By Monika MHz & Gula, PQ Monthly
I’m afraid to ask this question, but here goes: I’m a white gay man, and when it comes down to it I’m only attracted to other white men. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching about this, and I don’t think my sexual aesthetic reflects any other implications about anyone else’s race or ethnicity; I also really don’t think that any degree of “consciousness-raising” or shaming will change my innate sense of what I find attractive. Is there a way for people like me to talk about our sexual tastes in regards to ethnicity and race without being racist? Is it better to us to be up-front about only being attracted to people of our own race, or should it be kept secret (even while we’re still acting upon it)? Finally, could it be that I’m just wrong in my estimate, and that only being attracted to people of one’s own race is a racist act? Help me think this through!
Thanks, Liberal Guilt in Laurelhurst
I hear this a lot. It’s just a subjective preference. You aren’t intentionally making a quality judgment and you aren’t trying to say men of color are objectively less attractive than their white counterparts. You just believe that this is your subjective sexual preference, just like you may like a guy with dark hair, or who is in a band. The people who are making quality judgments — the ones who are going around saying that people of color are ugly and white people are superior — are definitely pulling something racist and you recognize that. But you aren’t organizing a White Man March anytime soon, and don’t see yourself logging onto Stormfront in the future, so your preferences are just that, right?
People tell me they don’t find people of size, people with disabilities, or trans women attractive as often as I pee [that’s a joke for you trans women]. The temptation to compare it to gay-ness or lesbianning is huge as well. It’s mainstream to believe all aspects of sexuality are inborn. You can’t pray the gay away, so it’s tempting for us to say it seems reasonable you can’t pray away other “preferences” like finding all trans women unattractive, or in your case finding all men of color unattractive.
What does a person of color look like, anyway? Plenty of light skinned people of color get subjectively read as white by some people. You could “accidentally” flirt with a man of color and not even realize it and find yourselves both disgusted.
I can’t stop you from only dating white men. I can’t stop you from talking about how unattractive you find all men of color. I’ve got no desire to “shame” you, because I got better things to do. But what we all have got to understand is that no one can divorce our attractions — or in your case, unattractions — from societal pressures and norms. You asked me if there was a way you could talk about your attractions, and I think most people of color would say that society already tells people and reinforces the idea that white people are the ideal. You talking about your attractions would be nothing out of the ordinary from the perspective of people of color. Be open. Scream it from the rooftops of your Grindr profile. At the least it lets those reasonable people for whom this is a dealbreaker for friendship or love screen against it.
Normally this is where I’d be ending on a joke. Or maybe I’d talk about how boring and bland like a saltine dating must be to, “never race mix.” But, I think these kinds of questions just make me sad.
Wow! I never think about this when choosing a partner or fling. I just go with how I feel about the person I’m about to kick it with. My past is sprinkled with all types lovers. It amazes me when I am attracted to someone that is far from my “usual type.” Where does that come from! Pheromones maybe? I do have certain things that “turn me on and off” and I do look for those things in my men. I think we all have that.
So your question had me thinking. Where do our sexy turn-ons and arousal come from? So I searched the ever-knowledgeable internet on this subject, I read a few articles and they all pretty much said the same thing.
Sexual attraction is shaped consciously by our mind through experience, preference, and social conditioning, but sexual magnetism is driven by chemical secretions generated from the frontal lobe cortex which controls sexual arousal and sexuality. Therefore sexual racism cannot exist. There is only sexual discernment, which we are all entitled to. Sexual discernment is evident when our preferences (like “I like waxed asses”) are motivated by sexual practices (like “I like waxed arses because I love to rim”). There is a rational thought process that links physical attraction with certain sex acts.
Racism only happens when sexual attraction is aroused through mis-held beliefs and stereotypes (like “I only have sex with Asian/hispanic men because they have smooth asses and I love to rim.” Or “I don’t have sex with — insert ethnic group here — because I’m a bottom boy and so are they.”) This isn’t sexual racism, it’s just racism. Period. At the end of the day, nobody is going to have sex with people they are not attracted to. Unless it’s your job.
Now how you talk about your sexual tastes is another subject. How often does this come up? Spewing what you are attracted to over and over in public is tacky. (Unless you are talking about me.) Take a minute and put yourself in any ethnic group and listen to this statement. “I only date white people.” It might be true, but it’s harsh. You’re basically saying everyone else is ugly. I never suggest that anyone lies or feels like they have to keep secrets, but I do have to say “keep it cute” — and maybe to yourself. Listen. Know what your words mean and how they affect others. You can say, “I find sun bleached hairs on tan lined feet super sexy or I love swimming in a man’s blue green eyes,” without putting everyone else.
So white pasty guys are your thing—well, OK. Maybe we are making this a bigger issue than it really is. You are just leaving more babes for me!