3 min

Dating just white men

It's something I hear far too much

Why are so many gay men of colour hunting for a white man? Credit: Xtra files

On this grand Monday evening the conversation of my best friend and I turned to why we both don’t have boyfriends in our lives.

My best friend dared me to check the classifieds. I’m not into the bar scene or hanging out on Church St. I am seeking a gay black man, not unlike myself.

When I finally decided to open the newspaper, I was shocked. “Gay Asian male seeks gay white male.” “Gay black male seeks gay white male.” The ads went on and on. Why are so many gay men of colour hunting for a white man?

I grabbed the newspaper and angrily threw it into garbage. My best friend walked over, patted me on my shoulder and laughed, “It’s just the gay classifieds.”

“You like white men a lot,” I blurted out.

“I don’t like South Asian men,” replied my friend, who is South Asian. “They are not sexy. That’s just the way it is.”

“Why? I think there are plenty of South Asian guys here in Toronto that I find to be very attractive. But you won’t even give them a chance. You just flock to the white guys.”

“Because I can’t deal with men of colour.”

I don’t think my friend is alone among other men of colour, wanting a white boyfriend. And it makes me angry.

I think these guys have defined the gay community as white and they’re doing anything they can to fit into it. For this, many men of colour seem willing to forgo their heritage and blend in, passing up opportunities to date their peers.

I am mad at this world view because it’s awful and also because it hurts my dating prospects.

For instance, I went on a blind date a few months ago with a 26-year-old Jamaican guy I met on the Internet. We decided to go to Slack Alice on Church St for brunch. Everything was going well until he told me that he preferred white men.

“I have never gone out with another black guy before. I think some black men feel I would like them just because we are all black. I don’t want to date someone who looks like myself.”

I frowned at him.

“Where are the gay black men that are comfortable with their sexuality, Orville? Look at this table. There is only me and you. I am not into guys that are unaccepting of themselves. I hate guys that try to act macho and tough. I don’t like the hip-hop look. In Toronto, there is a higher percentage of white guys that are openly gay than black men…. Where we come from, people don’t want to understand homosexuality. Being gay is still considered acting white.”

His reasons didn’t ring true for me, just like the Asian guy who told me he didn’t like other Asian men because of their accent. I hear the same line all the time, these excuses. I wish people would just be honest: They like white men because they think they are somehow better off, that they’re more secure in society and in the gay community.

I do understand the real fear and anxiety some black men feel because I’ve been in their shoes. I remember another guy I started dating on and off last year.

He is Jamaican, like me. Politically-inclined and cute. We went to Square One in Mississauga on one Sunday afternoon shopping and we ended up in a trendy store. When I saw him pick up a pair of leather pants, I told him they looked kind of gay.

“Don’t use that fuckin’ word around me ever again,” he said. “I know a lot a of other black people here in Mississauga. Don’t pull that gay shit on me. I have a reputation to keep. I have to deal with the consequences of the way I live my life.”

A few months of dating later, he told me if I wanted to continue the relationship, I would have to toughen myself up and be more macho. He told me I embarrassed him at times. I hated it when he told me to lower down my voice whenever we hung out with his straight friends. He was also seeing a girl at the same time he was seeing me.

Though the macho elements of gay black culture can be frustrating sometimes, I think it’s more satisfying dealing with than gay white guys who don’t know my reality as a black man. I can’t count the times I have been on Church St where a guy will approach me with ignorant stereotypes. I’ve heard them all. “I’ve never been with a black guy before.” “Do you have a big dick?” I feel like I’m being treated like a sexual fetish, an object defined by my skin colour.

Which makes it especially strange that many other men of colour seem to feel their relationships with each other aren’t as important.

My best friend and I are on good terms. I wish him the best in his search for a white boyfriend. But I think he’s passing up a lot of good men and the chance to experience a relationship that has a shared culture, if he’d just give it the chance.

* A different version of this article first appeared in Venus magazine’s Oct/Nov issue.