The following information is aimed at confronting racist behaviour and speech in gay men, particularly those of us who use online personal dating services.
Sexual behaviour is no more justified a place for racial prejudice than any other area of life. We should stop making racist statements in essentially public forums like Personal Dating and Profile sites. If our sexual preferences have an ethnic or racial bias, we should challenge ourselves to confront those limits and, if we can, exceed them. We believe that narrow-mindedness, hurtful speech and exclusionism have no place in the gay community.
What is Racism?
Racism is fundamentally a set of judgements made about a person, not based on how you perceive the person, but based on generalisations you already believe about all people who share their ethnic background or their country of origin.
Racism is unfair, unethical and damaging to both those who do it and those who are its victims. It enforces the myth that we are separate and distinct instead of exclaiming the truth that we are all in this together.
Racism is sadly alive and well in how we talk about our sexual and romantic preferences, and sometimes in how we act on them. Racism in the sexual and romantic parts of our lives is called "sexual racism".
Racism seems to be more acceptable here because we have fought so many battles over our right to our sexual preferences, many men hold their sexual preferences as sacred - even if they contradict other beliefs they may have. This is confusing because some people who abhor racism in general life still behave in a racist way in their sex life.
Stop Racist Speech
|Saying "No blacks" or "No Asians" or "No GWMs" in my profile is just letting people know what I want. It's being honest and it saves them from having to face rejection.
It's not honest to say you'll never consider an asian or black or latino or anglo man. It's racially prejudiced and it seriously damages the self-esteem of the people it's aimed at.
Many men believe that they can only "get off" with guys from one ethnic group or that they can never, ever have some "1-on-1 fun" with guys who come from one ethnic group.
Personal profile services encourage people to be specific, so guys write things like "No Fats, Fems or GAMs" or "Not into hairy guys or GBMs, no offence" or "No Asians, sorry!" in their profile. We write these things to help increase the number of contacts we want and decrease the number that we don't.
What we don't think about is how it feels for other gay men to read them. Imagine how it feels to read ad after ad that excludes you based solely on your race. Imagine for a moment, that you were in a minority in the country you were born in and kept reading apparently endless profiles saying you weren't desirable. It just might ruin your day. Do you really want to help make other gay men feel bad about themselves?
There's an alternative to this negative kind of speech that makes other gay people feel rejected and diminished. If we simply make positive, inclusive statements in our profiles, tell people what we do like, and deal politely with people who don't turn us on, we've made a positive change.
Try talking about the characteristics you ARE into, not about the one's you are not.
Some examples (what they actually turn into depends on what the author is actually looking for, which often isn't very explicit from the negative version):
|"Not into hairy guys or GBMs, no offence"
||"Really prefer guys with smooth, pale skin"
|"No whites, sorry!"
||"More comfortable with other black guys"
|"No Fats, Fems or Asians"
"Looking for slim, fit, masculine guys. Usually prefer men of [caucasian, latino, black] background"
GayNZ.com Profile Personals
GayNZ.com provides a "Preferred Enthnicity" option in it's Profile Personals. This in itself is sexual racism. However, we have to start somewhere and it is provided to help members specify preferences in a more positive way - who you are interested in, rather than the negative who you are not.
Use this field option as an alternate to including negative sexually racist statements in the text of your Profile. At least it's a small step in the right direction.
Challenge Racist Behaviour
If something doesn't turn us on, there's not much we can do is there? In fact, for most of us our tastes change over time. Usually, they get broader, sometimes they get narrower. Can you honestly say that you like the same guys now that you did when you were 17 years old? What can you attribute that difference to, other than experience?
Sometimes, we think we're not into one type of guy, but then we meet that one guy that blows our preconceptions out of the water. Unless, we protect ourselves from ever meeting him. If we never really have opportunities to meet, get to know and get to appreciate guys with different kinds of bodies, different looks, different faces, how will we ever know if we could have found them sexy.
If you don't consider yourself a racist, but you can't recall ever having chatted up, perhaps an Asian man, or slept with, perhaps an Indian, or got to know, maybe a European, then how come you don't consider yourself a racist? We believe we should all challenge racial bias wherever we find it... even if it's in our own behaviour.
It's racially prejudiced to rule out someone for a job based on their race or to keep them out of a bar or group. Ruling out someone as a partner based on their race is just as prejudiced.
Stop Sexual Racism
Many men consider that sexual preference simply can't, by definition, be racist. We think that's wrong. Prejudice is prejudice. Racism diminishes us, weakens our community and, let's face it, means that everyone gets laid less and has fewer chances to fall in love. That sucks.
"I found it hard to embrace my gayness because so much of my energy was spent trying, in turn, to deny, erase, accept and defend my ethnic identity, which, after all, was the visible one, whereas gayness could be hidden. The double stress of having to deal with external and internalized racism, as well as external and internalized heterosexism, was a major factor in my development as a self-accepting, openly gay man".
"Being a person of colour makes me an outsider in mainstream queer communities. I haven't been able to find a queer community that is understanding of my experience as a person of colour…I can feel as much alienated at a gay club as at a straight club…".