Friday, March 4, 2011
"Chasing Chocolate": A White Man's Tale of the Interracial Sexual Politics of Gay Men
Here is my piece for the Intersection of Madness and Reality, "Chasing Chocolate": A White Man's Tale of the Interracial Sexual Politics of Gay Male Communities"
In my previous relationships, it has become very clear to my peers that a pattern developed: the majority of men I'd dated were Black. Yes, I've "gotten my swirl on", "liked chocolate", and whatever other colloquialism my peers wanted to prescribe to my romantic relationships to reduce them to some dessert dish society will consume, digest, misappropriate and attempt to delegitimize. Keep in mind, these are the less harsh comments I received. As is the case with many relationships, all the weight of my peers' baggage had been placed upon my relationships such that I'd been told not to date Black men because they will run up my credit (a Black gay man, mind you), to "be cautious of their big, Black dick", and whatever other stereotype or myth that came to mind as they decided to spew out their word vomit.
Let's clear up a few things: I have never given any man the opportunity to "run my credit up" and I have met plenty of non-Black men with a, shall we say, "plentiful member" as well as some Black men who don't quite size up to the myths that chase their identities. All this to say, it is quite interesting to watch how gay interracial sexual politics have been constructed within our communities and how we allow heterosexual taboo to steer our desires and understandings of self/others.
This is not only the reality I have seen surface in certain queer spaces but also the socially imposed stereotype that has followed the taboo that is interracial dating. While I'd like to speak generally and say men who date outside their race, I've noticed the myth of the "BBC" seems to predominantly affect Black men (and perhaps some Latino and other "ethnic" men).
Black men are seemingly only given visibility or acknowledgment in gay culture when they are evermore hypersexualized. By that I mean, society has already assigned an overtly sexual identity to both Black men and gay men. Black gay men have the potential to carry the brunt doubly. It also appears that when a gay boy (sorry, boi?) is going through a dry spell or has some preconceived notion of what lies in the Black man's pants, he is more than willing to use him to explore his little experiment in whether or not he "likes chocolate." Some Black men glory in the revelation that everyone seems to think their dick is huge. In a culture where sexual voyeurism is normalized, the nuances of socio-sexual taboos must be examined. Why are these normalized sexual roles being placed upon Black gay male bodies and how have some men become complacent in these roles?
The "mandingo" is a racial stereotype that has followed Black men throughout the century. He is sexually subservient and plagued by negative sexual imagery. Keep in mind his servitude is not determined solely through submission. He can be sexually subservient through acting aggressively to penetrate and enact a "rape scene" that appeals to his partners racialized desires. Or he can be sexually submissive and be dominated by the penetrator. Either way, his sexual subservience is anticipated.
The "mandingo" does not only live in the minds of the external. Some Black gay men have internalized this mindset so much so that their sexuality is consumed by the myths that precede them--myths about their member, their (hyper)sexuality, their sexual preferences (and why has the "n-word" found its way into interracial sexual exchanges?). It becomes detrimental when a person's entire being is consumed by their sexuality and nothing more, suggesting a person is merely a body. It is reductive and ignores the complexities of what makes the individual whole. When a person only finds value in their existence through sexual realms, it ignores and denies all of the other valuable attributes of their personhood.
While I recognize this is going to be an unpopular argument precisely for the fact that no community likes their dirty laundry aired out, I've watched as these issues plague our communities. Using people on the basis of sex without at least offering them the dignity or respect of acknowledging their humanity (or remembering their name) is a disease we are suffering from--alluding to the fact that you'll fuck a Black guy, you just won't take him to meet your family or friends. This is not a criticism of casual sex; instead, it is the methods of how these actions are carried out that is the problem. There was a time when being caught in interracial sexual acts would have gotten you killed. How much better have things gotten if it is now our souls that are dying, our relationships with one another? Violence is often discussed in its physical manifestations but rarely addressed in terms of the spiritual brutality many of us face.
We've internalized a "Birth of a Nation" mentality whereby all Black men are depicted as sexual predators here to dominate and penetrate the Anglo. Don't believe me? Check any porn site or the articles being written about it. As a matter of fact, google "gay interracial" and see if you can find anything that isn't sexual in nature. Let's be real: porn is very much a part of our culture. I have plenty of friends who can name tons of porn "actors". So we watch as Black men dominate, aggressively penetrate, and gang rape some "poor innocent white boy" and I'm supposed to believe that's not playing a role in the way we interact cross-culturally? HA!
There is also the fact we've created a culture where narcissism runs rampant--thinking everyone wants your goodies. Is there some unwritten rule that Black men (under the guise of Black hypermasculinity) are all tops (penetrator)? Plenty of men who are otherwise tops/vers tops, want to bottom for Black men...and are not timid about how they choose to communicate it. It is my belief that this relates directly to the stereotypical assumptions made about Black male sexuality and potency.
What I love about the politics of versatility: 1) no one wants to allow people to identify as such because it's easier to box gay men into the top/bottom dichotomy 2)everyone's decisions on when to "switch" are informed by something different. 3) you watch as gay men run away from being labeled a bottom (misogyny is alive and well) so they claim to be versatile instead. But even when we do operate in the dichotomy of top/bottom, why do I see so many individuals become complacent in racist, sexualized roles whereby sex becomes all about domination? Is this part of a larger conversation on sex and power? Either way, the point of the story is not all Black men are tops nor are they the mandingo your porn mandates them to be.
Men of color are not sexual, erotic, or "exotic" objects here for the disposal of other (read: white) men's sexual aims. Men of color are not to be reduced by another's ignorance surrounding intercultural exchanges, including the sexual. For the record, if a man of color permits you to mistreat him, that does not make it acceptable. In the same token, just because your friend says its okay for you to project racial slurs upon them doesn't make that right either.
As I've battled having to fight stereotypes about my own identities and choices, I've since realized it is symptomatic of a larger issue: ignorance. Who I choose to be with or sleep with is my business. If anyone should know that, it's queer communities. So if you'd like to reduce me to "chasing chocolate", "only dating Black men" or whatever else...you've got some issues to work through, honey.
Interracial dating, sex, exchanges should not be thought of as places of "racial reconciliation" where some type of healing takes place. By that I mean, just because you fucked a Black man does not mean you're any less racist than you were before.
Follow-up piece: "Back to Black: Revisiting the Interracial Sexual Politics of Gay Men"