It’s Just A Preference…
Oppression is everywhere, it happens in every culture and in every community. This is why those who are oppressed are very empathetic and never oppress those in their own community, right? Not right. In my experiences as a gay male, I’ve noticed the LGBT community, or gay men, in particular, have many issues relating to body positivity and are constantly looking to improve their self-image.
Oppression and discrimination are ever-evolving concepts that take different shapes or forms, depending on the historical context and the community. What this means is that oppression and discrimination have always been around. As the world evolves, we as humans typically become more tolerant, and welcoming, to each other’s differences. With that being said., hatred still exists and people will always find a way to use their insecurities to bring others down.
Does being gay, lesbian, and bisexual automatically mean someone is immune to being an oppressor?
This is a silly question in my opinion. It’s similar to asking “Can black people be racist?” Anyone can be an asshole. In fact, I’ve noticed that the oppression within the LGBT community itself is quite alarming. To put this into perspective, intersectionality plays a huge role in the oppression among the gay community. With that being said, white gay men feel as though they are on the top of that totem pole. In some sense, they are. By that I mean that masculine gay men are on top so if you’re feminine, you’re already at a downfall. After that, men of color are just an afterthought for the white gay community, or even worse they’re seen as a “fetish” or “taboo.” A lot of this overt racism takes place on dating apps, specifically the app Grindr. Never heard of it? Click here to learn about what Grindr is, according to them.
To sum it up, however, it’s a dating/hook up app for gay men. I had Grindr from when I was 16 to about age 18 or 19. When first using the app, the overt racism wasn’t racism to me. I had agreed with everybody else that canceling out a whole entire race is just a personal preference. It wasn’t until I watched a live stream from RuPaul’s Drag Race legend Katya Zamolodchikova.
You might know her from season 7 and All-Stars 2 of Drag Race. She posted a live stream where she focused on racism in the gay community.
One of the things she says that has stuck out to me since seeing this video is when she says “The entire black population in the world is completely desexualized to you” and it got me thinking about how these types of thoughts aren’t preferences, they’re actually a part of the systemic racism that is rooted into our brains from years and years of oppression. Going off of that, feminine gay men have trouble finding partners on these apps as well. Most of this is due to the misogynistic culture that we’re all brought up in. All of this is due to the systemic way society tries to cater to the white man. It also goes along with the idea that oppression is ever evolving.
The Harsh Reality
A lot of people fail to believe that this sort of over racism actually **does** exist, I’ve compiled a list of racist messages I found when searching the web for evidence of this problem. These are in no particular order and are real conversations.
**WARNING, THE LANGUAGE IN THESE SCREENSHOTS MAY BE DISTURBING AND EVEN TRIGGERING TO SOME**
Digging deeper into this issue, Samantha Allen’s Article focuses on the research that was done relating to this. She ultimately concludes “‘No blacks’ Is Not a Sexual Preference, It’s Racism.”
She writes “After putting these two data sets together, the trend was clear: “Sexual racism… is closely associated with generic racist attitudes, which challenges the idea of racial attraction as solely a matter of personal preference.””
She continues with ““While it may feel like our desires are our own, in reality, they are influenced heavily by social norms,” explained Callander. “For me, the findings of this study are a reminder that even though society and individuals may actively reject racism, racial prejudices are increasingly subtle and they can find their way into even the most private and personal corners of our lives.””
Does Media Contribute?
This question is tricky. I definitely think the media contributes to the root of the problem – racism. Many outlets fail to point out the overt racism facing the world today. In fact, when broadcasting criminal news between a white person and a person of color, the white person will almost always have their accomplishments listed while the person of color will almost always have their past criminal history listed, further criminalizing the person of color. Does this *directly* contribute? No, absolutely not. However, what it does is furthers the notion that people of color are born to be criminals which actively increases the reluctance to engage in matters with people of color. It definitely engages the heteronormative narrative that is a huge part of society.
I also rarely see media stories that call out the racism and sexism throughout the gay culture, it’s always articles posted on blogs or websites, despite the countless results that come up with a simple “Racism on Grindr” web search. (Give it a try, you’ll find some scary stuff out there) So maybe this is a negative contribution. Maybe if it was called out more, people would be less overt with their racism.
What does it mean to live as an LGBT member or ally?
Obviously, you must live your truth and be happy however you were born. Society has so many standards that are unobtainable so there’s no sense in trying to conform to the heteronormative beauty standards. It’s ultimately impossible and will cause you a great deal of pain. With that being said, racism can root deep and cause a lot of self-esteem issues with you and your natural skin. There’s no simple answer for racism, especially in our community. You would think those who are ostracized would find a way to love and accept others no matter what but alas, that’s not how the world works, unfortunately. Some ways we can come together is by actively calling out the racism. Your lack of sexual interest in a particular race is not a preference, it is blatant and overt sexual racism. Call out this racism and let the oppressor know it’s not right and that it’s just downright disrespectful. As an ally, continue to call out injustices among our community. In a world where oppression is so rampant, it’s important to have allies who are on our side helping put a stop to this sort of stuff.