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15
Jan

Why not Straight Pride? Here’s why

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(Canadian Prime Minster gets into Pride spirit. AFP/Getty images)

June is officially LGBTQ Pride month, but you wouldn’t know it from the radio silence on the matter, two years running, from the White House. It’s been celebrated every year in June since 1970 after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.

There has been a tremendous amount of progress in the U.S. on LGBTQ rights in my lifetime. Heck, even in the last five years, despite, of course, the retrograde attitude of the White House.  Younger people, Millennials and Gen Z’s, are less likely to identify as gay or lesbian. And not because they’re closeted, as was the case back in the day. It’s because, thanks to the rights being won for LGBTQs and the idea among this cohort that sexuality is no big deal, therefore why claim to be anything?

But I don’t think we’re in a post-gay world – remember the post-racial world we had apparently entered a decade ago? And I don’t think that Pride parades are a relic of the past. Not yet. And neither does this op ed writer for USA Today.

Never has a person lost their job for being white or straight in North America, or been denied an apartment for being white and straight, or been leered at or attacked by strangers for simply holding hands with their significant others. There is a level of social and systemic privilege not afforded to many members of the LGBTQ community in North America, and certainly in many countries around the world…

Living proudly and openly in societies where your well-being (emotional, physical, professional) is constantly at risk is nothing short of brave. The fact that we are seeing more people live openly and honestly despite these challenges is a miracle.

Almost every day, we see threats made against members of the LGBTQ community. The scaling back of hard-earned rights and protections of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, is difficult to ignore.

Quite true. So we can scoff at Pride parades as being commodified by corporations. And there’s some truth to that. But remember when it was a big win when the first corporations co-sponsored Pride events? I do. It wasn’t all that long ago.

Rights are granted, and they can be taken away. I think it’s not a bad idea to remember that and celebrate them. And for the young or not so young LGBTQ person to find others like him/herself, proudly marching, it can be a transcendent experience.

Next time someone sneers and suggests a Straight Pride month, feel free to roll your eyes. Or, feel free to politely educate the people suggesting this. See also: Why Black Lives Matter – Why Not All Lives Matter.

 

11
Jan

Is race preference in dating really racism?

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According to a new study, it is.

The study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior entitled “Is Sexual Racism Really Racism?” took a look at gay and bisexual men and their dating preferences and found results that could have implications for the general public.

The researchers asked over 2,000 gay and bisexual Australian men how they felt about race and dating through an online survey. These men also completed a region-specific version of the Quick Discrimination Index (QDI), a standard survey instrument that measures attitudes on race and diversity. After putting these two data sets together the authors concluded: “Sexual racism… is closely associated with generic racist attitudes, which challenges the idea of racial attraction as solely a matter of personal preference.”

The Daily Beast breaks down these findings and applies them to common phrases seen on dating websites and apps, phrases that are often prefaced by some variation on “I’m not a racist, but…”

If you’re a gay man, phrases like “no blacks” and “no Asians” aren’t just words that you’d find on old signs in a civil rights museum, they are an unavoidable and current feature of your online dating experience. On gay dating apps like Grindr and Scruff, some men post blunt and often offensive disclaimers on their profiles such as “no oldies,” “no fems,” and “no fatties.” Among the most ubiquitous are racial disclaimers like “no blacks” and “no Asians,” which are most frequently posted by white men but, as Edwards’s case proves, not always.

Sometimes, men even use foods as metaphors for entire ethnic groups: “No rice” to deter Asian men, “no spice” to keep the Latinos away, and “no curry” to tell Indians they don’t have a shot.

Those who deploy these disclaimers defend themselves from accusations of “racism” by claiming that they merely have “preferences” for certain races over others. Wrote one gay blogger, “Don’t tell me I can’t have a preference! I don’t want to have sex with women. No hard feelings. Does that make me a misogynist?” Others have argued that it is impossible to separate the language of so-called sexual racism from racism in other spheres of life. There is a reason, they insist, that men of color are most often pushed to the sexual wayside. “No whites” is a much less popular slogan.

Emphasis ours.

Though the study focuses on gay and bisexual men looking for male partners, the researchers aren’t suggesting that gay or bisexual men engage in more racial discrimination than their heterosexual counterparts or lesbians for that matter. Rather, they suggest that the behavior is just racism disguised in the language of desire, which theoretically a person of any sexual orientation could be afflicted with. From the author of the study:

“While it may feel like our desires are our own, in reality they are influenced heavily by social norms,” explained Callander. “For me, the findings of this study are a reminder that even though society and individuals may actively reject racism, racial prejudices are increasingly subtle and they can find their way into even the most private and personal corners of our lives.”

We’re very interested in seeing whether heterosexuals seeking partners use the same phrases – no spice, no rice – or whether their sexual racism takes a different form.