“No Blacks.” “No Asians.” “No Hispanics.” “Whites only.”
Is it racist? Or is it a preference?
If you ask Joel Simkhai, the millionaire CEO of Grindr, he’ll tell you it’s preference. In a December 2016 interview with Broadly, he said, “To say, ‘I’m only into black guys’—is that a bad thing? I think we should allow you to say that, because that’s your preference.”
But ask anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of the “No (insert any racial minority)” argument and they’ll likely tell you otherwise.
In a new op-ed for his college newspaper, Gregory Ragaza says “gay people can be pretty damn racist.” Which is surprising, he says, given the bigotry they themselves have had to suffer over the years.
The biggest problem about this issue is that they are either oblivious to their racism or in denial of it. In both cases, they tend to hide behind the guise of it’s a matter of “preference” and not racism. Putting phrases like “no Blacks, no Asians, only White” on your dating profile are pretty bold statements that mirror the signs that were posted in front of stores during the segregation era America once lived through.
And he’s right. Does anyone honestly look at these Jim Crow era photographs today and think they’re anything but racist:
“It’s completely understandable to not be attracted to individual guys,” Ragaza says, but “saying a certain ethnicity, essentially excluding a whole group of people, isn’t your type is drastically different from picking particular details from individuals.”
As a gay man of color living in the Bay Area, which is arguably one of the most diverse and accepting cities in the U.S. I, too, have experienced my fair share of racism within the gay community, not only on dating apps but also at bars and nightclubs. Personally, it feels like a double whammy. Not only do we deal with homophobia but we get the added racism as a cherry on top of being part of the “white” culture.
And he’s not alone in feeling this way. Earlier this year, psychotherapist Matt Dempsey sat down with several of his non-white gay friends to talk about their personal experiences with prejudice in the gay community:
“While rejection will always sting,” Ragaza writes in his op-ed, “it feels like you’re being stabbed when being rejected due to your ethnicity, race, or the color of your skin.”
He concludes: “Only the individual who feels the need to announce to the world that they don’t date Asians, Blacks or Latinos can answer the mystery that’s deep within their shallow hearts. Let’s just hope they learn to open their minds and realize the difference between preference and racism.”
We would add, if you’re still unwilling to realize that difference, perhaps you could at least consider the effect publicly stating your animus, er, “lack of preference” towards certain groups of people has on others?
Kindness goes a long way.
Photo credits: Shutterstock, U.S. Library of Congress