Dear Gay White Men,
Before I begin, I want you to understand that I’m not calling all of you racist. I’ve never been one to throw that word around casually and even though I’m sure there are some that word would fit like a glove, I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you ― the cisgendered, white, gay men out there who hold no ill will towards minorities (especially black and brown ones) but somehow have never found themselves in bed with one. You’re good guys, I know this to be true. You mean well when it comes to race relations but, as a white man in... the world, you must admit, you have no clue what it means to be racially discriminated against. As a result, there are often times when you don’t recognize when your behavior towards people of color veers into problematic territory. As a black man within the gay community, I recognize that shit all the time and have a few points I’d like to discuss with you. I’m not here to judge you. There’s only one capital H-i-m and it’s not me. But you may want to take my words to heart if you’d like to live up to those progressive memes you share on Facebook all the time.
Let’s start with the epicenter of your problematic behaviors towards my kind: your dating app profile. I know it can be hard to find the right words while expressing your preferences when it comes to what you’re looking for in a partner. Whether you’re looking for “Mr. Right” or “Mr. Yea Daddy Right There” but I can’t help but notice that a lot of you get lost, like... really lost, when it comes to stating your preferences properly. To be clear, you’re allowed to describe the kind of guy you’re looking for and the things that turn you on but specifying the race of your desired partner is a line that is not to be crossed. It comes off as racist and that’s because it is.
I should point out that I’ve had this conversation with more than a couple of white gays in person and here is where the debate usually begins, so I’m going to assume that you’re rolling your eyes at me right about now. That’s fine and to make you feel more heard I’ll even repeat the most common point used to counter my argument ― “but people like what they like. Can’t change that.” I’ve heard that excuse, or some iteration of it, used many times. Almost as if it’s a magic phrase that just kind of ends the conversation and absolves you of your bullshit. I’ll put aside the fact that broadcasting your distaste for an entire race, or multiple races, in the year 2017 is really dumb in addition to being racist as fuck, and just challenge the reasoning here head on. Yes, people like what they like but sometimes the things people like are racist, like lawn jockeys or the current president of the United States. You can’t say you prefer one race of people as romantic partners, or anything really, to another because all of the people who belong to one race are not the same. No matter how you slice it, it’s racist.
But what if Black and Asian men choose to only date other Black and Asian men? Isn’t that racist too? No... and you tried it. Look, all men are created equal but all men are not valued equally, especially in this country. Every Black and Asian man who grew up on this planet grew up surrounded by positive images of whiteness and white men. Therefore, our desire to date within our own race, when we choose to, is not rooted in any assertion made by society that we’re better than anyone else. I know this is a lot to digest so I’ll just boil it down to this: if your preference for a partner supports an existing racial hierarchy which marginalizes minorities, then your preferences are racist. And yes, that includes you rice queens and chocolate chasers too. Fetishizing me is not a compliment, it’s propping up harmful sexual stereotypes and, it too, is racist.
As I’ve said before, I have had this conversation many times so I know what comes next. You’re saying to yourself “Damn! If I don’t go for men of color I’m racist. If I do, I’m racist.” Well... yes! If you’re making any of your dating decisions with a person’s race in mind, that’s racist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you have to find all Black and Asian men attractive. I sure as hell don’t. What I’m saying is that men of color are still men, and as such, we want the people making decisions about our desirability to make them based on who and what we are and that doesn’t begin and end with a few layers of melanin.
“Fine, I’m a horrible racist asshole. What do I do about it? I can’t re-program myself to find men of color more attractive,” some of you might be saying. Actually, you can. As you know, the brain is the largest sexual organ in your body and it’s capable of amazing growth. Think of it like learning a new language, better still, think of it like unlearning a racist one. In social psychology there is a theory called The Mere-Exposure Effect. Simply put, the more we are exposed to someone, the more attractive they become to us. See? There’s hope for you after all! You can decide how best to “expose” yourself however you want but please, for the good of us POC who have to share this community with you, get to work. As gay men of color we get more than enough discrimination from the rest of the world. We don’t need the friendly fire from you.