I’m quickly approaching my 25th birthday and have come to the realisation that I’ve never been in a long-term relationship. That's not uncommon among millennials, but as a Black gay man, I've begun to wonder how my race has affected my chances of finding love.I like to think of myself as someone who’s adventurous when it comes to love and sex, someone who’d never rule out potential partners or new experiences.And when I scroll through Grindr’s grid of faceless torsos, I find myself only messaging guys with complexions lighter than a paper bag.Even in person, when I’m trying to muster up the courage to talk to a cute guy, I first wonder if he’s "into black guys." I hate myself for even having to contemplate these things, and I’m now left asking myself: And the more I think about it, the more complicated the answer seems. The only gay people I saw in the media were white, and the few Black queer celebrities that I knew of, like Wanda Sykes and Michael Sam, were in interracial relationships.My understanding of relationships is developing, as is my knowledge of race, but I’m still unpacking how my sexuality really relates to my Blackness.As I continue on this road to self-discovery and acceptance, I often think about my gay uncles who died, and I wish they could have been a part of this journey.He wrote, "As Black men, we need to value ourselves so much that no outside force, no prejudice — even one guised as preference — can make us feel second place." Clearly, this dialogue wasn’t only happening in my head.A larger conversation about the racist, fat-phobic, and misogynist language of gay dating apps has also begun, which has allowed me to see that my dating prospects may also be a result of problematic societal messaging.
And in doing that, are we only reinforcing the politics of desire that deem Black people less attractive?
All of this has shed a glaring light on my internal struggle.
About a year ago, I came across an article entitled "28 Questions for Black Men Who Only Date White Men." Each question from the article was a damning indictment of my apparently not-so-simple dating choices.
I’ve received messages that said, "I love BBC," or "I never been with a Black guy before," or, on the opposite end of the "no Blacks" spectrum, I've seen white men who are "not into white guys, sorry."When I'm dating a white man, I occasionally feel like I need to confront the issue of race head-on and acknowledge the difference in life experiences between me and my partner.
It can be frustrating, but also deeply enriching, to teach someone about my cultural upbringing.