man in their 40s/50s/early 60s, often with a bit of a lightly doughy physique or ‘dad bod’.
The term is usually used by younger people to describe an older man as a term of affection ‘Hey Daddy’, or by people of all ages as a reference ‘He’s a hot daddy’. Typically a ‘daddy’ is more attracted to younger men, and may be more prone to take on a more nurturing and mentoring role with a younger partner.
In a sexual context, a ‘daddy’ typically is sometimes a more defined role. The term often denotes the ‘daddy’ as the leader or more dominant one over the younger partner - or ‘son’/’boy’. Because of this the ‘daddy’ is generally seen to be the ‘top’ in this more dominant role. The term is often found in pornography with an older younger couple usually conforming to these roles and helping popularise and reinforce this stereotype.
Because of the concept of dominance/seniority that many align with this, some younger than the standard 40+ mark may wish to be called ‘daddy’ in a sexual sense.
This is quite a polarising term that some ‘daddies’ enjoy, aligning to these stereotypes. Others fiercely reject as they see is as a negative stereotype that promotes inequality in their relationship. Key advise would be to not assume someone likes being called a 'daddy'.
The same as the ‘daddy’ meaning above, but with a beefier and more muscular physique than your typical ‘dad bod’ type. To get this they may go to the gym a lot. If they are quite camp they may be referred to in jest as a ‘Muscle Mary’.
Normally someone in their 40s/50s/60s that is typically seen as ‘conventionally handsome’. Think newsreader or a man in a catalogue laughing whilst wearing a scarf. A term that is in both used in LGBTQ+ vocabulary and outside. There are no specific ‘daddy’ type connotations direclty aligned with this concept, though a Silver Fox can also be a ‘daddy’ and vice versa.
A ‘daddy’ type in their 40s/50s/60s, with either graying or more normally totally grey/white hair. Some may just refer to these people as ‘daddies’ and this is a lesser used term. It is generally used to describe someone in the third person or online rather than as nickname or to their face in a serious context. There are some links with an older younger gay dating website called SilverDaddies.com
This means an older 'daddy' type that does/intends to have some sort of financial relationship with a younger partner. this can be in the form of an 'allowance' or regular payment to the younger for them to spend and/or live on. The range of relationships that can occur with a 'sugar daddy' is extensive. Some may be long distance, others may have the younger as a live in house boy. What the money is given in exchange for is personal to each couple, though whether explicitly or implied may include sex.
This is not to say that people dating sugar daddies do not necessarily enjoy the relationship, but merely that the key part of it is the giving of money by the older man to the younger. The term is often given negative connotations. It is most often used as an unfounded jibe/insult about people that actually aren't actually sugar daddies but may be older and have more money than their younger partner 'Have you seen his new partner? I bet he's playing sugar daddy to him'.
Coming from the Spanish colloquialism for 'daddy', it has a similar meaning to ‘daddy’ as well. Typically used in a more casual sense like ‘my man’ as a term of affection between gay partners and is most common in a Hispanic or Latin American community. ‘Hey Papi’.
Often used as a way of describing someone by a younger person. Usually describing someone from their 40s/50s upwards. In England this would typically be used as a semi-tongue-in-cheek way to refer to someone liking someone a fair bit older than the subject. ‘He is quite partial to an older man’.
Also used in the same tongue in cheek way ‘ He’s into a .... more mature man’. Being a more socially delicate way of saying someone is older, ‘mature’ may be used in the higher age brackets - possibly 40s, but more likely 50s and 60+s. Recently this has grown in popularity, leading to having its own category in pornography.
Now you’re entering the kinky world. Generally used by a more submissive (or ‘sub) person, directly to someone more dominant (or ‘dom’) that holds some power/dominance over them. Usually there is some sexual undertones to this that derive from fetishes and being told what to do ‘Yes, Sir’. Most commonly used in private, or more publicly at fetish gatherings, though not exclusively. In older younger relationships the stereotype has been popularised in pornography for the younger person to be more submissive, though this is not always the case. As a term that can be used by any two people, the ‘typical’ roles in more age normative relationships are less clear.
Taking it’s role from the animal kingdom - an Alpha Male - an Alpha likes to be seen as hyper masculine and dominant. Often exclusively a power top (exclusively a top and sometimes more aggressive in sex) they are typically very dominant, beefy and muscular in nature. This term isn't used very often and is falling out of fashion as concepts of masculinity are changing. Often people will self label themselves an 'Alpha' on hookup sites like Grindr and Scruff to indicate and reinforce their sexual role.
A term used to describe someone from boyfriend to fiance to husband ‘Let me introduce you to my partner Jeremy’. This can be used in both heterosexual and LGBTQ+ relationships. Some prefer to use this term as in situations where homosexuality is more frowned upon it can be a more safe way to refer to your your significant other without lying ‘My partner works in advertising’ vs ‘my husband/boyfriend works in advertising’. As gender definitions are becoming more blurred it is increasing in popularity due to the term not having a specific gender aligned to it.
Other terms include, nickname, actual name, boyfriend, asshole, compadre, partner in crime, depending on your relationship and the situation.
So now you know your different terms for older gay men. Please remember this is just a lighthearted and fun guide, but might help understand some of the different terms you've read/heard. Always read situations and call people as they wish to be called, just as I'm sure you'd like the same from others.
The Age Gap Guys x
N.B. The definitions given are a personal interpretation that has come from 5 years chatting to people online, dating a man in their 50s/60s for 6 years, talking to numerous people in age gap relationships and generally in the LGBTQ+ community. Other experiences may vary.