Yesterday, I was cruisin’ for a bruisin’ (you know where ;) using Grindr and came upon a picture of a young black guy who had posted a smiling picture of himself with some interesting stats to accompany the profile: “Age 20, 5″10, 150 lbs… white”. Upon seeing this I burst out laughing at the sheer hilarity of it. To give it some context, your profile on the gay, hookup, iPhone app Grindr has a default of no ethnicity so one must choose to post what race they are and second, the “slipped finger” excuse doesn’t apply here as the “black” response has 5 different options between it and “white”. Realizing this choice was more than likely made on purpose I reasoned it was okay to post a screen shot of this scene to my facebook for my friends to “like” and laugh at. Just as I was about to post it however, I wondered: “Is it racist to laugh at this?” I know me, and I know I’m not a racist person but am- like the rest of the world- sensitive to the issue and always try to think before I speak and act on issues of race, religion and ethnicity. In the end, I of course posted the pic and got a bunch of fun and non-hateful comments from my friends regarding it. But, the whole situation caused me to think about race and dating on the internet.
All dating sites- to my knowledge- give the user the option to post their ethnicity, from White to Black to Asian to Mixed/Other and everything in between. Personally, I always answer. As I type that, I can hear a few of my fellow Homorazzi writers rolling their eyes saying: “Of course you do, you’re white!” Admittedly, being a part of what most would consider the “majority race” on dating sites makes it “easier” to click on the caucasion option but where the real rub lies is in choosing to write someone or not based upon their answer to this question. Being as PC as possible and naming this “racial preference”, the term still leaves a dubious taste in my Liberal and sensitive mouth… is racial preference just plain racism? Short answer in my mind is no, but I know there’s more than a couple out there who would vehemently disagree with me.
Many sites (not including Grindr) allow for a “custom search” that lets you screen out guys based on certain limits you assign. Ranging from a height minimum to maximum; a weight category; a physical build type; age; and, race, these limits allow for a streamlined man-hunt that most feel is time-saving and useful as we fly through 100s and 1000s of online cruisers. Not only a search option, many (MANY) men even post “looking for asian boys” or “prefer white or latino” or “black for black only”, and personally, I think that’s their right to do so. I know, reading those blurbs aloud sounds racist but first let’s define that word: racism is reported to be “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.” Furthermore, it is often defined as: “hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.” While the former description sounds a little dated and master/slave geared, the latter does seem to argue against the propriety of having a racial preference for what type of man you’re looking for. So, are men who prefer/search for men of a certain race racist??
I still say no. If you enjoyed and would date all races but had a special thing for lean latino boys, does that extra crush of yours make you racist? If you are an Asian boy and have that “boi” gene in you that has you searching out bigger, older white men does that make you a racist? If you think mixed raced boys are particularly sexy then does that make you especially open-minded or again, a racist? While many would weigh their answer to each question with special thought and care, I personally blanket-answer “Nope!” to all of em’! I’m quite a black or white (forgive the pun) kind of guy when it comes to most issues and unless you think people are genetically/socially/anyway unequal because of their race then I’ll stamp you with a big ol’ R for racist, but being more turned on by a particular set of men to me is totally acceptable and pretty much exactly how we are made to cruise/date/love.
Personally, I search for men older than myself, much more built than I am and nearby proximity-wise… do any of those requirements paint me a bigot in anyway? I am very lean and like that for myself, but want a man with muscles. Am I a self-loathing twink? Does my love of gym-boys reveal something messed deep in my psyche from early childhood? Did I watch Kevin Sorbo a little too often on “Hercules” growing up? Well, yes to that last one but otherwise I think I’m not quite ready to be committed to the nut house. Having had this argument more than a couple times with predominantly non-caucasion friends who explain: “You can’t understand, you’re white!”, there is nonetheless a recent insurgence of profile by white males who announce their desire to date all races and that those who don’t “Are F-ing racists in denial!”. While I defend their right to say whatever they wish (within the bounds of decency and the rules of the site they’re posting on), I still disagree with their position.
Often this issue comes down to two things: what turns you on and what do you know. A lot of the time men opt for what is similar (similar education, religion, size and race): is this a matter of feeling comfortable with the familiar or hating and bigoting the unknown? I love meeting a guy and finding out we grew up in the same small city or have travelled to the same remote town in Spain: there’s an instant bond that is created that not only opens the date up to me but that relaxes me a little in those oh-so-nerve racking early stages. Then, there’s the “what gets ya goin’?” factor that I believe is at the root of this issue for those who would claim this preference to be one of rudeness and unjust dating practices. I can’t tell you the amount of times I heard the words: “[Insert race here] guys just do it for me!” Most often however, this statement is whispered or spoken while carefully eyeing the room for outliers who don’t match the inserted race preference. One would never hush the words: “I like redheads” (well, maybe one would… come on, gingers? Haha kidding!), but we would if the issue concerned race. Why isn’t it wrong to have a thing for- hell even a limitation to brown-eyed guys? I have never understood the attraction of eyes but have heard a litany of times that it is one of the most important factors for some when choosing a potential beau. I think that’s just fine.
While denouncing a race, stereotyping them negatively or believing them to be less-than is absolutely not okay and intolerant, I argue that if particular races have pronounced effects on your libido then go with it. Sure, take a look at why that feeling is there: is it because you’re looking for your Taye Diggs, or is it because you think all Asians are going to be bad in bed? Do you choose your friends/employees/etc based on their race or does this matter only play a role in what makes the erection erect? I see relevant differences in all these juxtaposed thought patterns.
I know this polemic and my position in it is a bit of a sensitive one for many out there but I wanted to hear how people felt about it. Setting aside the poor-me notion of “white guilt” and the disproportionate abundance of caucasion models in ads and commercials, I do accept that being among the “majority group” (even though funnily enough, in the world at large I am not and even in my city I am technically a minority as a white male), it is easier to say I don’t mind when people don’t date me cause “I’m white”. I likely get turned down a LOT less than others do due to my blond hair n’ blue eyes and I can understand how frustrating it would be to not be even given a chance because the guy I poked doesn’t like my ancestry. But, I’ve been turned down countless times because I’m not big enough or short enough etc and claiming bigoted practices doesn’t even come to mind. Again, maybe I just have it too easy to see it from the outside.
Finally, this is by no means a “gay only” topic- though being already a “minority” group I feel it’s particularly charged for our community- straights and bis alike deal with this exact issue and I welcome their valued input on this one as well! I’d love to hear what everyone thinks about this dating/cruising practice… I know most of us hide our clicked “search for” ethnicity boxes on our Manhunt profile when friends come over and want to borrow the laptop, but I say stand up for what you do or else maybe there really is something wrong with why you have that preference.