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Racism in the Gay Community

Timothy Kincaid

January 15th, 2009

The discussion about ethnic-community based disparities in voting patterns on Proposition 8 has led to the question: can we talk about homophobia in ethnic communities without discussing racism in the gay community?

I would think not.

Refusing to be self-reflective and address our own community’s flaws will only encourage and justify a negative impression. And because race-based homophobia and gay-based racism feed each other, it seems wise to address them jointly.

As a white guy, I am not qualified to make grand declaration about racism in the community. And I’m not even certain what kind of race-based distinctions can be categorized as racist or harmful.

But I do know that racism exists and that it expresses itself in both blatant and subtle ways.

An example of obvious racism is the common presumption that Asian gay men are sexually submissive. And the fetishism of black men in art and literature is unquestionably dehumanizing and far too common. These are on top of the plain old-fashioned blatant bigotry and biases that are part of mainstream society.

But other examples are less obvious. Is it racist to only be attracted to persons of a particular race? Is the notion that ethnic minorities should automatically find commonality with sexual minorities itself a racist presumption of privilege? And what about gay magazines that seem to illustrate articles solely with images of white men or women?

And there are other issues that are difficult to address. When one is a minority within a minority, it can be empowering (even life saving) to find others like yourself. But do race-specific bars — and even separate pride events — in and of themselves serve to segregate and disempower ethic groups? And what should my response be when a black friend uses a Shirley Q. Liquor phrase?

And just how prevalent is racism in the community? Is it more, less or the same as in the society around us?

Obviously, one example of bias and discrimination based on race is one too many. But just how pervasive is ethnic bigotry in the gay community? And what should, or can, we do?

Unfortunately, I don’t have answers for any of these questions. All I know is that no one is benefited by thinking of gay racism as someone else’s issue or by congratulating ourselves that the gay community is “better” than society at large.

And perhaps it’s time to start the conversation and then sit back, listen, and learn.

Comments

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a. mcewen
January 15th, 2009 | LINK

Excellent post, Tim.

I hate the fact that when something like this comes up, comparison games are played. It doesn’t matter which is more prevalent (homophobia in the black community or racism in the lgbt community) because as a black gay man, I can tell you that both are damaging to the success of both communities.

a. mcewen
January 15th, 2009 | LINK

One more thing on pride events – Sometimes people miss the point when it comes to black pride events. They are not meant to be segregated or separated. Everyone is invited to join and have fun. Black pride events are a way to zero in on a problem (i.e. trying to push lgbts of color visibility and pride) and solve it.

Down here in South Carolina, our black pride group has the support of all of the area lgbt organizations and I can safely say that the black prides we have held leads to more visibility of lgbts of color, more information about general lgbt organizations to people who may not have received it and more attendance and participation in general pride events by lgbts of color.

John
January 15th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t think it’s racist to only be attracted to a particular race. If that were the case then that would make both gay and straight people sexist.

not so sure
January 15th, 2009 | LINK

Really? You’re going to go there? I lived in D.C. in the 1980′s. Try writing about Homophobia in the African-American community. Try writing about racism in the African-American community. And when you’re done with that, try writing about the nepotism of the African-American community.

Those are REAL issues.

Tavdy
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Is it racist to only be attracted to persons of a particular race?

It seems to me that demanding that a gay man/lesbian be attracted to men/women who don’t turn them on is a lot like the Religious Right demanding that they be attracted to the opposite sex. In both cases other people are dictating who the person should be attracted to in order to satisfy their own personal beliefs or opinions – their belief or opinion is made more important than the person.

a. mcewen
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t think its racist to be attracted to persons of a particular race.

But I would hope that our comments here don’t dwell solely on that ONE segment of this issue.

Pender
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

If you think gays have more of a problem with racism than straights, PROVE IT. Post the statistics! I’ve yet to see a shred of evidence — and no, anecdotes are not evidence.

Without evidence, this is the same kind of stupid fair-and-balanced that Fox News does: “Here’s a guy who believes in science; so for balance, here’s a guy who believes that the earth is 6,000 years old.”

We know that the black community is disproportionately anti-gay. I have yet to see a single piece of credible evidence that the gay community is disproportionately anti-black. Black homophobia is an uncomfortable topic, but that isn’t a problem that is solved by pretending that gays are guilty too when there’s no evidence that we are.

SHOW ME THE MONEY.

Yeek
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

“Is it racist to only be attracted to persons of a particular race?”

This is one of those “can’t win” questions. On sex sites we see people with strong racial preferences – ‘black guys a ++’ or ‘prefer Asian, Latino’ but the accusation of racism only gets thrown out there if the poster states he is interested in ‘white guys only.’

If you’re turned on by people of a different race, you’ve fetishized and dehumanized them. If you’re only attracted by people of the same race, you’re a bigot. The only viable option seems to be no preference at all, which is not that common. When it comes to what turns us on, we have very little control – how many of us wished we could be attracted to women when we were still in the closet? I say leave this one alone. We’re not going to change what makes our dicks hard, right or wrong.

On the issue of the African-American community, I see a lot of bullshit on both sides. I see a lot of white gay men dismissing the problem of racism in the gay community. I see a lot of gay African-Americans making excuses for their community and attacking gay racism far more ardently than black homophobia. Everyone is very eager to point out that the other side is worse, when in reality both are fucked up. Don’t bother asking anyone to fix themselves, because they’ll just resent you and accuse you of being a [insert insult here]. Fix what you know is wrong with yourself, and never expect help from anyone else. That’s how you’ll make progress.

Jim Burroway
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Pender,

You keep asking for proof that the gay community is “disproportionately anti-black.” Nobody, as far as I can tell is saying that. You are fighting a strawman that no one has raised. Please show me where someone in this forum has made that extraordinary claim.

Until you can, I suggest you come down from your high horse.

Pender
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Jim,

People continue to say that the gay community “has a problem” with racism in the same context in which the black community has a problem with homophobia.

The black community is disproportionately homophobic. Accusing the gay community of racism in the same discussion implies that the gay community is disproportionately racist. Which, as far as I can tell, is not supported by the evidence.

Setting aside that dishonest inconsistency, even suggesting that ordinary, basal levels of racism in a community are a “problem” to that community is not a useful claim. By that standard, “the redhead community” has a problem with racism; “the nun community” has a problem with racism; even the black civil rights movement has a problem with racism. “Such-and-such group has a problem with racism” stops being a useful observation, since it is true to some degree of absolutely everyone on the planet. The only way to have a useful conversation is to discuss the DEGREE of the problem — and all the evidence I have seen suggests that black homophobia is MUCH WORSE than gay racism.

Until there is evidence that the gay community is in fact disproportionately racist, this topic will continue to be a dishonest distraction from discussing the very real problem of black homophobia.

AJD
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Good post, and you took the words out of my mouth (well, off of my fingers) about the expectation that Asian men be submissive in relationships. I remember when I was at a bar in San Francisco a few years ago, and during a drag performance, the queen brought an Asian guy on the stage and asked him if he was a top or bottom. When he said he was a top, a guy I’d been flirting with (a black guy, no less) said, “If he’d said he was a bottom, guys would be all over him.” I thought that was weird because I’d just come back to the States from China, where I had almost exclusively dated top guys, many of whom were older and taller than me…

Anyway, I don’t think it’s good to dwell on it, but I do think that being disproportionately attracted to people of a certain race is racist. It’s because it’s based an attraction to stereotypes rather than an attraction to the person. The related phenomenon of refusing to date people of a certain race is racist for the same reason.

There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to certain features such as skin tone, hair color, hairiness v. smoothness, etc., but you can find people who fit into those categories within any race. And there’s nothing wrong with preferring dark skin over light skin or vice versa. But if you write somebody off because they’re Caucasian, black, Asian, Latino or whatever, then it’s racist.

That being said, I don’t doubt that racism is widespread in the gay community, but don’t think it’s quite as blatant and overt. I’ll venture to guess that you’ll find a higher percentage of deliberately and actively racist people in the straight community than in the gay community. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I’ve observed, and I do see a lot more interracial gay couples than interracial straight couples (I myself am in an interracial relationship).

Trey
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

we get it…you don’t believe the gay community has a problem with racism. Now, can we that do get back to the discussion at hand.

In my experience, as a gay black man, I’ve definitely felt the sting of racism in this community. I’ve been denied entry at bars, been refused service, and been called a myriad of racially derogatory names, all while interacting with my gay community. Though, I have dealt with racism from the heterosexual community as well, I often find more explicit examples coming from my gay brothers and sisters. I pretty much expect some form of conflict in every city that i visit.

AJD
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Trey, I’m not sure if your post was directed at me or Timothy, but if it was directed at me, I never said I thought the gay community doesn’t have a problem with racism. I think it does, and the experiences you describe are clear examples. At the same time, I doubt you’d find a lot of openly gay people among the ranks of white supremacist or black supremacist organizations like the Aryan Nations or Nation of Islam. That’s what I meant by “deliberately and actively” racist people.

a. mcewen
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Pender,

You keep asking for “statistical evidence,” but as Jim says, that is a straw man argument.

Just because there is not “statistial proof” does not mean the problem does not exist. To infer so trivializes the many stories of lgbts of color (myself included) who have encountered racism in the gay community. And that in itself could be a perfect example of the problem – the stories of lgbts of color are kicked aside because they are seemingly not important enough or indigenious to the overall struggle of lgbt equality.” That is when we get to the heart of the matter. Just WHO in our community decides these sort of things? Whose voices are listened to? Whose faces do you see? How many times do you see lgbts of color on the cover of the Advocate or any of our other magazines? When an African-American oriented movie premieres with vicious anti-gay imagery (i.e. Soul Plane), would GLAAD give it as much attention as it would a “more mainstream” movie.

Things like that fuel the problem. Please bear in mind that I am not playing a comparison game. I just think that both issues (homophobia in the black community and racism in the lgbt community) need to be dealt with on an equal level.

Trey
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

My post was actually directed at Pender. Sorry for the confusion. I do have to disagree with you, though. You do bring up an intersting point, though. I have had dealings with “deliberately and actively” racist lgbts (though they may not have been officially part of the white supremacist movement, they definitely fetishized their culture), but I usually find the more subtle forms of prejudice to be more distressing. Those cases are where I feel powerless.

AJD
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

I think racism in the gay community varies depending on geography as well.

At my university in Indiana, the gay students were significant in number, but we were a small enough community that there wasn’t any balkanization on the basis of sexual orientation (Indiana University actually has a club just for bisexuals), religion or race. Gay students of every background attended the same student union meetings, went to the same parties, befriended and dated each other. Later, as the community got larger, it did start to become splintered, but on the basis on popularity rather than race.

Notwithstanding racism’s obvious origin in the greater American society, I think you’re likely to see more racism in the gay community in places where the community is large enough that it can afford not to be as tight-knit as it was when I was in college.

Brian
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

There is a debate among anti-racist activists on whether or not to even engage people who betray an obstinate incuriosity about racial justice (“where’s the evidence!” Well, did you really look in the first place? And are you being critical about the very questions you are asking?)

My apologies to Priya (another post) for the website about racism, I realize it can be overwhelming and it’s kind of disorganized. I recommend looking at the LGBTQ Racial Equity Campaign found here (http://www.lgbtfunders.org/programs/equity.cfm) and taking a look at where allocation of funds goes, who gets money, who has positions of power, etc. The fact that, in many instances, this was the first study of its kind says a lot about, again, the “LGBT” community’s incuriosity about racial justice.

Also consider this: What would an attitudinal study really show in a world where someone like Michael Richards can form his lips to say something delusional like, “I’m not a racist”?

The current political discourse shames people who are overtly racist to the point in which self-professed tolerance is a joke. Therefore an attitudinal study would probably be inaccurate in measuring what racism actually looks like because it’s more subtle and based on associations and imagery than “I hate black/Latino/Asian people”. You can’t compare two different social problems with two different histories and demand the same kinds of measurements. And, anyway, as I said in another post, LGBTs tend to lose comparison games.

And yes, anecdotes can be evidence especially if you get a lot of them coming from the same kinds of people and all saying similar things. Somewhere along the line you are just going to have to start believing people of color when they tell you about their oppression. That is a political decision, and one made when people have the will to look at the world around them and take seriously a country up to its eyeballs in racial discrimination.

Also, to those who say that LGBT people are less likely to support overtly racist organizations, I’d say that’s probably true. But it probably also has to do with the fascist ideology of these groups which almost always sees LGBT people as equally abominable as Jews and other ethnic groups. But also, let’s be clear that the ideology of the LGBT movement promotes “diversity” because it is in our best interests. This also leads to a lot of self-professed tolerance and open-mindedness. But can’t we acknowledge that rhetoric often does not match reality?

AJD
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Trey, no worries! I wasn’t completely sure…

I’m not surprised you have encountered overtly racist gay people, especially considering the n-word incident in LA; I just don’t think they’re quite as numerous, proportionally, as overtly racist straight people are.

That being said, I’ve read and heard a lot of accounts of the sort of subtle racism you’ve encountered, so I don’t at all mean to trivialize or minimize that.

Being a white guy, I can’t speak of directly encountering discrimination or claim to know what people of color encounter, but I’ve always found racial fetishization bothersome, especially when “rice queens” or people claiming to have “jungle fever” don’t see anything wrong with their fetishes.

Trey
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

AJD,
Racist occurrences always happen when i first move to a city. Eventually, I get the picture, and I know what to expect from the various bars, clubs, and centers. There are always a few places where the crowd is diverse, and the people are great.

I think that age should also be taken into account. I typically find that the older generations don’t think twice before letting me know how they feel about me or “my people.”

Trey
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t know about whether gay racism is proportional to its straight counterpart or not, but I have encountered enough gay racism–and with enough frequency–to know that it is a problem. I imagine many feel the same about homophobia in the black community.

Pender
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Look, clearly I’m outnumbered here, but generally when someone makes an accusation, that person has the burden to back it up with evidence. No, I haven’t looked hard for evidence; I’m not the one making the accusation. If YOU think the gay community has a problem with racism, PROVE IT.

We’ve all had “experiences” with one thing or another. I’ve had experiences with homeless women making life unpleasant on the subway. Does this mean that “women have a problem with homelessness”? An old woman was once rude to me at an airport. Does this mean that “old people have a problem with politeness”? No, of course not. Anecdotes can support any thesis no matter how outlandish or false. Statistics is our light in the darkness, and to ask for substantiation in response to an allegation as serious as racism is completely reasonable. In fact, it shouldn’t even be necessary.

Here is the evidence of black homophobia: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/opinion/29blow.html . Note especially this graphic: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/11/29/opinion/29blowlarge.jpg .

This is the sort of thing I want to see before people accuse the gay community of racism: evidence. If you sling around broad accusations at a minority group without evidence, you’re a bigot. Stop making hurtful generalizations about gay people if you don’t have the evidence to back them up.

AJD
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Trey, I’ll admit that I’m a little naive… As I mentioned before, I went to a university where race wasn’t so much of an issue, and the rest of my experience in the gayniverse was in China. But anyway, there’s obviously a lot to be done, and what you’ve described is certainly eye-opening.

Tavdy
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Black homophobia is especially abhorrent to me because (to my mind) black people should know better than to discriminate against and demean other social groups since they themselves experience the same treatment. However the flip-side is also true: while any racism is too much racism, LGBT racism is especially repulsive because LGBTs are themselves discriminated against and demeaned.

How much racism there is in the LGBT community actually isn’t as important as the fact that there is racism there in the first place.

TikiHead
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

I am white, and I’ve met my share of racist gay men — no special privilege there by virtue of being a minority themselves, just pain old bigotry.

My mouth fell open when a friend’s lover mentioned over dinner that ‘At least Hurricane Katrina removed a ‘certain element’ from New Orleans.” he smirked when he said it, like ‘you know who I mean.’ Disgusting.

TikiHead
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

@Pender

I don’t think the gay (white) community has a particular problem with racism: we just reflect the general population. I would guess, though I have no data for this, the gay population has more open-minded, self-questioning people statistically than the general population. But then there’s that smug racist queen as in my previous comment’s example.

AJD
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

TikiHead,

I heard some Republican gays imply that the Katrina disaster was because of cultural issues in the black community, and I thought that was pretty messed up. What you describe, however, makes me somewhat glad the guy who said that is gay because it reduces the chances that he’ll reproduce.

Rob Lll
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

A few thoughts…

Like AJD, I’m in an interracial relationship and his comments really resonated with me. It doesn’t seem to be an issue for most of the people we know (a substantial number of whom, straight and gay, are also in interracial relationships). But more than once someone (nearly always a person neither of us knows particularly well) has made a comment based in exactly the kinds of stereotypes he describes. It doesn’t happen much, but it’s exasperating and depressing. It certainly disabuses one of the notion that this is no longer an issue.

Nevertheless, I’m reluctant to judge anyone for being attracted (or not) to people of a particular race. While such a preference *might* be a manifestation of racism, I don’t think that it’s necessarily always the case. If you find yourself disproportionately attracted to or refusing to date people of a certain race, then maybe you should ask yourself why. There may be something deeper and really unhealthy going on – on that point I agree with AJD. Then again, there are LOTS of physical attributes that are turn-ons/turn-offs, some of which correlate fairly closely with race, some not at all. If I like older, heavier, uncut men, that doesn’t mean it’s out of animosity towards towards young skinny, Jewish guys. And whose business is it anyhow? You like what you like, and who knows why. As Tavdy points out, the idea that you must answer for what turns you on has more than a whiff of RR-type intrusiveness about it. No one is morally obligated to think you’re hot.

But while you may not be answerable for what turns you on, you ARE answerable for how you behave towards others, whether you’re attracted to them or not. What Trey has written about his experiences saddens and appalls me – there is simply no excuse for that kind of behavior. None. And judging from the comments on this thread alone, he’s far from the only one with these experiences. That’s not the kind of community or society I want to live in, even if it doesn’t directly affect me.

I don’t know if the incidence of racism inside the gay community is the same as society as a whole or slightly lesser – I’m not a social scientist and I’m guessing it’s difficult to quantify these things. But two things Brian said make a lot of sense to me, in part because I can find direct corollaries to them in my experience as a gay person. One, is that we have such an exaggerated image of what racism looks like, that many people fail to see it at all in its more subtle(and more common) manifestations. In other words, just because you’re not burning crosses and wearing a white sheet doesn’t mean you’re entirely free of racial animosity. By the same token, just because you’re not holding a “God Hates Fags” sign doesn’t mean you’re not a homophobe. A couple of months ago I wrote on another thread on how having gay “friends” has actually *enabled* the bigotry of some people, rather than attenuating it. I suspect Brian is talking about a similar dynamic going on with the official “diversity” rhetoric.

Two, I also think that the statement about anecdotes in large quantities constituting compelling evidence is, well, compelling. One of the things that I find frustrating with some straight people is that we tell them, over and over, that our sexuality wasn’t chosen and what do we get back? “Hmm. Is it a choice? I’m not sure. I think we need more evidence”. So apparently our word just isn’t good enough. That’s pretty insulting and I imagine that people of color feel a comparable frustration where their experiences with racism are dismissed or disbelieved. That’s not to say that *every* accusation of racism is justified, but where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. If we want to have to any moral authority when we discuss the failings of other communities, we need to be vigilant about our own.

Timothy Kincaid
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Pender,

Please read this carefully.

You have repeatedly asked for evidence that racism is a problem in the gay community. And repeatedly you have been told that this is a strawman argument.

In other words, you are attributing positions to others that they do not hold and then demanding that they prove their point with emperical evidence.

As best I can tell, no one here is making the claim that racism is more dominant in the gay community. Nor even insiting as factual that it is AS dominant as in the mainstream community.

They are only saying that racism is present in the gay community.

A number of people have given testimony as to seeing, hearing, or being the subject of race-based discrimination. And I hope that you will agree that if persons are feeling as though the community is mistreating them, then we have a problem.

Even if the gay community is less racist, even if 75% of black gays were to say, “oh jolly goodie there’s no racism here at all”, we would still have a problem. We would still have a sizable number of people who were experiencing discrimination and I hope you will agree that this is not OK.

I do agree with you that it is not useful to categorize the gay community as generally “racist” because that term implies a pattern of consistent behavior and attitude that is as of yet unsubstantiated.

But we are asking here, not telling. I’m not providing studies, as I don’t have any. I am asking for input and I will offer the courtesy of not challenging people on their personal experiences.

If I were required to guess, I would suppose that the gay community is less racist than the non-gay community. But that is based on nothing more than my own personal experiences, and I would be doing nothing more than extrapolation and conjecture. Others here may well assume the exact opposite based on their own personal experiences.

And it does me no good to plug my ears and claim that my experiences outweigh those of others.

I would very much recommend that you spend a little time listening and a little less demanding proof. And I’d not read more into the statements of others than is there.

Trey
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Pender,
It’s cool. You won’t believe there’s a problem until there’s some statistical evidence. That’s fine. I choose to go along with what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced. When I read articles about Shirley Q. Liquor, or read troubling posts on popular gay sites, or hear the complaints of lgbt people of color, I’m willing to think there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

I’m lucky in that I have a diverse group of friends. Their thoughts and feeling on a host of issues inform the way that I interact with others. Perhaps, if everyone tried to interact with people outside their race, class, or scene, there would be a lot more understanding.

I thought that I’d include the link to the Rolling Stone article on Shirley for anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/14474389/shirley_q_liquor_after_imus_a_black_face_comic_who_sings_12_days_of_kwanzaa

Pender
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy: I apologize, because I think you’re right that I missed the gist of your post and assumed accusations where you really meant only to start a conversation.

I do think that the overall tendency, in online discussions about gay rights generally and on this site specifically, is that discussions of black homophobia are immediately derailed by commenters defensively and reflexively insisting that it is somehow balanced out by gays being racist.

And while I admit that I misinterpreted your post — and I really am sorry about that — I don’t think we’d be discussing this issue if not for some sort of white guilt about discussing black homophobia. The reason this is a topic for conversation is the kind of false balancing that is so unhelpful to honest assessments of reality.

Your questions about being attracted to a single race or about de facto segregated bars or Pride events are good ones. But some people’s interest in anecdotes is not. The racist comment some gay guy made about New Orleans reveals nothing useful about the gay community at all, and in fact it’s actually counterproductive because it encourages us to stereotype a minority group (in this case, gays) based on one or more isolated and statistically irrelevant occurrences. It’s offensive for the same reason it is offensive to use a single example of a crime perpetrated by a black person as justification for the notion that black people in general are lawless or violent. The same goes for assertions like Trey’s that “I choose to go along with what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced.” Imagine if that were an acceptable standard for making wide-ranging condemnations of a minority group. Imagine if it were considered legitimate to ascribe a certain negative quality to black people because of what you’d personally seen, heard or experienced. Unthinkable.

I also disagree that even a disproportionately low level of racism among gay people means that there is a problem of racism in the gay community, because while the words might technically be true, they stop being useful when you use them that way. As I said, EVERY group has at least a slight level of racism (and sexism, and homophobia, and ageism, and anti-disability-ism, etc.), and to suggest that this constitutes a community problem is to make the concept of a community problem so broad as to apply to everything, all the time, forever. The statement is irrelevant to the extent that it is true.

I guess the reason I react so strongly to this topic of discussion is that I really do not want to see the notion that the gay community has a problem with racism become widespread unless there is statistical evidence that it is true. Because when it becomes widespread, it gets used an excuse and sometimes even a justification for homophobia. It also walks too close for my comfort to the line that we saw on this blog a few days ago that explicitly said gays were “to blame” for the passage of Prop 8 — for not doing enough outreach, for alienating minorities, for whatever. Yes, in practical terms, we could have and should do more; but morally, we shouldn’t HAVE to. Homophobia is always the fault of people who harbor it, even if we missed an opportunity to diminish its existence or effect.

OK, enough. Again, my apologies to those I’ve wrongly criticized (Timothy and everyone else discussing the issues abstractly without resort to or justification of anecdotes as the basis for stereotypes).

John
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

As a white guy, I am not qualified to make grand declaration about racism in the community.

Why not? Racism and all forms of prejudice are human problems, not limited to one race or another. To make a comment like this quashes any real discussion about race that many liberals claim to want to have, but really are only lectures about how bad “whitey” is. I’m willing to bet that a number of readers just balked at my last statement, especially the word in quotes, and are now putting me into a neat, tidy lil box they can label and dismiss. That’s how this game has been played for far too long by far too many of light and dark skin tones. Rather difficult to actually have that discussion we all say we want to have when this is the reaction we all normally have. I remain skeptical of liberals and conservatives when they talk on this subject because at least half of what they say is platitudinal BS.

Trey
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

Pender,
Do you think these studies you mention formed in a vacuum? Often, statisticians and researchers conduct a study, because of reported experiences and trends. Statistics and research are nothing without life experience to put them into context. I’ve grown up with statistics that tell me that I should be the jailed father of a few babies with various women. Forgive me for not considering numbers the beginning and end of the conversation.

Why do you feel that the experiences of others are isolated and statistically irrelevant? Why trivialize it? How is this discussion derailing the discussion of black homophobia? People are still talking, demonstrating, increasing visibility, and demanding respect. Why do you think this is not the case?

Again, I understand that you don’t feel that there is a problem with racism in the gay community. I respectfully disagree.

If discussions like this, can lead to more minority lgbt visibility in gay media, then I’m all for it. If it can give a person pause, before racially profiling a minority customer in a gay bar, then I’m all for it. If discussions like this one can increase integration in the gay community, then I’m all for it.

HuntTheWumpus
January 16th, 2009 | LINK

I just had to jump into the fray for whatever reason. In reading the posts, I am more apt to agree with Trey.

Pender: Not to discredit your argument, which is well put, but I sense this is a scenario where you’d “have to walk a mile in my shoes to see where I’m coming from”….This is to say if you’ve never been black in the lgbt community, you could’nt possibly imagine how it feels to be disregarded solely based on your skin tone or color. Its out there just because some entity hasn’t polled a particular segment of the lgbt community doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

It’s like everyone thinking racism is dead because people chose Obama for president. Its not true (as we all well know) and we don’t need a survey to prove it…..But I digress….

What amazes me is we want equality in society yet we refuse to treat each other as equals….boggles the mind!

Damon
January 17th, 2009 | LINK

While every group on earth contains some amount of racism, I don’t believe we can accuse the gay community of having a RACISM problem. Yet at the risk of being politically correct enough to offend, I do see a serious race/”white privilege” problem developing. This conclusion has been held by many going back as far as the 60s, but lately, even before Prop 8, the cry of “gay racism” has been growing louder and louder.

To have an enlightening conversation on this issue, we’ll need to leave aside the topic of sexual preferences of white lgb people.

My observations and solutions

1. We could benefit from less racial insensitivity and more racial diversity online. I’ve noticed the loudest cries of racism in the gay community is coming from the younger generation. I believe this is because their coming up in an age where their first encounter with the “gay community” is online. Unfortunately people are more likely to strip themselves of empathy over the internet. I think many young gay lgbt people of color get online and are exposed to highly racially insensitive beliefs and preferences. Unfortunately, there seems to be a substantial amount of rejection, whether as friends, lovers, or sexual partners, of lgbt people of asian and african descent. And you know what they say about first impressions.

I think it’d be helpful if lgbt people of color were urged to seek more influential positions in gay media and activism. Maybe large lgbt blogs and other media entities enlisting lgbt people of color who are more likely to choose more diverse stories, highlighting non-white people, lifestyles, perspectives, etc.

Strongdr
January 31st, 2009 | LINK

This whole discussion about gay racism is fraught with any number of questions that are admittedly not easy to resolve. While I strongly believe that gay racism is widespread, I also believe in the principle of having the right to what attracts you, for whatever reasons. Still, I am deeply troubled by the fact that one’s personality or looks are far too often trumped by race. In any other social situation, exclusion or “preference” based on race would be considered deeply repugnant by most. So why is this still okay in the gay community?

As for empirical evidence, anyone who’s ever been involved in scholastic studies knows that these are often merely suggestive; that they sometimes contradict each other and cannot really “prove” much, given the inherent parameters built into any study. Just as one doesn’t need to have “studies” confirming the prevalence of homophobia in the general population, you don’t have to read formal studies to know that separate Gay Pride parades exist in most major American cities, engendered by the exclusion of people of color in the gay community. And might a perusal of many gay magazines or dating websites that exhibit or state “caucasian only” give some clue that some troubling subliminal (and otherwise) messages are being communicated? As a person of color, I too have experienced racism in the gay community (I was called a “nigger” by a patron in a gay bar in New York, the first and last time in recent memory!). Comparing notes with many other gays of color have revealed similar experiences. These surely don’t exist in a vacuum. So it really bothers me that so many Gay Whites–having experienced discriminatory treatment themselves–are so quick to cite, say, Black homophobia, yet so dismissive of the problem gay racism in their own communities. Clearly, one can’t begin to solve any problem without first admitting that one exists.

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