Monday, February 27, 2012

Egg, Banana, and Coconut: Are Gays More Racist?

via HuffPost Gay Voices, by Marten Weber

Anyone following the hype over U.S. basketball star Jeremy Lin will have observed the thick layer of racism lying ponderously over the media.

One not-so-witty journalist rightly lost his job over the headline "Chink in the Armor," after Jeremy's recent setback, but the public statements of some athletes and the reactions in the press showed that race still matters, and racism is yet a fact of life.

As a hopeless (or hopeful?) sentimentalist, I like to think that there exists a global community of gay men and women who, in the face of discrimination and prejudice, all love and respect each other regardless of skin color, a worldwide brother- and sisterhood with common interests, similar outlooks on life, and shared values. Yeah, right!

How deluded this idea is was brought home to me during last year's visits to several American and European cities.

Almost every major metropolis with a gay scene has separate bars for Asians, and even for Asian-lovers, both of which have to endure a plethora of derogatory denominations, from "rice queen" to "potato queen" and a whole lot of edibles in between. (Do you know what a banana is? How about an egg or yolk? Or a coconut? Don't ask!)

A look at online profiles will bring the same disheartening revelation: the gay world is full of narrow-minded, bigoted racists.

Prowlers proudly pin their racism and prejudices on their profiles: the favorite "no fems, no chubs, no Asians!" reminds me of the old "no dogs or Chinese" store signs of pre-war Shanghai, and I shudder.

On my U.K. book tour in the lovely city of Manchester, we listened to natives explaining why Poles were good for a hot one-night stand (no pun there, I was assured), but not really boyfriend material; why one should always avoid Arabs and Turks ("they smell and lie"), and that Asians -- no offense to my husband, or indeed to me -- were only suitable for old queens or really ugly guys. "They are only after your money anyway."

The amount of racial affinity is staggering. Even in big metropolises like Madrid and Milan, we counted far more profiles of young men looking for men who were "alike" in age, looks, and muscle development than we found explicit interest in otherness and delight in racial difference.

The more subtle date-seekers qualify their predilections with the moronic "no offense, it's just my taste."

The author Andrew Holleran described the gay world as a social melting pot, the gay disco that most democratic of institutions, where construction workers meet lawyers on equal terms.

Apparently they do mingle, as long as the both share approximately the same genetic makeup. No Moroccan construction workers for that Danish lawyer, please.

As a biracial couple, we are especially attuned to such attitudes. My Asian husband tends to like or dislike cities by the number of friends we make on social apps -- thus Boston is better than Los Angeles, and Berlin better than London.

We made a test and changed his app picture to show only his torso. His dedication to healthy cuisine was rewarded by a whopping 143 Hi!s in half an hour!

Of those, 140 disappeared or blocked him when shown his -- and you must believe me here -- absolutely gorgeous Asian face. I won't tell you which city, but we ain't gonna visit there again, I tell you.

Go through any magazine in a Western bookstore or your local porn shop and you can count the number of ethnic cover boys on one hand. "Ethnic" is of course itself a Caucasian-centric term.

The fact that it, along with "Interracial," is a category on many websites is a sign of how far away we are from an equitable, accepting society in which the color of one's skin does not matter.

That Jeremy Lin has to be an Asian-American athlete rather than just an American basketball player is simply ludicrous.

To compare notes, we interviewed the owners of two straight dating website for this article, who told us that Asian men did not have a big following, whereas Asian women were fairly easy to match with desirous Caucasian husbands.

In general, the straight bars and pubs we surveyed had a higher percentage of racial diversity than any of the gay venues. In Asia, of course, Caucasian are invariably in high demand and are often treated better than their arrogance deserves. Perhaps because there are so few to go around? So is it racism or just a matter of supply and demand?

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