Jason Tseng

Mr. Gay.com, Barack Obama, and sexual racism

Filed By Jason Tseng | December 11, 2008 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Andrew Roberts, Barack Obama, gay.com, Mr., racism, sexual racism

Ok... it's a stretch. No, Barack Obama does not Andrew Robertshave a gay.com profile (I'll leave that to Mark Foley and other closeted Republicans), but I was surprised and pleased to discover that the recently crowned Mr. Gay.com is Andrew Roberts: a third year Indiana med student, adopted, gay Asian man. Now, it's pretty easy to see why Roberts cinched the title, he's physically stunning, is smart (if his myspace page can be counted as reliable... magna cum laude from Notre Dame, not too shabby!), and from his personal statement, and interested in public service and the betterment of the LGBT community. But what surprised me, is that Mr. Gay.com, like our President-elect, seems to have transcended the color-barrier.

Now, I've written in the past about sexual racism in the gay community, the white-washing of the gay experience, and a racial sexual hierarchy and how all these forces work in conjunction to systematically disenfranchise queer non-white men in love, sex, and participation in larger gay political discourse. Nevertheless, I was genuinely surprised and proud to see Mr. Roberts proclaimed as Gay.com's new "It" guy.

andrew.jpgIt's pretty fair to say that Asian men, both straight and gay, get shafted (or rather, they don't... which I suppose is the problem) when it comes to romance, sex, and love. There have been repeated studies done on how race effects dating habits, and again and again the emasculation and effeminization of Asian men works to their detriment: limiting their prospective partners, modifying their behavior (often either conforming to expectations of softness or sensitivity, or rebelling by investing in a hyper-masculine performance).

A study done at Duke University showed that Asian men had the least mobility in dating, primarily confined to dating Asian women. The same study showed that Asian women had relatively little impediments in regards to interracial dating. A similar study done at Columbia University, which gleaned its results from thousands of speed-dating participants also consistently marked Asian men as the least desirable amongst the men (with white men characterized as most desirable).

This information is compounded with a recent report coming out of the University of Toronto which found that gay men who are considered undesirable are more likely to engage in riskier sexual behavior.

"I found that young, white, middle-class men are considered much more sexually desirable than men who are racial minorities, over 40 and poor," Green said in a statement. "I also learned that for gay men, being considered sexually undesirable can have serious health consequences, ranging from psychological issues to risky sexual behavior."

Gay Asian men often find themselves trapped between fetishists and stigmatization from their gay peers. It is little wonder why gay Asian men would be more likely to be content with or even seek out risky sexual activity given the matter-of-fact way they are discarded in many circles. With the recent knowledge that the spread of HIV is on the rise, and has reached meteoric infection rates amongst men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSMs) in Asia, it becomes clear that sexual racism not only damages gay Asian men psychologically, but biologically. It is killing us... literally.

Mr. Gay.comNow coming back to Andrew Roberts and his hot self... while I commend him on his win and prominent position within this for-good-or-ill mainstay institution in the gay community, and recognize the significance of an Asian man being selected as the paragon of the gay internet social networking and personals culture, I offer up a word of caution in declaring the war on sexual racism won. Just as I was disturbed by newspaper headlines like "Obama Elected President as Racial Barrier Falls," which heralded Obama's historical win and hinted at the alleged death of racism in America, I would encourage all of us to celebrate in these milestones, but keep sight of the problems which still plague our society.

And yes, I did just compare Barack Obama to Gay.com.


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I recall a similar discussion going on at GayGamer.net's fora. While I wouldn't call it a racist sexual discrimination (What about those who prefer blondes over brunettes? Men with short hair over ones with long hair?), I do see how minorities can become disfranchised with a culture that values White European traits over others.

Personally, I think it's not reprehensible that a person is more sexually attracted to one race over another; sexual attraction is incredibly complex. What I do find reprehensible is a cognizant approach to censor/filter minorities out in the participation of cultural sexuality. And this I have noticed not only with race, but also with gender expression, nationality (having an accent already puts you in a show freak position within gay circles, where the only acceptable accent is the sissling effeminate urbanite type), region (urban gays are a bunch of bigoted motherfuckers when it comes to people with Southern/Midwestern accents, making assumptions about intellect and whatnot).

I am still uncertain as to how we can go about in shaping concepts of beauty to be more diverse.


Anyways, he is GORGEOUS. I will admit, besides redheads (I am seriously obsessed with redheads; I want a fucking leprechaun), cute Asian men can be rather enticing.

There's a difference between criterium that dictact or adjust a person sexual attraction (blond v. brun, long hair v short hair), and wholesale disqualification of an entire class of people. But you're right Lucrece, there are definitely other modes of difference (like class, geopolitical origin, gender performance) that also result in similar patterns of disenfranchisement and undesirable status.

I actually think your point strengthens the argument that there is a historic hegemony of white, middle and upper class urban gay men which live at the center of this panopticon of gay desire; in which those relegated to the outer spheres (racial minorities, the poor, the aged, the femme) are afflicted with riskier sexual activity, less visibility, greater economic obstacles, and disidentification with the central community to which they cleave.

And while I acknowledge that often times these criterium on which we judge beauty or attraction are hard wired into our system, I also believe that many of these traits are learned. This was a personal step that I had to undergo, understanding that the modes on which i judged beauty were fundamentally limited by my socialization. I actively took it upon myself to challenge these assumptions of beauty which were heavily racialized and reach a greater, more diverse appreciation for human beauty.

Equality is hard and i feel is contrary to human nature. I just don't think it's a viable argument to just say "sorry, I'm just wired that way" without having made an effort. And that's not to say that to be an equal opportunity lover you have to find every single person of color attractive... absolutely not. But stop and think: do some classes of people have to work harder or be more attractive than others? If so, then it's a safe bet to say that you might be contributing to the problem.

so to make short of it Lucrece, I essentially agree with you.

Adding to that, I find often that it's not race itself that is discriminated against, but the common traits. That is, if you're a black man ala Warrick Brown from CSI (fairly soft facial features, green eyes, very Caucasian), you won't find the same troubles as a black man of less White European-associated features.

Take for example, Jewish men. They're White for the most part, and yet not very well-received either. Big noses are not ideal, as other common ethnic traits. In that way, I think the crafting of attraction goes beyond sexual racism. It actually fosters the supremacy of a few traits regardless of race.

The issue here is acclimation. People get adjusted to different ideals of beauty. That is, they grow with a certain concept of it. I'm fairly sure Hindu women find their men very attractive; and yet, such features are not so well-appreciated in our society. It results in attraction within the concept of what you grow used to seeing as beautiful.

I suppose one way to go about approaching this problem is by decreasing isolationism. Our society still functions in a very segregated manner. It's not just whites, but also blacks who seek other blacks. In my university? I used to see Asians mainly hanging with Asians, particularly each person associating with a person of the same nationality/mother tongue. In this way, I feel the identity of being American has failed. Many groups, while still living in America, remain insular because being American means very little to them. My mother, who's Venezuelan, does not consider herself American despite having citizenship for over 5 years. She sees an uncrossable cultural gap, and I feel this is not a scenario confined to her.

What I do see, however, is that societies where racial/ethnic/cultural tensions have largely dispersed usually tend to exhibit more cohesion based on national identity instead of belonging to a subculture. I will also note that despite our community's ills with sexual preferences, the gay community still does a far better job in terms of interracial coupling numbers. I see far more interracial gay couples than I see straight ones, to be honest. That alone gives me hope that at least our community will move at a faster pace in terms of finding a solution/transitioning to more flexible identity structures for being LGBT.

It says a lot that people feel the need to include or exclude potential partners on the basis of race. I, too, find myself having to navigate through a romantic landscape of fetishism and stigmatization. That is why seeing Mr. Roberts crowned Mr. Gay.com is such a nice change of pace.


Oh, and listing a preference for blondes or brunettes is decidedly different from requesting that no blacks, no asians, no whites, etc contact you.

Explain that difference. Hair color can be as much part of your identity and genetically-influenced as race.

You tell that to many redhead Irishmen I've met that have expressed how they feel disadvantaged because of their hair color, let alone skin tone and freckles.

Really? I remember seancody.com had an ad up for a long while saying that they were looking for redheads because there was such high demand....

Not that I would know. I was just thinking about it because of all the talk of sexual racism, which they participate in.

I will let them know that at least they're wanted on porn sites~

I have no problem with red heads, Lucrese. I'm perfectly willing to take one for the team. Since you're also down with the leprechaun love, maybe we could go scouting together. First to the end of the rainbow wins? *grins*

Seriously - I've never understood why Asians always make the "No XYZ" list. While I know it's just a matter of personal taste, I've always thought Asian men were usually the hottest. I tend to like guys with dark hair, dark eyes, not a lot of body hair and shorter than me. It's a perfect match quite often.

And let me say - he's a med student, he's that f--king hot, AND he's in Indiana? Road trip!

We'll go on a hunting spree! I'll definitely be scoring me some pot o' gold~

One's hair color doesn't matter when their entire race is excluded from any romantic interest. you can't really excuse sexual racism. When I see it, in any form, on a person's profile, it is a huge red flag.

One entire race, one entire sector of people with a particular hair color. See where I'm going? Or are you actually arguing that an action is worse if it affects more people?

c'mon. hair color can be changed. for the most part, it's an innocuous preference. one cannot say the same thing about race.

I'm saying that it is not okay to discriminate based on race. what are you saying, Lucrece?

Hair color can be changed. Jackson changed his skin tone, too. The point is, some people consider their traits to be intrinsic to who they are, and it shouldn't fall for others to make judgements about what does and does not qualify as sexual discrimination. Regardless of whether it be race or not, if it is part of who you are, you shouldn't feel pressured to seek change.

That's the ideal. However, it's quite another thing to enforce it, or whether it actually should be enforced.

This is not just about individual traits. It's also about the psychology that informs discrimination, especially modes of thought that result from stereotypes. Mr. Tseng cites the emasculation and effeminization of Asian men as a cause, and I can point to my race's (black) criminalization and perceived hypersexuality.

Equating sexual racism with other forms of discrimination diminishes the powerful hold that it has on the gay community. I agree that no one should feel the need to change, but I get the feeling that you don't believe sexual racism exists. Am I wrong?

Sexual discrimination based on race exists. What appalls me is that you would push a monopoly of certain categories over others. As if one discrimination is worse than another; because if more forms are recognized, then race loses its spotlight as the poster issue of sexual discrimination. This screams of the same scenario of infighting among minorities within the Democrats for who shall be The Minority (TM). Not one form should be acceptable, and one shouldn't go telling others that one's discrimination is more hurtful than theirs.

There are forms of discrimination that are worse than others. That reasoning is why i believe in hate crimes legislation and affirmative action. Some groups need added protection, due to their minority status and historical oppresion. I'm sorry that appalls you.

UGH!! I'm a redhead, it sucks. Objectification is never a winning strategy for relationships, sexual or otherwise.

Wah, wah, they're objectifying me *sniff sniff*!

Get over it, it just means they're more inclined to fuck you. Just because someone thinks of you sexually does not mean that doing so prevents them from ever appreciating your personal qualities. It is naive, however, to expect people to approach you for a relationship just because of what a marvelous person you must be. We are sexual animals, however much puritanical views ingrained upon you dislike it. Why do you go on a date? Obviously because it's a person you find interesting and also very provocative to fuck. Should the sexual objectification not be there, it just would boil down to friendship.

Good on you for writing this!

The whole "Asian fetish" phenomenon among gay men (and not just white gay men; I've known black "rice queens" as well) has always rubbed me the wrong way, and I'm saying that as a white guy. It's like falling in love with the stereotype instead of the person. And don't even get me started on the "Not into [insert race here]" bullshit...

Racialicious ( www.racialicious.com ) had a piece on race and online dating sites 12/9-10/08 or so.

Science geek pride!

Although he does fall into the same young, lots of muscles, lean, hairless look that's prized so much. Can't we get over that as well?

I doubt it. Since it is physically possible for everyone to look like that (no matter the other barriers that stand in some people's ways), gay men will keep on justifying their lust for that one look by saying that it's an ideal, it's a preference, anyone can do it if they just really tried.

There's a whole lot of meanness in these online communities (gay.com isn't the worst, but it's pretty bad) when it comes to these folks who don't have the look. There's a lot of entitlement to other people's bodies, and these folks could be cruel. I hadn't heard of this contest before, but it doesn't surprise me that they'd set one up. It can't all just be about rejecting anyone who doesn't meet your ideal - you have to pronounce the ideal sometimes too!

before I just leave a comment that's a bit bitchy, congrats to Andrew and this is better than just nominating another white person with the exact same body.

And gay.com can be fun if you keep your sense of humor. It's a ridiculous endeavor, and there's nothing wrong with that.

A-MAZING ABS!!! DAMN GINA! Jealous!

I am white and currently dating an asian man and could not be happier. He is kind, sincere, thoughful, passionate and very caring. He is one of the nicest men I have ever met in my entire life. When I look at his beautiful smile I don't see an asian but a man of character who happens to be asian. I could't be happier or feel more lucky to be with him.

I left the comment at 9:36 am. Because I would like to remain anonymous, I am respectfully requesting you change my first name to my middle name of sean. I really appreciate it. I love your reports, keep up the good work. thanks

Ed Note: Sean, consider it done. I also changed it on this comment too.

the sexual racism is not a new thing. people of color experience that routinely in either camp hetero and homo camps. especially when in mixed race situations. some of it is what you are exposed to when young on TV advertising etc. IN the 60's there were no HOTTIE asians exemplified, not many Hot African Americans exemplified, Hispanics either etc.
what you seen in advertising now is the same majority Caucasoid folks being projected as hot stunning, good looking good to be with, with some other thrown in for good measure. In the various ethnic communities they have their sexy people but in general the advertisers still show the white man or woman as the example of what you want for bed. every once and a while an interracial thing is thrown up and even in shows it is that way. Our social conditioning is based on what other people let you see. and advertising dollars and written dollars for shows still follow that norm.\

It is not love people for who they are it is show what I want you to see and emulate. It still works they still have folks buying the brands etc which show that but campaigns are put in front of you and you get it in your head that that is good for you. Until you step out of your zone of comfort. Some folks never do and they let you know in no uncertain terms rude though they may be that this is how I am wired sorry as pathetic as it is. You have to work not to condition yourself to that or uncondition yourself from that.

To see a person as not being your characteristics as being HOT. Gay.com is a place where that is rampant most of the HOT guys are Caucasoid. NOT other racially characteristically defined.

when you go to a gay bar you find the same thing. It is up to us to work on our selves and change what we think we like and leave the common place in the dust..

Interesting article, Jason. There really isn't enough said about cross-ethnic dating/relationships. I've found that you learn a lot about your friends when you date outside your own ethnic group.

The fetish thing is a bit troubling though. It's creepy to watch I can only imagine what it's like to be on the receiving end.

Speaking of Barack Obama: LONG LIVE EMPEROR OBAMA!

Obama is a racial-minority individual and does not like racism:

There is bad news about George Herbert Walker Bush.

What if basically all racial-minority people would subscribe to the interpretations that George Herbert Walker Bush committed monstrous, racist, hate crimes while he was the President of the United States?

It will eventually come out: it is only a matter of time.

Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang, J.D. Candidate
B.S., With the Highest Level of Academic Honors at Graduation, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

(I can type 90 words per minute, and there are thousands of copies on the Internet indicating the content of this post. And there are at least hundreds of copies in very many countries around the world.)
_________________
“If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Off the top of my head—it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

I would like to commend this from a different point of view. From my own experience, it is impossible to stop sexual racism from internet dating. Most men in the dating site usually have a strong sexual preference. I am giving up teaching people the difference between sexual preference and discrimination/sexual racism. So what am I trying to say here? As an Asian gay man myself, I have gone through pretty tough time. What hurt me the most is the discrimination from the other gay men, my confidence would not be back up for a long time, I have also gone through tough emotional period. As I have grown up, I realised that it is harder to change other people’s opinion about you than changing yourself.
How to change yourself? My advice is: stop the internet dating if it is upsetting you. I used to date other men from internet because I was scared to approach people in real time. Internet dating can damage your social life in a long term, and online guys always talk and look difference from the reality anyway. I found myself much happier now since I stopped internet dating, I have also improved my social skill (which includes how to score a fella). I am getting more and more confidence ever since.
Another advice: We have heard many times that Asians are femme. Change yourself! Go to gym, get active. I go to gym 3 times a week, after 2 years working out, I found myself got much more attention every time I go to club with my boys than I used to be.
Last advice: get support! It is always to talk about your problem to people who are physically and culturally similar to you. Don’t be afraid to make friends with other Asian gay guys, because it is always easier to get support from them.
At last, my advice is not for everyone, some Asian bi guys may not be out to the gay scene which means their only dating path is from internet. Well, what you can do is to mark the profiles which offended you, so you can avoid reading it again. For example, in gaydar.co.uk (famous gay dating site in UK), it gives you the option to rate profile, such as “not my type” “he is hot” “does not like me”. If a profile called xyz upsets you, you can mark it as “not my type”, so the next time when you browse the profiles, you can avoid reading the same profiles which offend you. After a few days, you can avoid all the profiles which contain sexual racism.
Hope my advice will help, keep positive, keep fit, and be safe, avoid the people who upset you rather than arguing with them. Life can be much easier. After all, most people are alright, if you know what I mean. ?