01 October 2010

Modeling Sexual Racism

The Dumb Dora Award for
Modeling Sexual Racism Goes to
Gay Times

DUMB DORA

Recently, ex-NBA player John Amaechi, who now resides in the United Kingdom, fell victim to racial profiling when he tried to enter a local Gay bar. Here are the details, as reported 13 September on the UK Gay news website PinkPaper.com:

Acclaimed basketball star John Amaechi is claiming he was refused entry to a Gay bar on Manchester's Canal Street last weekend because he's Black. According to reports, the 40-year-old sportsman, who is a Manchester Pride patron and currently lives in the city, had attempted to enter a bar in the Gay village when he was denied entry by door staff. He claims he was told he was "too big, too Black and trouble", something the bar denies. Conversely, his (not Black) friends were allowed inside. When Amaechi questioned the decision, the doorman said it was a “private members' bar." He then allegedly claimed that the New York Times best-selling author had been flagged up as "trouble" on the Gay village's shared security radio network. A spokesperson for the bar later told Amaechi's representative: "Your group was stopped from entering the venue on Friday night (because) a message was received over the NiteNet radio system (a system where several venues work together within the village, where they announce any issues they have with any customers), that your group had been argumentative and aggressive to another venue’s door staff . . ."

The owners of Taurus and VIA, the only other Canal Street venues which Amaechi says he attended that evening, have claimed they don’t operate a radio network with the bar in question. Writing on Amaechi's Facebook page, a spokesperson for VIA stated: "At no point did I hear any messages about John or his party and I was on the system from 7:30 PM to 3:00 AM." Speaking to
PinkPaper.com, Amaechi claimed that the bar's policy is “. . . the exact opposite of what the Gay village and the LGBT community should be: Inclusive and respectful."

How many stories like this one have I heard over the last 30 years or so? Almost as many as I've read in the last 30 years or so; that's (at least) how long exposés of Gay racism have been appearing in LGBT publications. I saw the latest in an issue of another British periodical, Gay Times, a couple of weeks ago. (Sorry that I can't quote it directly, but there's no leeway in my unemployment check budget for buying magazines! I read the article hurriedly while browsing at a newstand.) Several Gay men of Black and Asian background told horror stories about looking for love in all the wrong places; unfortunately, those places always seemed to be bars frequented by White Britons. Their presence was not appreciated, and they were made to know it in a very rude manner.

They might as well have been talking about bars in the United States; Lord knows, I've had similar bad experiences here. Not constantly, but often enough to make bad memories linger: Once in Boston, where I used to live, a White bar patron became so enraged at seeing me enter his favorite watering hole, he called me a you-know-what and flung a drink in my face. I'd never laid eyes on the man before in my life; I was so astonished at his behavior, I forgot to get angry! Nobody rebuked the dude; nobody let on that they saw what happened; the other (White) patrons all acted like I wasn't even in the room. A few years later, in a Kansas City western bar, the shoulder I got from the palefaced assemblage was so icy cold, the bartender (also palefaced) took pity and offered to buy me a drink. It was a nice gesture on his part, but not enough to make me want to stay for very long. I've since sworn off Gay bars; I'm not really a barfly, so it wasn't that hard to do.

Gay racism doesn't just manifest itself in bars, though, and White men aren't the only ones who display it. I've seldom felt more hurt than I did the day an Indian man I was interested in told me, in no uncertain terms, that he only dated White guys. Futhermore, friendship with a Black man was also out of the question! Then there was the Puerto Rican hottie who didn't mind a one-night stand with me but wasn't interested in going further because he'd "gotten tired of Black boyfriends." And what African-American man doesn't know one or more "brothers" whose finicky libidos only respond to blues eyes, blond hair and alabaster complexions? Believe me, sexual racism comes in all colors.

I find that most Gay men take this kind of bigotry in stride. That certainly seems to have been true of the author of the aforementioned Gay Times piece. After documenting the horror stories, he came to the conclusion that nothing much could be done about racist dating patterns. He felt it was natural for most people to choose their lovers based on skin color. I don't remember the exact language he used, but it was something very close to this:

If it were racist to prefer a boyfriend of a certain color, then it would be sexist to prefer a man to a woman.

Ye Gods, what utter stupidity! That's the kind of dumbass editorializing that makes me want to rip a Gay rag in half! Of course, acting on that impulse was out of the question; I lacked the money to pay for the Gay rag, and God forbid I should leave the impression that I was, you know, "big, Black, and trouble" . . .

It's getting to the point where IQ tests should be required of anybody who wants to write for the Gay media! Likening sexual orientation to sexual racism is idiotic in the extreme; it's a comparison of apples to prunes! Same-gender desire is inborn. Racial prejudice results from environmental factors; it has to be taught, carefully taught, as Rodgers and Hammerstein said in their song of the same title from the musical South Pacific:

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.*

There's no such thing as an inborn preference for bedmates of a specific ethnic/racial group; nobody will ever convince me otherwise. As for the mentally retarded suggestion that a Gay man's lack of carnal interest in women amounts to sexism, that's too nutty an idea to even waste time talking about!

Mind you, people do tend to be attracted to certain "types". Even though far too many men seem to prefer the Aryan template, attraction to certain physical attributes isn't necessarily racist. Neither is attraction to certain cultural traits. For example, I know quite a few people who seek life companions of their same ethnic background. They believe the relationship bond will be stronger with shared cultural ties. That may not end up being true, but it's a reasonable expectation. Marriage is about more than sex, after all. However . . .

. . . there's a point where these physical and/or cultural preferences become more than just preferences. That's the point at which a Gay White man says: "I will only date other White men." Or a Black, Asian, Native-American or Latino man declares similar racial exclusivity. Often, such declarations are chased by disparaging remarks about some ethnic group or other. When the possibility of becoming half of a racially-diverse couple gets ruled out completely, and with such strong animus, a booty-specific Master Race theory is in effect! This is sexual racism in its rawest, most repugnant form.

The other side of that counterfeit coin is the man who never dates within his own ethnic group. He'll tell you he only likes Black guys, Latin guys, Asian guys, etcetera. Typically, this kind of exclusivity comes in a package deal with quaint ideas about how men of a given skin color are as personalities, how they perform in bed, and even how they should look and sound. A potential lover whose accent isn't exotic enough, whose skin isn't dark enough, whose lips aren't full enough, or whose eyes aren't sufficiently almond-shaped may not make the grade; he's got to embody the desired stereotype! Gay Men who treat race in this way, as if it were a favorite ice cream flavor, tend to get slapped with rude labels: "Dinge Queens", "Rice Queens", "Snow Queens" and so forth. Such names are ignorant and racist (not to mention homophobic), but the dating habits they describe are no less so.

A man who expresses romantic interest in you is just one man! He's not coming to you as a representative for his entire ethnic group. He isn't there to give you an excuse to display your racial intolerance. Nor is he there to become your latest fetish.

The next time someone who isn't your "type" approaches you, why not take a chance and try something new? Be civil to him! Unless the dude's got halitosis, head lice, body odor, the manners of a gorilla and/or the fashion sense of Lady Gaga at her tackiest, he's at least worth giving the time of day! Get to know the boy a little. He probably isn't your soul mate, but he might end up becoming a treasured friend.

Then again, he just might be your soul mate. He could be that Knight in Shining Armor you've been waiting for, except that his armor gleams with a red or yellow or brown tint. Maybe you've been expecting Brad Pitt, and not paying attention when Naveen Andrews shows up instead. Or vice-versa! You'll never know until you remove those signs that say "For Whites Only" or "For Colored Only" from your heart.

ACTS 10: 9-15
. . . (The Apostle) Peter went up to the roof to pray. He became hungry, and wanted something to eat, and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the Heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying: "Get up, Peter! Kill and eat." But Peter said: "By no means, Lord! For I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean." The voice said to him again, a second time: "What God has made clean, you must not call profane."

There's nothing profane about falling in love with a Haitian man. A Malaysian boyfriend's saffron skin will not give you cooties. A Mexican lover will not cause the value of your property to diminish; and a Slavic husband will not grow vampire fangs and suck your blood! A skin color or heritage that's different from your own is not valid grounds for ruling out intimacy with another human being. Standards of beauty that are racially-based are biases, not standards, and there's nothing beautiful about them. Everybody's bigoted to some extent, though, so Gay men who practice sexual racism need not feel ashamed. They just need to recognize a serious character flaw for what it is and strive to correct it.

We've all got to realize that seeing people as symbols instead of individuals is a form of blindness. I pity the person who can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of a rose but ignores the elegance of a tulip; for that person, walking through a flower garden is a waste of time. Here's to all the romantic visionaries who dared to date "outside the race" and found true love in an unexpected place.

*"You've Got To Be Carefully Taught", music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, copyright 1949 Williamson Music Company (ASCAP).

Next: Our maiden Fool's Hall of Fame inductee!