Lately, I have been doing loads of thinking about the role of my skin complexion (notice I didn’t use “race” here…) and how it shapes people’s perception of me. I never really took the racial discourse that has plagued America very seriously. While people often times have countless stories of having experienced racism, I almost have none and couldn’t be bothered about racial politics. I grew up in a very “colour blind” household and my parents never once mentioned that my skin complexion will hold me back. Going to university certainly opened by eyes to the widespread nature of institutional racism in the United States but I figured I will probably wont be living in the United States so I could be bothered with it. In college I came across the seminal work of Frantz Fanon titled “Black Skin White Masks”. In the book he asserts that the color of his skin shapes the white perception of him and thus the white man does not “see” him since the white man only sees his body and the color of his skin. He posits that such intra-racial encounter between whites and blacks is enslavement upon sight. Arguably he believes that the body of both black females and males plays a crucial role in the formation and development of their racial consciousness. So why am I discussing racial politics if I couldn’t be bothered?
Let me take a step back and contextualise the situation.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I got free access to one of the leading “gay dating” sites in the world appropriately named gaydar. Being on gaydar, I have had come fascinating and interesting (to say the least) conversations with people. One thing I have noticed not just on gaydar but in London as well is that most [white] gay guys here are very open to dating or hooking up with people outside their race. This is not what I experienced in the US as most people like to date or hook up with only “straight-acting” white males or jocks.
Generally I find people who have racial hang-ups regarding sex and dating rather suspect. I truly believe there’s a large degree of (negative & regressive) social engineering behind any proclamation that ‘I’m just not into [insert race]’. Sure everyone has their “preferences” but aren’t we all part of the human race? So why single out a particular ethnic/racial group and say you are not into them. Is such beliefs innate? I highly doubt it. Maybe I’m just naïve.
Interestingly, while some gay Londoners are racially adventurous, they also have the “into masculine guys only” thing going for them which I find quite comical. After chatting with some guys on gaydar, I began to realise that, they aren’t really racially adventurous, they just like to exoticise and objectify (very sexually) non white guys. I can’t even begin to tell you how many messages I have received with “hey u okay, do you have a big dick” or “hey nice smile man, you want to fuck me with your big dick” or people unlocking their private pictures (without me asking) and showing me their bums.
While those messages don’t get any responses from me, the messages that appear to be “nice” are some of the worst offenders. For instance, I was messaging one guy for a while and he appeared to be genuine. He was certainly not the most attractive person in the world but he had this nerdish (?) charm to him and and we went on two dates. On both dates, I had a very exciting time as he constantly made me laugh and I could see myself falling for him (which scared me to death as I don’t my guards down easily) but alas after the second date, I didn’t hear back from him and it turns out he wanted us to have sex and I didn’t offer it so he went on to the next dark skinned person who will offer him that (don’t ask me how I found out). Funny thing is I told him I wasn’t looking for sex when we started our chat and he was fine with it…
About two weeks ago I hooked up (don’t judge a boy has needs) with this guy I have been talking to and as we were having sex, he asked me if I wanted to be called the n-word. The look on my face was well indescribable. His argument was that all the “black” guys he has hooked up with liked to be called that. I lost interest and just walked out.
Studying abroad during my 3rd year of university allowed me to know my self worth. Initially, I loved the attention I was receiving because I got almost none back in my university campus in the US. After a while it got boring. While I hated the fact that I was overly sexualized/exoticised, I knew I could land hot guys but the virtue of me having a larger than average phallic organ. And it still bothers me that guys only wanted me for my dick. There is more to me than my dick.
So back to Fanon and the politics of racial exoticisation. I have read countless articles on the sexualisation and stereotypes of the [female] black body. I never really expected to experience it since I have also seen how racist the gay community can be. Being stereotyped/objectified because I am perceived to be hypersexual and have great sexual prowess is wrong on so many levels. I have defined my personhood as a relation to my (colour blind) surrounding only to realize that I am constantly being defined my skin color and the stereotypes that are attached to it.
While I have always dismissed Fanon and his argument, I beginning to realise that he was right all along. My skin complexion was the symbol of sexual brutality and savagery in the days of colonisation and sadly it still is. Interestingly, I had a conversation with a Black British guy who has the same sentiments as me and he told me that the only way I can try to avoid this dilemma is to only go out with people of my own skin complexion. He says he doesn’t go for white guys anymore as there are “fine looking mixed and dark skin bruthas” out there. That way we are both not being sexualised or exoticised. I don’t know if I can just exclusively so out with just non-whtes. Maybe I should try it.
According to Fanon whites will always define a black the “Other”. This black defined Other will never be on the same rank as whites. Having lived in my “warped colour” blind view of the world, this realisation is kind of a huge blow. Now I am thinking that I will forever be plagued with the constant desire to find someone who can see me for me amidst cultures that stereotypes me as a sexual being. This shouldn’t be my raison d’être but I don’t think its going to change anytime soon.
Perhaps, I should jump on this exoticification bandwagon, do some porn and get some money out of it since I will always be regarded as the “great black lover” who can give a hardcore thrust.