It surprises me how many of the things we experience growing up stay with us 'till adulthood. Moreover, even after considerable effort in digging into the past to route out the roots of our present emotional, psychological, and spiritual disease, we find that weeds have popped up bound and determined to increase the amount of work we still must do.
This is where I find myself.
I have written fairly extensively about my experiences as a black and gay man. And I debated a great deal as to whether I should continue to blog about these struggles. My assumption is that most people that have read my writings or know me personally have grown tired of my ongoing rants about race and sexuality. But recent conversations and Facebook threads have triggered feelings and issues that have always lain under the surface of my superficial conscious living. I've started conversations with several black men and white men about their attractions to different races - exploring the "why's," the guilt and shame, and the triumphs and difficulties of loving someone of a different race.
I concluded that I can no longer hide my invisible struggle if I am, indeed, going to find the healing and restoration I so desperately seek.
A series, a book, a thread, a group?
Perhaps this will lead to a series of blog postings (most likely), or a book, a Facebook thread, or group (which I'm also considering). I don't have all the answers. I haven't read everything there is to read on being black, gay, and attracted to a different race. I am not an expert. The only thing I am an expert on, however, is my own life and my own lived experiences. And at the end of the day, that alone is credibility enough.
I am seeking community. And this is hard for me because I have always felt on the outside looking in. I'm discovering that I need others with similar stories to have brotherhood and sisterhood with. My story is not going to be exactly the same as others. Some, I'm discovering, have been able to overcome their struggles far easier and quicker than I have been able to. Others are struggling even more so than I am. But this is not the time for pat answers such as "it is what it is" and "you are attracted to who you are attracted to." I don't buy that for a moment. To me, these statements are often lazy veils we drape over our sexual urges to hide a more sinister reality - that if we were to truly face ourselves in the mirror, ask the hard questions, and keep digging 'till we reach bedrock (some people need to dig far further than that), I have a feeling, many of us would shirk away in shame from the ugly truths that live within us about why we are attracted to certain people and not to others.
My belief is that there is ALWAYS a reason "why!" Unfortunately, most of us are too afraid to discover the answers.
Back in 2009, I had the privilege of attending a workshop for African American gay men in Seattle - "Brother's Link." On the first night, over dinner, we were asked to participate in a three-part activity. Three large flip chart sheets were displayed with three different titles for each sheet: Black Men, Gay Men, and Black Gay Men.
We were asked to state words describing how we felt about each group. Upon the "Black Men" sheet about 95% of all the words given were negative. Upon the "Gay Men" sheet, the same level of negativity. And upon the "Black Gay Men" sheet, again, most of the words given were unfavorable.
The fact that so many of my companions had so many negative things to say about the very things they were, illustrated two things. One - either the indoctrination that being Black in America or Gay in America was an evil had taken hold or, Two - so many negative patterns had rooted itself within these three communities that it wasn't difficult to come up with negative descriptors. Granted, there were positive things said about each community but those were sorely diminished by the negative adjectives.
In these passages, I am not trying to negate the negative in the interest of painting any community in a more favorable light. I am writing to, to the best of my ability, expose the negative and in the process of such exposure, ask questions to determine the "why's."
A few years ago, I accompanied a dear friend of mine to a Fourth of July party hosted at a house of one of his acquaintances. Upon crossing the threshold, I saw an older white gay man with an Asian man who was clearly his lover. As I turned to look into the living room I saw yet another White/Asian pairing. Upon further observation I noticed more and more White/Asian pairings.
I have noticed this White/Asian pairing so frequently that upon seeing it I can't help but wonder why this stereotype (a pattern that is beyond coincidence) continues to occur with frequency?
On the topic of gay racial pairings I have noticed a very interesting trend that warrants a cause for concern because its implications might point to a far more inconvenient truth about why we are sexually attracted to certain groups and not others.
Just through observation (which is the primary way in which I come to conclusions), I have noticed that gay pairings rarely come in the form of Asian/Asian (what is derogatorily called "sticky rice"), Latino/Asian, Latino/Latino, Black/Latino, or Black/Asian. What I have noticed is that White's usually can have the pick of the litter - any man they choose. I've seen White/Asian, White/Latino, and White/Black. But rarely do these minorities pair with each other. I suspect that all this is highly geographical of course as you would find more Black/Black pairings, for instance, where more African Americans reside and so on.
But these observations only beg the question, "Why?" Why do we see more pairings of the hegemonic (dominant) culture (White) with themselves and other minorities than we see of minority/minority pairings? Granted, Caucasians make up the majority of the populace (for the current time) but is majority the only reason why there is such an observable lack of minority/minority pairings?
And on the flip side, in a part of the debate I might touch on later, why are there those who emphatically choose not to date outside of their race no matter the costs? This argument covers both extremes, those who only date outside their race and those who won't date anyone outside their race. Again, why?
This brings me to the crux of the issue and the reason why answering the "why" question is so important.
Are we, in our racial-sexual selecting, inadvertently contributing and reinforcing a much larger system of racism, prejudice, and subversive discrimination?
I will attempt to examine this crux further in part two.
At this point it behooves me to state that I am NOT promoting like/like racial pairings (only date within your race). On the contrary, I believe that diversity within the dating realm is positive progress, but I cannot help but question when dating trends, that are highly determined along racial boundaries, are so frequent. Nor can I ignore when some members of a race exclusively date within a particular race at the exclusion of all others. To me, this signifies a much deeper (and often more negative) discrimination that has the potential of exhibiting itself in other areas outside of the bedroom.
For more info about Garland Jarmon please visit his website www.garlandjarmon.com
| GARLAND JARMON
Guest Contributor for Male Media Mind