Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bullying of a Different Color

I just read an article about racism within the gay community that opened the box of a lot of ugly memories.

I remember my twink days well.  At one point, I was having a fling with another, fellow twink who was white.  It was, well...we were young.  Then, he met this other guy who was slightly older than myself.  And, also white.  They immediately hit it off and started to "fling", themselves.  Then came the cruising of the clubs.  Then came the phone conversation:  "Well, David and I were talking, and we both decided that we're too good to waste ourselves on a black guy."  Needless to say, I'll never forget that phone call.  Or, the deep hurt I felt from being told I wasn't good enough because of my skin tone.

I remember, also from my twink days, and after being blown off by my former partner because I was black and, in his own words, unworthy, going to a gay club downtown.  It was a very popular club at the time and was packed to the gills.  Shortly after arriving, I saw him:  my Mr. Right!  Six-feet, lean, blond and blue.  With a smile that wouldn't quit.  My first thought was "I'm taking him home tonight".  I made strong eye contact with him while he was, um, working, and we exchanged pleasantries.  "Win!!!", I thought.  I thought wrong.  At the end of the day, he went home with a man roughly twice my age, at least a half-foot shorter but easily 75-100 lbs heavier. (close your eyes and envision THAT!)  Oh, did I say that he was also white?  So, once again, the reinforcement was there:  I'm inferior because of my skin-tone.

Fast forward to San Francisco, 1986.  I'm no longer a twink, but I'm still young, and still a lean, very handsome (so I was told), athletic man.  Black man.  I had a lot of acquaintances in the Polk Gulch area with whom I socialized with regularly.  One night, five of us had been out just enjoying the evening:  couple of beers, lots of laughs, fun stuff.  One suggested that we go back to his place and have an orgy.  I couldn't believe my ears!!!!  Everyone was in agreement.  So, off we merrily go.  His apartment was only a few blocks away, on Sutter.  Upon entering his apartment, he turned to me and said "Sorry, you're not invited.  This is for white guys, only."  He may as well have pulled out a .45 and shot me in between the eyes.  I cannot even explain how hurt I was, or how low I felt upon hearing that, once again, my skin-tone had rendered me unworthy.(I will say, though, that one of the guys strongly objected to the host's exhibition of racist ignorance, told the host so, and we had our own fun for the evening.  Still, the damage had been done.)

In this article, they speak of racism within the gay community as if it's a new trend.  As you have just read, it's nowhere near a new thing.  It's a large reason why I disengaged myself from "the gay community" long ago.  Those three instances alone proved to me, beyond a doubt, that I didn't have a place within the community.  Well, I guess I did as long as I kept myself segregated.  To my disadvantage, in this case, I just happened to be born "color-blind".  Even in today's world, it still exists.  Maybe, because of the far-reaching instantaneousness of the Internet, even to a greater extent.  I've checked out several of the online dating sites and, lo and behold, the ones I've found attractive have profiles that clearly states that I'm not in their realm of attraction.  Even with those who list their wider diversity, "black" is not one of their suitable preferences.

I found it quite telling, this segment taken from the article:
"After having a few drinks with my friend, I walk home through the garment district in midtown Manhattan. I see a gay male couple walking hand in hand down the street... Their relaxed and happy faces turn frightened when they see me, and they immediately cease holding hands and separate. On this late night in an unfamiliar area of the city, I am not seen as a member of the LGBT community. I am black. I am male. I am a threat."
That's a snapshot of the real world.

So, what does this have to do with the anti-bullying, stop-teen-suicide campaign that I've immersed myself in?  Do you think that all gay teens are white?  Well, the obvious answer is "of course not".  Like the symbol of our pride, they are every color of the rainbow, so to speak.  So, what happens when young, black Tony falls in love with white Michael only to have Michael tell him "I'm too good to waste myself on a black guy"?  Will that be the straw to break the proverbial camel's back?  Wouldn't those words be a form of bullying?  If your answer is yes to either, the battle is even tougher than first realized.  But, to further complicate matters, how exactly does one address this issue?  Do we teach the black and minority LGBT teens that they've got yet another battle they'll have to fight, and this foe will come from within the ranks of the LGBT community?  Well, that will go over well.  Do we tell they the black and minority LGBT teen that (s)he may as well forget about finding a partner outside of their race because, in the LGBT community, white is king?  What exactly is the answer?  We're begging, no demanding!!!, that the world start treating us, the LGBT community, as equals.  As well it should!  Yet, we don't even treat our own as equals. 

The last piece of the article was, I think, my favorite.  It speaks volumes.
"We all have 'preferences' and that's certainly our right," he says. "But we don't have a right to make people feel inferior because they look different from us— any more than straight people have a right to make us feel inferior because of who we choose to love. Not in this day and age. Not after all we've gone through. Not anymore."
 We have a lot of work to do.

25 comments:

  1. Racism in any form is hurtful and wrong, no matter the circumstances or situation. From a straight white girl who has may gay non-white friends male and female(all ethnicity), I will fully support whomever they choose to love. Gaystraightblackwhitehispanicchinesewhatever, you will be accepted and loved in my eyes. Keep strong.

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  2. this is really sad that ppl still have these racial thoughts ,it is like they are ingrained in their dna

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  3. Unfortunately , racism is alive and sick but very much alive in too many peoples' minds. Everyone still needs to Fight loud and hard Against racism in all communities!!!

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  4. and yet, it's interesting that you think you were better than the other guy Mr. Right went home with, just because you were taller and thinner than him. we all have prejudices.

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  5. Gaystraightblackwhitehispanicchinesewhatever,is my new catch phrase. There is no place in this world for racism or hate, but unfortunately it just won't go away. For some unfathomable reason, neither will the people who expound it.

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  6. This is a very complicated issue. I apologize for what happened to you, and agree that racism within the lgbt community is unacceptable. Unfortunately I believe it is going to get worse before it gets better. Right now in Maryland (where I live) African American religious leaders are at the forefront of the opposition to a gay marriage bill underway in the state house. Their action is feeding the divide between the gay and black communities, and I would be lying if I said it did not impact how I feel. I do not want to be racist, yet these angry thoughts I do not want keep happening. All of this said, I have to agree with tripfl, your concern about being younger, taller, and thinner than the guy who your paramour went home with makes you seem shallow, vain, and a bit narcissistic, not exactly winning qualities regardless of race or sexual orientation.

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    1. Sean, I was, at that time, 19-20 years old. There were a lot of other ingredients that went into that stew. I will say, though, point taken. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Racism in the gay community has always confused me. I suppose that it helps to explain first that my family is Apache and my mother is a Lesbian; I honestly don't think she's EVER dated anyone of our race. I grew up going to Pride events and learning about what mom called our Family; I can remember being a terribly confused and upset five year old, having racism explained to me because I saw it in action at a Pride event (also the first time I heard THAT N word). I just didn't understand it; if everyone there was Family how could they possibly hate anyone for something else they couldn't control? Twenty six years later I still don't understand racism or homophobia and still find myself terribly confused when I see either in action. Also, I'm so in love with Gaystraightblackwhitehispanicchinesewhatever. Seriously. If Anon comes to my town I'm taking her for coffee lol

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  8. Why is the shorter/heavier white guy YOU took home somehow less valuable to you? or than you? This article isnt about your race...its not even about you not being able to get white guys...its about you cant get the white guys YOU think are hot. If there is a racist in the article it appears to be you. Not once in the story to you mention being attracted to a black guy but complain that people dont pick you based on your skin color. FYI I dont think Ive ever heard of someone accidently being invited to a orgy. I dont like apples but I dont bitch about people that dont eat them either.

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  9. I am sorry that this has happened to you. No one deserves this kind of treatment. It was uncalled for to say that to you. Just because your black doesn't mean anything. I guess people still haven't matured for the better. Also just because someone is shorter and a little fatter doesn't make them less attractive. Personaly i find any guy or girl beautiful no matter their race sex or weight. The only thing that matters is personality and if they treat you well and you treat them with the same respect. I hope someday we will be a little open minded in the future. So we can accept people no matter what.

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    1. I guess I missed my mark on the piece about the gay club. There is NOTHING wrong with being shorter, or fatter, or even older! I understand that. I was 19-20 years old at the time. Life looks a little different through 20-year-old eyes than it does through 54-year-old eyes.

      For the record, a dozen or so years ago, I was in love with someone not much taller than 5'2", and definitely not much to look at if I were looking for surface beauty. It didn't matter to me. What mattered most was that he had a heart of pure gold, a wonderful personality, and an overabundance of love in his heart to share and share and share. Isn't that what love is all about?

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    2. I understand your pain and it is very wrong for someone to treat you that way. However, I don't feel that it was "racist" per se. If someone chooses not to be with someone because they are of another race does not mean they are racist.

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  10. I got what you meant when you wrote it Ron, and took the point - we all think things like that occasionally, and we grow out of it. I think it's harsh of commenters to keep harping on that one sentence after it's already been covered by the first person to comment on it. It's done guys, leave it. The point is well made, there and elsewhere, that race is an issue in and out of the LGBT community, loooong after a time when it shouldn't be. I'm horrified at the blatant racism. "White guys only?" Perlease. One could argue that it was their loss, but that doesn't remove the hurt. All bullying is obscene.

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  11. I am a mixed race bisexual male of white, Native American, and Asian decent (though the last two are minute enough that I physically look like I'm completely white European, blonde hair, blue eyes and all), over the past summer with another mixed race guy (who although a mix of Euopean, Asian, and African-American, physically looks distinctly like an Aftrican-American guy) we are both currently in the so-called "Twink" ages of our livPes, well towards the end of the summer, his ex (whom was a full black male), got jelous that he had moved on to me and started playing the role of the little devil on his shoulder and got him to believe that he didn't belong with me because (to him) I was white. Now that I have started college, the ex has since coaxed my now ex into quitting high school (even though he was in his last year) and decide to get his GED on a later date. My ex and I still talk from time to time (as friends), but the danger has been done, he's my ex is back with the little devil on his shoulder and isn't doing very well in life currently, and I'm forced to be a bystander. A sad story to remember this is. :(

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  12. *but the DAMAGE has been done (I'm correcting a typo in my earlier comment)

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  13. As a diverse culture, the LGBTI community has so many sub cultures and so much hate within it's own ranks - Be it colour, or preference - Bears, Drag Queens, Transvestites, Twinks, Muscle Mary's...the list goes on. How can we as a group ever hope to find equality when we deny it to our own community? Time to come together for our own cause and stop buying into the Straight culture of hate.

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  14. hey, you were young and describing how these events hurt you. not trying to be prejudiced, even if you were at that time, when we are young we ARE our world. i am a 6ft hetero female and have been this tall since 6th grade, the things said to me then , unfortunately, helped to shape who i am as a 57 year old female. my brain KNOWS, that they were wrong, but my child brain was hurt. please watch what ya'll say to young people. they may admire you and take your word as fact, and we all know how that can end.

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  15. I believe most of you missed the point entirely. Ron shared his own experiences only to give you all a background story in which to relate the issues he is addressing. Racism and prejudices do exist in todays youth as well as they did in his youth. He felt "cast out" not only bc of his sexuality but also his race. There needs to be an outlet for the youth of today who feel the same as Ron did as a young man/teenager, that is the issue at hand, is it not?

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  16. Another bias not yet mentioned here is when you are a gay guy (of any racial/ethnic background) who was born with a disability. While I cannot state that I have your precise experience, I can empathize with the concern as the consideration of your skin color is relative also to the physical perfection bias in the community. Words cannot express the feelings generated when someone levels the "Look, I really like you, but I did not anticipate the extent of your disability" statement at you. I too was raised "color-blind" by a wonderful set of parents who were liberal enough to openly accept and support me when I came out of the closet. Without that, my own community shunning me because of a physical imperfection would have been completely debilitating.

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  17. I loved your post. I am a chubby white gay man, and there are plenty of men not into me for being overweight. There are some who purposely made me feel inferior and others who simply said, "You're not my type, but you're a nice person." I'm not sexually attracted to certain men of color, but I'd hang with them in a heartbeat. I think that's the difference.

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  18. I remember, as a child, my mother pulling me closer when a black man walked by. This was in the sixties. To this day, I have to fight that early training by taking a second look and seeing a person, not a color. But, even as I try to fight that early training, a see young mother's of today pulling their children closer when a black man walks by. I hear you talking about an outlet for young, gay, black males and that's needed but the other ones we need to reach are those young mothers and those young men and teach them there is another way to think.

    I can't help but throw a "mom" remark here.. Any man who is insensitive enough to say "I don't want to waste myself on a black man" is someone you don't want to waste YOURSELF on. What a jerk... white or black.

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  19. This article has nothing to do with love. Or racism really. Most of the people you mention on here are people you were trying to "hook up" with. Not have a lasting relationship. And how is it racism when a group of white males hang out with you and have drinks with you but don't want to have a sexual encounter with you? If they were racist, they wouldn't even talk to you in a bar. I do admit that the way they said it could have been a little nicer than "We're too good for you." But I have been told my black gay guys that they don't want to have sex with me because I am white. But we are all friends. It's just a matter of preference.

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