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It's Not You, It's Your Color

It's Not You, It's Your Color


It's Not You, It's Your Color

In the rainbow flag that supposedly represents the beautiful unifying colors of the LGBT community, the colors are separated for a reason. Just like the Mason-Dixon line, gay blacks and whites seem to share a boundary -- they do not see eye-to-eye, nor are they willing to date outside their race. Sound like the 1960s?

Well, in a modern twist on an old paradigm, peruse any social gay dating website and one will turn up loaded "preferential" or discriminatory profiles from black men stating "no white men," and white men in similar fashion stating "no black men."

It seems like the good ol' boys of yesteryear -- those of all types who don't take too kindly to interracial mixing -- are gay too. And, it's no secret. Silently, the community has allowed it to happen, and has just come to accept it. The proof is in the various occasions where you will not find black and white gay men marching defiantly together for LGBT rights -- simply check any local gay pride event, marriage equality rally, or any gathering tied to a hot-button issue. And rarely do we see black and white couples showing public displays of affection while taking a stroll together.

"I think it's part preference and part discrimination," says Nathan Scott, 37, a professional life coach in New York. "I think for some black men it goes back to slavery. Some men hold on to the past and can't see themselves with someone who treated our ancestors a certain way."

Scott admits he has previously dated white men, yet the experience took its toll when one former date categorized him by asking, "Why do you guys wear those things on your head?" He was referring to do-rags.

Already a minority, one would suspect gay men to be the last to impose color and culture as a barrier in finding a suitable mate. Outsiders may think it's absurd to think racism exists within the LGBT community, since the experience of discrimination is a common factor. It would be assumed everyone would be tolerant because they all have similar challenges or experiences with sexual identity.

Jon White, 32, a college administrator in New York, says some white men will altogether avoid dating black men because they are "fearful of not having the kind of cultural capital to negotiate those situations."

Some white people may avoid dating outside of their race for that reason. "They do not want to say the wrong thing," White says. "If you are raised in the black community then you understand that black is beautiful. I grew up in Flint, Mich., in an all-black community. Because of my background I had a different starting point than other white men. I am not uncomfortable dating men of various backgrounds."

Growing up, many black people are taught an emphasized sense of pride and self-assurance of loving oneself that their white counterparts are typically not. White men do not need validation in a world that already justifies their existence. Then again, some whites appreciate dark skin, but it seems too often that it is out of novelty or fetishism, rather than pure connection.

"There are white men who think that just because they are attracted to or sleep with black men, they can't be racist," says James Earl Hardy, 42, a writer in Atlanta and New York. "It's as if their ability to deep-throat black dick means they don't have a prejudice or bigoted bone in their body. They oftentimes feel the need to tell me they love black men. I always have to correct them. No, you love black meat. That is what you have reduced us to."

Darian Aaron, a 29-year-old writer and activist from Atlanta, says the media's shallow portrayal of black gay men is a key ingredient in the roots of the problem. "Black men are often obsessed and glorified by white men. They buy into the myths that black gay men are well-endowed and hypermasculine. White men tend to worship and seek after that and nothing else. I don't want to be anyone's object. We are smart, intelligent, and more than our penises."

The fascination with the black male physique can be pinpointed to centuries ago, when slaves were stripped nude in public view of white men and women. Slaveholders boasted of black men's penises, stating, "He is good for mating with negro slave women to produce virile offspring."

"Some of my white friends will hook up with someone black or Hispanic because it's like a trophy," says Jeff Brauer, 38, political science professor in Scranton, Penn. "They wouldn't date or have a relationship with them. They think black and Hispanic men are only interested in sex. It's a sexual thing, so they think they have nothing else in common with them."

With a new black president many feel as if we have overcome and we are a united nation. Racism is not as prevalent as it was some mere 40 years ago. "I find that the denial, delusion and pathology that some white, black, and men of color embrace who do date internationally, interculturally, inter-ethnically, however, foolishly believe that their relationship is special," says Hardy. "They feel it's a sign of progress, a testament to racial harmony, and that they are what Dr. King dreamed of. Just because you date and mate with every color of the rainbow does not mean we have overcome."

Gay men of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds will also argue they have been forced to integrate in a society that is traditionally seen as a "white" world. Some white gay men have an elitist stance in how they view and operate in the world because their cultural experiences are vastly different from other minority LGBT members.

"Black gay men have not been out of the closet or comfortable in their own skin as white gay men," says Lee Hayes, 35, a Washington, D.C.-based writer. "Black men are not out to the same degree as white gay men. We have a need to blend into society instead of standing out. To date outside our race makes that particularly difficult."

And still, the LGBT community has made tremendous strides. Travel across the country to any major metropolitan city and you will find thriving LGBT communities. Yet, one may be shocked to discover primarily white faces in places such as Chelsea in New York City; Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.; Midtown in Atlanta; and West Hollywood in Los Angeles.

Even during pride season, where celebrations across the country surpass the thousands in attendance, minority faces are scarcely sprinkled in a sea of white men. Black men do not see themselves in the grand scheme of the collective LGBT community. Often isolated and neglected, gay African-Americans created their own pride events to speak to the social issues that affect them directly.

"I don't understand it at all. For them to say there is no inclusion of them is a misnomer," says Phil Mannino, 30, operations manager for New York Pride. "We try to make sure there is some inclusion of everyone represented at our pride. I never understood why they were repeating it." Mannino admitted New York's pride partnered one year with the black pride, but efforts to continue the partnership have failed. "I don't know if they feel they are not represented enough in the regular pride. But, because of the diversity of our community, everyone's part is limited in what we can do."

White men thus do not see how they are insensitive or unwilling to build racial relations. With more economic wealth, strong LGBT communities, and businesses and resources such as Gay Men's Health Crisis and LGBT community centers that primarily attract white men and are run by whites, blacks and other racial groups still have to fit into the world according to white gay men.

"It's not that I don't want to be around other races," says Aaron. "It's just I am more comfortable in my environment. I think that is human nature."

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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