As part of the I’m From Driftwood series chronicling LGBTQ stories from all walks of life, Nelson Moses Lassiter shares this poignant story living at the crossroads of gay life and racial prejudice.
Here it is in his words:
When I came to terms with my sexuality, it took a very long time. I used to just debate with myself back and forth and I used to, I was actually angry that I was gay and I was angry at God for making me gay, there were just so many things that were going through my mind. So when I came to terms with everything, I wanted to go out and just meet guys and make friends and kind of find my place in the world, knowing that the world that I came from just wasn’t the one for me, it wasn’t accepting. Eventually I started meeting people and making friends and there was this one time I was actually just chatting with this one guy and the conversation was going great and there was definitely a really cool connection there, there were a lot of similarities and I said, “Oh, do you want to grab a drink some time?”
And he goes, “You’re really sweet, you’re really nice, but I don’t date black guys.”
He was just like, “Well, they’re just not my type.”
I was like, “Well what does that mean, you don’t like me because I’m black? That’s weird.”
And he was like, “It’s okay, though, I have a friend who’s into black guys.”
And I was like, “What does that mean? What does it mean to be ‘into’ black guys?”
I met this guy and, his friend, and I was like, “So what is it about black guys that you like?”
He said, “I like the way that they look and they way they talk, the way they walk, the way they wear their pants down low.”
And I was like, none of this has anything to do with an actual black person, this is, these are stereotypes and these are just preconceived notions and things that you hear. It wasn’t that he liked black guys, he was into the idea or into, it was more like an object of affection or a fetish more than actually liking the person. It was at that moment when I realized, “Wow, this is another thing.” So what is this world that I’m slowly becoming a part of because it was the complete opposite of everything I was expecting.
On the flip side, what made things even crazier was that my black friends were upset with me because I was dating someone that wasn’t black. I had this one black friend who was still in the closet, he was actually rather upset at the fact that I was dating a white guy. We were hanging out and I was telling him about this guy and he was like, “Why are you dating white people? You know that they don’t like us.”
I was like, “What do you mean they don’t like us? Because I’m dating someone who likes me a lot, so what are you getting at?”
And he goes, “What, do you think you’re too good for your own race?”
He basically said that I was a self-hater and I didn’t like black people or I didn’t like who I was and I wanted to be someone else because of the fact that I wasn’t dating my own race.
These experiences happened less within like half a year. It was like all these new things that were coming into sight at such a fast pace in such a short time, I was just like, “We need a lot of work.” We can’t be seen as a group of people that want to have a unified message of equality and no discrimination if we ourselves are dividing ourselves through whatever methods, whether someone is feminine or someone is masculine or someone is black or someone is white. If we continue to create these own divisions within our own community, we are no better than the ones discriminating against us. And it’s extremely important because we have to change the way that we think. We have to change our own minds within our own community, open our own minds before we can expect other people to open their minds to us.
Here’s the video of Nelson sharing his story: