When does a sexual preference become an act of racism?
It’s disconcerting for any gay guy to find that the seemingly magical world of rainbows is as normal as the heterosexual one—meaning that the same bigots and ignoramuses also populate Gay Land.
Take, for example, the issue highlighted in a great article by fab Magazine. Alex Rowlson talks about the tendencies of Grindr (a gay social app for smartphones that could be utilized for hookups) users in stating “No Asians,” “No Blacks,” “No whatever” in their profiles, and how this is reversing what should be the liberating culture of gays. Rowlson calls for all gays to be more inclusive of others, and to do so, change both the language and mentality of our preferences to end the sexual segregation that currently dominates gay culture.
Interestingly, this article has stirred up a blog war among the porn writers at The Sword and Gawker’s Fleshbot (this is relatively safe for work). While The Sword’s Zach October declares the article as an instance of overblown political correctness, Fleshbot’s Cedric Dewittison condemns October for maintaining the view that ultimately continues to support prejudiced behavior. October states that all gay men have a right to declare their sexual preferences, and that the refusal of a certain race for hookups does not imply that one is a racist. Dewittison refutes this argument on the basis that discriminatory language of all forms foster prejudice, and further claims the importance of inclusive language.
From the point of view as a gay of Asian ethnicity and a supposed “victim” of stereotyping, I feel that both make valid arguments.
When I used to go on Grindr with my boyfriend, I remember seeing some of the ignorant messages that circulated through various profiles. I’ve had my fair share of rejections, simply because of my ethnicity, but I realized that I wouldn’t want to associate with the sort of people who tended to judge on outer appearances anyway.
Of course, as The Sword’s October so pointedly states, we cannot judge the gay community based on the douchebags that populate the world, especially in outlets that have a big focus on one-night stands. After all, we know what kind of bad name promiscuous gays bring to the community. I think, however, that the use of such discriminatory language does have an impact on others. Here, Fleshbot’s Dewittison makes a valid point about the importance in how we state our preferences, despite its perceived silliness. Even if you are not of a minority racial group, statements that exclude people still hurts. A phrase like “No whatever” is one step away from saying “No you,” because of one’s appearance or genetic makeup, and nobody likes being judged prematurely.
Fleshbot’s Dewittison, however, fails to mention that any racial statement—negative or positive— creates connotations that are discriminatory. Even phrases like “I love Asian boys” and “I want Latino men” is racist in that it automatically associates certain qualities in their racial stereotypes. As an Asian guy, I’m often assumed to be submissive and physically weak, because of my ethnicity. Please, for the sake of my sanity, can we, for once, refrain from thinking that all Asians are alike? Instead of generalizing people to a stereotype, think about what qualities that constitute the attraction/revulsion is related to the race of a person.
Another point that has been missing from the discussion is the subject of racism within minorities. I sensed from all three writers the generalization that minorities like Asians, blacks, latinos, etc. are always the victims from racial attacks from white guys. This frustrates me to no end. Come on, give us Asians some respect— we can have our own jerks too! I don’t want to get into a whole discussion about the complicated issue of discrimination within the gay Asian community, but just know that there are Asians that can be just as racist.
All in all, the discussion brings up the important issue of sexual preferences and racism. I agree that all gays should be more inclusive in their opinions of what attracts them in guys and avoid the pitfalls of prejudice that so frequently discriminates against gays. I don’t mean to say that everyone should date someone of a different race— just that the world would be a better place if we all kept an open mind and acknowledge the long-term consequences of the things we casually say.
If we gays cannot even tolerate the diversity of voices in our own community, how can we fight the social injustices that we face by others?