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Monday, 03 December 2012 18:02

Is Your Sexual Preference Racist?

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When it comes down to it, most gay guys have a physical type that they prefer. There’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll only ever play around with people who fit your criteria, or that you think there’s something wrong with people who aren’t your particular cup of tea. Increasingly though, the way that some people express their preference online or via smartphone apps is creating problems and causing hurt. The latest issue of FS magazine examines the issue of sexual racism and the harm that it can cause.

FS editor, Ian Howley, explains, “It’s easy to say, “I’m not into Black guys, or Asian or white guys” and think we aren’t harming anyone. You may think ‘but it’s only my preference and everyone is allowed to have a preference’, which is true. But when you express that preference publicly, in a way that sends negative messages about whole ethnic groups, then it can become a problem. Why? Because you are directly affecting how people value themselves.”

Scott Roberts, author of the Sexual Racism feature says, “Rejection is always a difficult thing to deal with, regardless of whether it is racially based or because you are 5ft 7. Seeing ‘no Blacks, no Asians’ displayed on a profile would sadden me, but it’s nothing compared with getting those remarks back in a direct message. Rejection is always worse when you are not expecting it.”

Sexual racism isn’t just about white guys discriminating against Black guys, it can work the other way too. Godwyns, a gay Nigerian living in London, says, “The opposition I face amongst fellow gay Blacks for going out with a white man... would be termed racism if my [white] partner's friends and family did the same”

Matthew Hodson, Head of Programmes at GMFA, who publish FS magazine adds, “Despite the prejudice that most gay men encounter in our lives at one point or other, members of our community can still display both prejudice and insensitivity towards other gay men. We see this not just in the attitudes which some people are willing to publish about Black and other ethnic groups, but also in attitudes towards people who don’t fit pre-conceived notions of masculinity. When we face so many challenges from outside of our community, it’s shaming that people continue to inflict damage on each other.”

Sexual racism may have a greater impact than just hurting people’s feelings. Feelings of low self-esteem can lead to men not being able to take control of the sex that they have, or not being able to ask for what they want sexually, which can result in men not insisting on condom use. “We also frequently see blanket sexual rejection of people living with HIV,” Matthew continues. “Frankly, as a sexual strategy, rejecting people who are open about their HIV status just isn’t very effective. People with diagnosed HIV are likely to be on treatment, which means that they will be less infectious than men who have not been diagnosed, and who would not be able to disclose. And if men living with HIV face rejection when they disclose their status, then it may discourage them from disclosing in the future.”

You can read the sexual racism feature in the latest issue of FS magazine, alongside other health related articles for gay men, including an in-depth feature on HIV testing. FS magazine is available for free in gay venues and GUM clinics in London, or can be viewed at www.fsmag.org.uk. FS magazine is now also available to download on your iPhone, iPad or Android device for free. Visit www.gmfa.org.uk/fsapp of search for ‘FS magazine UK’ in iTunes and Google Play.

 

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