Ok... it's a stretch. No, Barack Obama does not have 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.
It'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.
Now 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.