Why I’m Done Blacksplaining Racism To Gay White Men
I’m not having this conversation again. It always seems to go the same way.
Uh-uh. Ooh-ooh. Look out. Here it comes… again. Yup, here we go again. I’m sitting across from another gay white male, and he’s telling me how good I have it.
“You know, black guys really are the luckiest gay guys,” Marcelo says. “They’re the only ones who can walk into any bar, any club, and get pretty much any guy they want.”
Um, oh… what? I can’t believe my ears. Marcelo is from Spain, a country where white-on-black racism might not be as pronounced as it is in much of the English-speaking world. But can he really be so ignorant about what black men — black people — go through on a daily basis in a world where white is considered supreme? Despite what gay guys on Grindr and Scruff seem to think, life is not a pick-up joint. It’s not all about scoring. Just because you can get laid doesn’t mean all of life’s problems just vanish.
“You’re really simplifying the black experience,” I tell him. “But even if we’re talking strictly sex, no, black men are not the luckiest gays in the world. And no, we cannot have anyone we want.”
I proceed to relive my first 15 years as an out of the closet gay black man in New York City. It’s been 11 years since I left the U.S., but I’ve been told it’s same old, same old, which is hardly surprising given the current political climate. When I was living, working, and going out in New York City, I was basically invisible. The majority of the men I encountered in bars and clubs— white, black, Asian, whatever — were looking to hook up with white guys.
My best friend was tall, blue-eyed, gorgeous, and white. Guys practically ran me over to get to him. If I ever got any attention, it was usually from so-called chocolate queens, white guys who only dated black men. Their attraction to me was less about me than it was about them.
When I started travelling to Europe, things started changing. For the first time in my life, I received attention from an assortment of men of various colors and age groups. I couldn’t have anyone I wanted, but I no longer felt like everyone was looking past me.
In 2006, I moved to Buenos Aires, and it was like I had fallen through the looking glass. Everywhere I went, drop dead gorgeous men were pursuing me. It didn’t take me long to realize that they were driven more by curiosity than by pure lust.
“Is it true what they say about black men?” I heard it so many times I used it as the title of my first book.
It’s been similar for me in most of the places where I’ve lived since then: Australia, Thailand, even in South Africa. Despite the significant black population in Cape Town, the gay scene there is so segregated that many white South Africans have never tasted chocolate — to use an overused food metaphor that actually makes my skin crawl.
“So yes, in a sense, I don’t have any trouble scoring outside of the United States,” I explain to Marcelo after giving him some background. “If you only care about sex, I suppose you can call that ‘lucky.’
“But it’s not like a lot of these guys are going to be interested in me for anything besides my presumed big black cock. Most of them would never date me.”
Is a woman who inspires catcalls while walking past construction sites lucky because men are paying attention to her? Should women consider themselves fortunate when a lot of guys want them solely for sex? Should I withdraw my previous post and start being grateful when white guys tell me how much they love black men? Ooh, lucky me. I’ll remember to jump for joy the next time I read, “I’m dying to see your big beautiful black cock,” because, well, that’s all I have to offer.
Before I start receiving angry comments from gay black men telling me to stop chasing/dating white men, and to stick with my own kind, this is not about my personal chasing/dating habits. This is about the unsolicited attention I receive on the other side of the world, the unsolicited attention that allegedly makes black men the luckiest gays.
If I were living in cities with a large pool of black men to date and vowed not to dip outside of that pool, my experiences with white gay men wouldn’t change. Most of them — not all of them — would still approach me for all of the same reasons.
“So you see, Marcelo, all is not what it seems. It’s not about luck. It’s just about curiosity — and lust.”
Marcelo makes a point so many before him have made about the way many Asian men approach white guys. It’s a status thing, not about being with someone who actually gives you butterflies. I’ve seen it myself, so I can’t argue with that. In Thailand, white represents status. Local gays who chase white men often do so because they think it elevates them socially — and sometimes financially.
For the most part, I have found, the ones who approach me are just curious and horny. I offer no elevated status. They’re dying to test ride a black guy, but that doesn’t mean they’d ever drive him home. So even when gay white men are the victims of stereotyping and fetishism, white privilege still lessens the blow.
Marcelo is surprised by my harsh revelations, but I can tell he still thinks I should consider myself lucky. At least I can get laid anytime I want to.
That’s when I decide I’m done. I’m not having this conversation again. It always seems to go the same way. The white guy, though he means well, just doesn’t want to face the black reality. I’m not sure if he wants to sugarcoat the black experience to make himself feel better, or if he wants to sugarcoat the motivation of non-black gay men to make himself feel less guilty.
I’ve had this conversation countless times, and it never fails to frustrate me. Most white men are able to go through life not having to worry about being loved or loathed because of their skin color, so some of them just can’t see how lust can be a double-edged sword. And the obsession with sex in the Grindr age seems to make so many of us oblivious to everything that doesn’t involve sex.
“You’re so lucky to be black,” an Israeli guy in Jordan told me four years ago, Like so many before and after him, he considered me blessed, assuming that my skin color makes getting laid a breeze. What’s racism?
“I’m not lucky to be black,” I said. “But I’m lucky to be me.”
He was so blinded by my black, though, that he couldn’t see the light. Nearly a half decade of debating and blacksplaining later, I have. And I’ve finally figured out that light doesn’t have to be mine to shine.