This article was published on July 7th, 2016
Stereotypes can be a useful time saving mental process. They help us to order the world, make quick decisions and understand and process information quickly and efficiently. However, when it comes to stereotyping people, can it cause more harm than good?
Racism in the gay community has been a widely debated issue for some time now. People are expressing and defending their right to have a preference whilst more and more stories of minority prejudice and exclusion, that go far beyond a simple expression of preference, are coming to light. Stories from black men who are either openly ignored or turned into a fetish and from Asian men who are told not to even bother trying on Grindr profiles, without an interaction. ‘No rice or spice’, ‘Euros only’, ‘GWM’, ‘no Latinos/Asians/blacks’ are all terms used far to often on Grindr and other geo-location based connection apps, to express a racial preference.
Which begs the question, is racial preference racist? In itself it is fairly nonsensical; saying ‘I don’t like Asians’ disregards a vast number of people. Within Asia there is a huge variety of people, physically speaking Indians, Chinese, Thai and Malay men look nothing alike, culturally they are totally different. To the extent that it would make more sense to say ‘I only like white men’ but then that starts to sound like racism. But then physical preferences certainly do exist and guide our choices of partner in a big way, to ignore that would be pointless and misguided. Clearly not all preferences are created equal, but at what point should we start to challenge them?
The gay community hierarchy has been well and truly established with the white anglo man topping the pyramid but what if, instead of conforming to this hierarchy, it was challenged? What if we viewed diversity as an opportunity, if you’re still single maybe it’s because you’re perfect partner isn’t within the parameters you have set. What if, by widening the net, you’re increasing your opportunity to meet your perfect partner?
Whilst its unclear whether or not racism is any more prevalent in the gay community than in any other section of society, what is clear is that it is one of the sections of society that has the greatest first hand understanding of open discrimination and what it means to be discriminated against. The need for a gay community to exist in the first place has been born out of seeking a safe place away from homophobia and prejudice, isn’t it about time we ditch the stereotypes, stamp out the racism and make it a safe place for everybody who needs it?