Jonathan hasn't received a message in weeks.
A 25-year old gay man who lives in New York, he keeps a folder filled with various dating apps on his phone—including Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder. Since moving to Hell’s Kitchen two months ago, he says he can “count on one hand” the number of messages he’s gotten from men in the popular Manhattan gayborhood.
Jonathan, a muscularly built student at NYU decides to engage in a little experiment over coffee in a Harlem café: He changes his profile picture to a male friend’s photo. The friend is cute and clean-cut, but most importantly, he’s white. Jonathan gets 50 messages in less than a half hour.
To be honest he isn't surprised. In fact, he is used to this. “It doesn’t matter what I write in my profile,” Jonathan says. “You’re not going to read it because you’re automatically going to make assumptions about me based on my race.” It was recently that someone sent him a message on Grindr that he can't forget, “You fucking chinks are the reason why there’s so much racism in the gay community,” it read.
Unfortunately, his experience isn't uncommon, especially on dating ("hook-up") sites. In 2014 Christian Rudder, founder of OkCupid told NPR there is a "bias" on almost all platforms against black and Asian users. “Every kind of way you can measure their success on a site—how people rate them, how often they reply to their messages, how many messages they get—that’s all reduced,” he stated.
Researchers in Australia polled about 2,000 gay and bisexual men, and found that 70% percent felt that it was o.k. to exclude someone based on their ethnicity and it wasn't racism, and they also believed that to have 'no Blacks', 'no Asians' was just stating a preference (what a load of crap, in my opinion).
Let's just be real about this, sexual racism has become a contentious one in the gay community, as most gay and bisexual men depend on their phones in ways they once did at local bars; which as you know leaves certain types of people in these online communities out in the cold. As Jonathan explains "it can be difficult to find your place in the community where you're too often shut out by people who believe that exclusion is harmless - or even natural."
Peter an Asian American living in Salt Lake City stated: “It took a toll on my self-esteem, I wondered, why not me? I thought that was the culture,” he said. “But when I talked to my white friends about it, it was if they lived in a completely different world. Their profiles are flooded with hundreds of different messages and filled with conversations with all different kinds of people. My friends of color, though, had the same experience as me: You rarely get a message and rarely does someone respond to yours.”
Peter admits that he doesn't get many messages on any dating platform and that it took him a while to understand why people were not responding to him. "I just get the feeling that I am not wanted because of my heritage and that is Asian." What bothers Peter the most is when people send messages that include words such as 'chink', 'slant eyes', 'bedtime', lemonhead', and 'japanigger'. “I see my friends who are always with new people or going on dates. It makes me feel left out and isolated knowing that it’s not as easy for me to navigate the gay scene. I’ve struggled with not feeling attractive enough because there are such strict beauty standards in the gay community around what’s considered attractive. You have to fit into that box.” he stated.
We have to understand that sexual racism is not exclusive to online spaces, but what makes the discrimination unique is unlike chat rooms, most users believe they have some sort of expectation that what they share is private. Allowing users to express exclusionary preferences around race, but otherwise would not in public. But statements like 'no chocolate', 'no rice', 'whites only' are very prevalent in online dating sites. "It's less common that I experience overt racism when I'm at a bar, but online it's an entirely different situation," says Akio a 28-year old gay man from Seattle. "I can’t log on a dating app without people telling him that they’re “not into Asians guys."
Akio recounts an experience where he was talking to a guy online, when he sent a picture, the man he was talking to replied, I doesn't mess around with Asians. However, it just so happened that he was out with friends and low and behold he spotted the same guy he was just talking to three days prior. I asked a friend to introduce us, and when we walked over this man was all over me, but when I recounted our online conversation, he had nothing to say, except sorry.
If you were walking down the street with other people and yelled discriminatory slag, that would be socially unacceptable. But for some reason when you're alone and not in the presence of others it appears to be o.k. Why? Maybe because you have a physical barrier between yourself and the people you're interacting with? When is it alright to say "it's a preference" and it's not racist? It's racist regardless how you look at it there are no other words to describe this behavior. This applies to all social groups in the LGBT community, we see just as many 'no whites', so let's not fool ourselves to think otherwise.
When I hear people talk about togetherness, we're one community I have to call bullshit. Let's just be real about discrimination in the LGBT community, it happens across the spectrum.
The bottom line is when we use discriminatory language on social app's we invite a complete lack of empathy for those with whom one is engaging.
If you don't know who you're talking (chatting) with and don't have to physically see their reaction to what's being said you don't feel as bad.
What a sad community we still have to deal with open discrimination and racism in the LGBT community.
Nigel Garrett was sentenced to 15 years in prison after using Grindr to lure gay men and attack them. The 21 year old Texan and three accomplices created a fake profile on the app and would arrange a meeting at the victim's house. The accused the bound the victim, physical attack and shout anti-gay slurs at him. Upon going through his house, they would leave with the victim's valuables.
During the plea agreement, portions of the crime were described.
"Garret admitted that he, Anthony Shelton, and Chancler Encalade used Grindr, a social media dating platform for gay men, to arrange to meet the victim at the victim's house.
Upon entering the victim’s home, the defendants restrained the victim with tape, physically assaulted the victim, and made derogatory statements to the victim for being gay. The defendants brandished a firearm during the home invasion, and they stole the victim’s property, including his motor vehicle.”
Texas doesn't have any hate crime laws that would protect LGBT people from such crimes. Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore relied on The Matthew Shepard and James Bryd. Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act(s). This allowed the Justice Department to go after criminals in states that currently have no protections The defendants are have also been charged with "conspiring to cause bodily injury" because of the victim's identifies as LGBT. Anthony Shelton, Chancler Encalade, and Cameron Ajiduah have all pleaded guilty, but have not been sentenced for these crimes.
John Core, Acting Assistant Attorney General stated “Hate crimes are an attack on a fundamental principle of the United States to be free from fear of violence because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, or national origin.
The Department of Justice is committed to using every tool at its disposal to combat this type of violence.” While Brit Featherston, Acting U.S. Attorney stated
“Violence, in any form, is an affront to the American principles of freedom and safety that our communities are entitled to.
The Department of Justice has made prosecution of violent crime a priority. The Eastern District of Texas, in prosecuting this case and others like it, intends to demonstrate that this priority is something more than just a slogan.”
I have always said that if you're going to use gay social app be cautious.
I came across this article by Michael Lamber "Want to Help LGBTs in the South: Move Here". It's an opinion piece about dealing with criticisms, prejudices from others (he lived in New York City) about being from the South. It's an interesting article and made me think about my time away from New Orleans. I went to university in the Mid-West (Northwestern and University of Michigan). I don't recall being "looked down" upon because I was from the South.
For most people they didn't or couldn't believe I was from the Deep South, and only because I didn't have an accent. I never could get people to understand that not everyone in the South has an accent, and that there are different types of dialects with regards to accents. Other than that I never experienced and criticisms because I was from New Orleans.
Like most people, Southerners hate being talked down to—and that includes progressive Southerners. Every time an LGBT issue comes up, the criticism of Southerners overtakes the many efforts and yes, even successes, of progressives in the South. Michael Lamber
Do you think being from the South we are "looked down" upon? Do people in other parts of the country think we are ignorant and what do we say? No sure I agree that having people move to the South would change attitudes.
Recently HRC suspends Walmart's CEI score. The conclusion was that while Walmart might have a LGBT policy, it isn't enforced. Reports show that Walmart did little to nothing to protect LGBT employee's from discrimination. For awhile it was unclear why Walmart received such a high score on the CEI index. One theory is that Walmart like many companies only seek to attract LGBT dollar's and really don't care one way or the other about issues in the LGBT community.
It appears that HRC's reticence to modify its application or enforcement of polices says volumes about the power corporations have over the LGBT movement Recently HRC was asked to sign a letter demanding Nissan to take a neutral position on recent union elections at Nissan. HRC refused to sign the letter.
The Human Rights Campaign finally acknowledged the retail giant is not treating its employees — including LGBT employees — humanely. Jerame Davis says HRC should have made this point much sooner.
An article written by Jerame Davis and Michele Kessler they highlighted issues not only with HRC's CEI scoring but how corporation have a hold over HRC and other community leader. Just because they sponsor pride events, create floats doesn't mean that companies are treating or actively combating LGBT discrimination in the workplace.
Maybe until HRC can actually do something for the LGBTQ community instead of pandering to corporations we should suspend our donations.
Image purchased at istock.com and used for commercial use only.
I came across an article written by Kevin Maxwell in 2016 for the Independent. The article focusses on discrimination against non-white members of the LGBT community in London. So how does that pertain to New Orleans? It is a fact that the LGBT community in New Orleans is segregated and at times highly racist. For example, in the past 9 years I have only come across one Asian, and he’s a personal friend. Aside from that I have never seen an Asian in the LGBT community. The same can be said for black and Latinos in the community. Why is that?
The following article "Racism is rife in the LGBT community. Gay People cannot call for equality while discrimination against others" is a reflection and a well-established truth in the LGBT community, not just in New Orleans, but in many cities around the United States.
So, what do you think? Have you experience racism in the LGBT community? Tell us your story.