The Queer Issue
In the summer of 2003, MTV's Making the Video premiered Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love." I was a tenderhearted 20-year-old working at Denny's at the time, and a few of my coworkers gathered together at a friend's house to be mesmerized by Bey's first solo venture. Afterward, my coworkers and I were squealing over the videoand how beautiful our baby queen turned out to be. A few minutes into the discussion, a coworker's boyfriend stuck his thick neck into the convo and uttered the following words out loud: "I guess she's pretty, but I'm not attracted to black girls."
Now, I had never heard anyone dismiss the attraction of an entire race prior to this, and I sure as hot fuck didn't expect Beyoncé to be the catalyst. I snapped at my coworker's boyfriend and told him never to speak out of pocket like that again.
However, there was quite a bit of hypocrisy to the soapbox stand I was taking. As a young, openly gay black man, all my sexual experiences at that point in my life had been with white men. Somewhere deep down, I suspected that I was only attracted to white men. Once I heard meatmouth's opinion on black women, I knew I had to evolve my rudimentary notions of what I could be sexually attracted to.
The root of my issue was that I didn't find myself attractive. A heaping portion of my insecurities involved my race. These insecurities then became amplified by the universally accepted superficiality of gay men. A lot of ideals within the gay male community do nothing but separate us by race, age, masculinity, and body type. We categorize ourselves, and there ends up being marginalized groups within a marginalized group.
In the years after that janky comment about Beyoncé, I did everything in my power to accept that I look great in the skin I was born in, and I made double sure to have some enjoyable sex with every possible flavor I could dip my stick into. I've had relations with a Brazilian man with a speech impediment that made him sound like he had an Irish accent, a heavyset Somali who only performed oral sex if I had a condom on, a middle-aged Native American drag queen, a petite Japanese power bottom with a nine-inch penis, et cetera, et cetera. This plethora of gentlemen helped shake the constraints of my earlier mind-set by being kind lovers who gave me the confidence to believe I was as beautiful as they were. And now, a decade later, my sex life looks like a United Colors of Benetton ad, and rarely do physical attributes play a role in my continued search for a partner.
This new outlook has especially helped me navigate the current social-media era of gay male apps like Grindr.
As much fun as you can have on Grindr, I've lost count of the number of times I've come across a profile specifically pointing out what race someone is not attracted to, some with extra- defensive phrases like "it's just a preference." It's gotten to the point where I recently deleted the app from my phone entirely, to preserve my fantasy that the current fleet of gay men are more enlightened than that coworker's meatmouth boyfriend was a decade ago. Granted, as I mentioned, I've had my hang-ups in the past, but I would never have the audacity to announce such a hurtful hang-up in a public location where a myriad of decent human beings, including young men just entering the gay community, can stumble across it. As a matter of fact, I strongly believe that never mentioning your racial sexual preference would have zero effect on your sex life. Also, Grindr provides only 120 characters for a profile. It's a super-garbage move to use that little space to make declarations that shut out other users and not even mention what you can provide as a human person other than a slightly blurry photo of your fucking torso.
For the sake of "research," I downloaded the app again so I could interview all the guys I came across who deemed it necessary to publically advertise their racial preference on their profiles. I put together a safe and nonjudgmental opening question:
Hi, my name is Solomon, and I'm putting together an article about racial sexual preference. Do you have a moment to answer a few questions about your own racial sexual preference?
Then I started scanning through the app. After finding more than a hundred local men who made some kind of statement about race, I received only 15 responses. All of which were requests to see a picture of my penis. Dick pic requests aside, I did notice that almost a quarter of the men I messaged immediately updated their profiles to remove any mention of racial preference after receiving my polite inquiry.
I'm slightly disappointed that I didn't get a chance to properly interview anyone, but I'm glad that some Grindr users took my question to heart and altered their profile. I don't want anyone to force themselves into interracial relations, but using dismissive phrasing is unnecessary. Homosexuality is a natural occurrence, but racial sexual preference is usually based on social stigmas that develop into a skin-color fetish. The same can also apply to the rampant ageism, desperate need to prove masculinity, and gym body obsession in our community. Don't even get me started on the ongoing neglect of our trans brothers and sisters.
Being a gay man means being a deviation from the status quo, so it's ridiculous that we would apply restrictive media ideals upon each other. That ain't trill, nothing trill about it, that's less trill than Gwyneth Paltrow calling Beyoncé to ask what twerking is. Overly focusing on superficial physical qualities can lead to a frustrating life of unresolved personal insecurities. Honestly, I only get one penis in this lifetime, and it deserves to go on a shameless world tour.
Solomon Georgio is a standup comedian and a trill bitch. Follow him on Twitter @solomongeorgio.