Are gay men more racist than straight men? My friend Colby thinks so. He’s half white/half black/all gay. “I’ve had people come up to me in predominantly white gay bars and say, “Shouldn’t you be at the black bars?” I constantly overhear gay men say, “Eeew, I’d never date a black guy.”
Of course, there are certain beliefs white men have about African-Americans that Colby doesn’t mind — like the stereotype that they have bigger equipment. Colby thinks that isn’t true (the latest medical study backs him up — it shows there is no difference in penis size between black and white men). But he thinks hey, at least that’s one stereotype that makes black gay men more appealing.
Anyway, Colby is upset about the racism he faces and rightfully so. He’s convinced that gays are more prejudiced than straights, but I’m not so sure. While nobody would deny Colby’s experiences, he doesn’t have anything to compare it to. I mean, is it any worse for straight black guys who hang out at predominantly white heterosexual bars? I bet they hear as much or more racially-tinged remarks.
I seriously doubt gays are any more racist than straights. I just think witnessing or experiencing racism is more profound when it comes from us. After all, we’re a group that is systematically discriminated against at all levels of society. When we see or experience members of our tribe doing what’s done to us it has a powerful impact. Because it’s more memorable we tend to project out and think there’s a lot more of it than there really is.
Let me give you an example: I have a good friend who is gay, Latino, and has an Arab-sounding name. He’s like a triple-threat to bigots. He’s heard it all (“You’re nothing but a dirty Mexican,” “Your people flew jets into our buildings”) and experienced it all (constantly stopped at airports and pulled over by police drug dragnets).
And yet he constantly uses the “N” word and spouts off some of the most hideously stereotyped racist garbage you’ve ever heard. How is this possible? It’s the equivalent of watching an innocent man get beaten by a bat turn around and beat the innocent man next to him with it.
You’d think my friend would stop as he raised the bat to strike and think, “Wait, isn’t this the same bat those haters use on me for no good reason? Why am I doing the same thing?”
But he doesn’t. And neither do other prejudiced gay men. The different are not so different with the different than we think.
But are we any worse than our straight counterparts? I don’t think so. Racism is just more repugnant when we express it because we should know better.