Sunday, May 30, 2021

White Privilege on the Gay Scene: (aka Things White Men Never Have To Worry About)

While I'm working on writing a book on racism in the gay community, I wanted to start to begin to have a conversation about listing a lot of things that people of color don't get from a gay community that largerly only affirms whiteness and holds Black people as less desirable.  Since this is a blog, it may not be a perfect explanation.  (I promised that it will be handled better in my forthcoming book: Grinding While Black...). But for now, it's a start.  

If you have thoughts to share, let me know on Instagram: @GrindrSurvivr 

So let's talk about white privilege and things that white men don't have to consider or be worried about when dating in the gay community.

1.  PEOPLE WILL HIT ON YOU AND BUY YOUR DRINKS. You can walk into virtually any gay bar or club (or certainly the overwhelming majority in the West – North America, Europe, Australia) and never have to worry about whether your skin color will be an issue for people.  AKA – people are more likely to buy you a drink, chat you up and hit on you if you’re white. 

        (A) To this day, I can count on one hand, the number of times men have offered to buy me drinks.  This seems to be a regular occurrence for my white friends.  

        (B) Often, white men give me strange looks when I go to clubs, as if to say that they don’t want me there or I’m taking up space.  

        (C) Alternatively, sometimes white people are nice to me, but only when I’m hanging out with a white guy that they fancy, so they try to use me as an intermediary to get to the white person they truly desire. 

        (D) I've noticed that many of my white friends get offered things, beyond drinks, that no one has EVER offered me.  This can include: free holidays to places, free theater tickets, invitations to exclusive parties etc etc.  The fact is, when people think you're attractive, they go out of their way to impress you.  When you're not deemed desirable for whatever reason, they don't.  (Again, that's not to say that every white person gets this A-list treatment.  But what I'm saying is hot white guys get it a whole lot more than hot black guys). 

(2) MORE DATING OPTIONS ONLINE! You can go onto any dating app and be absolutely assured that your skin color/race will not count against you with the majority of Grindr users.  Guys online message and interact with people they find attractive.  That’s just the nature of the beast.  And if white is deemed attractive and black/non-white is deemed unattractive, people of color have far fewer options online.  

        (A) While it is becoming less common, white men still make overtly racist statements on their Grindr profiles and in messages about not dating outside of their race.  They publicly sneer at the prospect of dating a person of color, and they don't care how this nastiness damages the self-esteem of others.  This is something that white people never have to endure.  (That's not to say white people never get rude messages, but is will rarely if ever be simply because of their skin color)  

        (B) One study, which I'll properly source in my book, found that a blank profile with the word "White" as their race classification, got FOUR TIMES as many messages as a handsome black guy with a profile picture.  

        (C) I've noticed that many white men often brag about how many guys they can get.  While this is not racist in and of itself, bragging about all your Grindr conqeuests to a person of color is the emotional equivalent of Paris Hilton telling people to "Stop being poor."  It's rude and tone deaf.  It's a not-so-subtle reminder that you get loads of advantages and privileges that I and many other people of color will never get.  

(3) WHITE MEN CAN AFFORD TO BE FLAKY (AND RUDE).  The more dating options a white man has, the more he can be casual, flaky, and rude to people, and gay men will tolerate it, because he’s hot and white, and he doesn't need to be mindful of other people's feelings.  That’s not to say that super-hot people of color can’t also be flaky or out of touch with reality due to their good looks.  But it is a lot rarer -- and society doesn't placate them or bend over backwards to affirm them BECAUSE of their race. It's in spite of their race usually. 

The more people who fancy you, the more you can be a slime ball and get away with it.  (And yes, I wrote a non-racial book on how we all should treat each other better, regardless of race.  So if you want to hear my views on that, go read it!  But we can’t talk about dating privilege and bad behavior online, without addressing racial issues and disparities). 

        (A) When a white man cancels a date on another white man, the white guy is reasonably assured that he can find other options, even if it’s last minute.  All he need do is open Grindr.  Since people of color have far fewer dating options, we literally can’t afford to be flaky.  And when a white man flakes out on us, we have fewer opportunities to rescue our evening.  

        (B) Also, when a white man cancels on a black man, the black man has to wonder whether his race played a factor.  

If the white guy simply isn’t keen to meet a person of color for a date, but he doesn’t want to confront his own internal racial dating preferences, he might casually flake on a black guy, but tell himself, “Well, I flaked on him, but it wasn’t because he was black.”  This may or may not be true.

But as a person of color, white people send you signals that you are not desired and you don’t deserve basic respect.  So because white people don’t want to confront their own racism, sometimes that can and will express itself as flakiness.

This is an extremely heavy emotional burden for us to carry.  And yes, white people can be flaked on, but they don't carry the same burden of constantly questioning whether the flakiness was due to racism.  

        (C) If you're white, here's a quick test.  Go through your phone and look at the last three people you flaked out on or brushed off.  And then look at the last three men that you chased, or re-arranged your schedule to meet.  And look to see if there is a racial disparity.  You may not like the answer...

(4) EASIER TO FIND COMMITTED RELATIONSHIPS! You can go on any date and be virtually assured that your race will not be a hinderance in the other person’s perception of you or his ability to connect with you - physically or mentally.  AKA – you don’t have to worry about your race working against you if he is looking for a boyfriend.  You don't have to go into a date wondering, “Will this guy be closed to a relationship with me, simply because of my skin color?”  You never go on a date and wonder – “Does he have the mindset of ‘I’d shag a black guy but never date one.’”  In fact, you can be confident that anyone you have met has likely been in committed relationship with another white person.  

        (A) Also, sometimes white people – feeling guilty that they might be “sexual racists” – will meet a person of color for coffee in order to pat themselves on the back.  “See. I’m not a racist.”  But they never had any intent of taking it further.  They might lie to themselves and say, "Oh, I would date a black man - so long as he's insanely hot, insanely smart, wealthy, etc etc" - aka, they'd date a black man who was perfect.  But even then, they don't hold other white man to the same impossibly high standards.  In short - WHITE MEN WILL IGNORE A "PERFECT" MAN OF COLOR TO CHASE ANOTHER MEDIOCRE WHITE MAN.  

        (B). White people are always held up in the gay community as the “ideal” that all others should strive for, particularly in matters of relationships.  This rarely happens for people of color.  So we're not seen as people's husband material.  WHITE PEOPLE PUT US IN POSITIONS WHERE WE CONTINUALLY HAVE TO PROVE OUR WORTH, AND I FIND IT EXHAUSTING.  They can be dumb and basic as f*ck, and yet, they have become so accustomed to everyone placating their bad behavior, they no longer see it as an issue.  
                    (i) And yes, much of this might be subconscious or an unconscious bias!  The white men who are flaky and rude are used to being flaky and rude to everyone, but people of color have a much harder time on the gay scene, and they never factor this in when deciding how to treat us.  But yes, everyone should treat everyone with a basic level of respect and decency - and I wrote a book about it!  GO BUY IT!  But I would assert, and most people of color that I've interacted, feel like white people are shittier to them then they are to other white people.  (Again, I'll have more evidence and research in my next book.  But maybe take it on faith for the next month or two). 

        (C) Also, I’ve found sometimes white men use my positive attributes against me.  I’m proud of the fact that I’ve got a Doctorate from Harvard and that I wrote a book about gay ethics.  And I've been on a few dates where people have described me as "uppidy" for lack of a better word.  

5.  YOU WON’T BE FETISHIZED!  You know that in most interactions people will not fetishize you simply because of your race.  While few people say it, many white men have the attitude of “I’d shag a black guy, but I’d never want to bring them home to my parents.”  

Few people have said this to my face, but it has happened.  However, my white friends tell me that other whites confess this to them quite regularly: that they enjoy occasionally shagging a black guy, but they would never seriously consider dating one.  

6.  LACK OF RACIAL AWARENESS WILL NOT PUNISHED! Your ignorance of racism will never be punished.  You can be as stupid, clueless and moronic as you want to be, and for the most part, the vast majority of white people – including many gay men, will not punish you for your ignorance.  You can then exhibit white fragility and racially gaslight people of color and literally tell yourself “He didn’t prove racism to me, so he must not have a point.”  

        (A) White people love to racial gaslight black people.  If I, as a Harvard lawyer, can't argue racism exists in a palpable fashion to the ignorant white person, the white guy can shrug it off and not face a consequence.  This is an extremely heavy burden to place on black people.  WE CONSTANTLY HAVE TO PROVE RACISM EXISTS TO STUPID WHITE PEOPLE.  AND IT'S EXHAUSTING!!!  
                    (i) It's exhausting, because I have to re-live my trauma constantly, lest this stupid white person won't agree that my REALITY is VALID.  Think about how draining that is.  It's FRUSTRATING to constantly be questioned about your reality.  
                    (ii) White people have the privilege of simply ignoring the truth.  They can ignore facts, testimony, and yet, even despite all the books that exist on critical race theory, they can shrug their shoulders and simply ignore the truth.  
                    (iii) IMAGINE, WHITE MEN, IF EVERYONE IN SOCIETY JUST PRETENDED HOMOPHOBIA DIDN'T EXIST!!!  You'd be furious.  (And yes, I'm aware that much of society did exactly this throughout most of history).  So imagine how frustrating it is for people of color.  

        (B) Also, as a black person, my ignorance of the other white person’s intentions can cause me very serious damage - both emotionally and even physically.  (See below).

7.  YOU NEVER HAVE TO FEAR PEOPLE WEAPONIZING THEIR WHITENESS! You can go into any social interaction and be confident that white people will not “weaponize their whiteness against you.”  This may be rare, but it does in deed happen.  Some white men are aware that people of color are deathly afraid of the police or other authority figures.  And so they prey on and scam people of color, knowing that if the person of color goes to the police, the police will not believe them.  Alternatively, they know that some people are so scared of the police, fearing for their safety, they won’t report the crime at all.   

        (A) Lest you think I'm being hyperbolic, let's talk about Ed Buck.  A rich white man in LA, who would intentionally target black gay men.  He would drug them to the point of death and then watch them die.  Black people tried to tell the local officials that Buck was only targeting black men, and no one did anything - until the SECOND BLACK MAN WAS MURDERED.  And even then, they only arrested Buck after a two black men were dead and a third man (whom Buck attempted to kill) came forward to accuse him!  Buck would target poor black men, because he knew that they wouldn't go to the police!  

        (B) This can happen in smaller ways, however.  White people have threatened me with statements like, “Piss me off, and I’ll get you banned from this club for life.”  While the white person who did this may not have intended to be racist, it’s a power play.  And it’s one that I as a black man will very ever rarely have.  

                    (i). Moreover, these types of incidents, if they escalated (and luckily for me, they never have) could involve the police, who might just shoot a black person first and ask questions later.  

So if you have all this privilege, what are you going to do about it?  Why be shitty to people of color who don’t have this privilege?  Why be a dick and flake out on them at the last second? 

Queer people of color have it way harder than you!  That’s not to say that all white people have it easy, but you have it easier than a black person in the same situation.  We endure abuse and sometimes acts of terror (and I’m not kidding) from white men.  It takes an extreme toll on our mental health.  And yes, sometimes many people of color simply withdraw from predominantly white gay culture in order to find spaces where they can be loved and affirmed, but this isn’t the reality for most queer people, particularly those that don’t live in cities with large enough ethnic populations to have black gay clubs and a black gay scene.  

So you should keep some of this in mind when you’re interacting with people of color.  Why make our lives harder than it already is?

I don't know when I'll finish my book on racism in the gay community, but if you'd like further reading, I can recommend the following book:  White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

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