In the second half of the 1980s, I was a twenty-something college grad with a decent paying job and a promising career. I was also a lonely man. I’d been single-for-life, not even a whiff of a boyfriend or girlfriend in high school or college.
Adulthood meant a new opportunity to define myself and my search for a life partner. And to have sex! Yes, sex, something else that didn’t come so easily in my youth. And although I hadn’t ruled out the possibility of sex with women, I knew that I wanted sex and love with a man.
By the mid-to-late 80s, the idea of sex and/or love between two men had been narrowly cast into a singular, socially acceptable definition: gay. And so I began to call myself gay. All things considered, it was a marked improvement over the name gay replaced in my innermost thoughts: fag.
“During the phone sex era, I was introduced to My Racist Gay World.”
Subsequently, when I searched for love and sex, not necessarily always in that order, I went to the places frequented by other men who had thrown in with this “whole gay thing.” In the 80s, that meant, among other things, the newfangled 900 and 976 phone sex lines. Rack up an outrageous phone bill all in the name of getting your nut. Or just maybe, meet another man who wants sex and love.
During the phone sex era, I was introduced to My Racist Gay World. All it took to be rejected by the majority of men was to simply tell them: “I’m black.”
Rejection often came in the form of “my fellow gay men” immediately hanging up on me or pressing a system prompt to dismiss me from their lives, usually taking them to the next contestant in the phone sex dating game. All because I revealed: “I’m black.”
“De facto segregation is alive and well in the hearts and minds of many a gay man.”
Look Mama! I can do magic! I can make white men disappear! I just them, “I’m black.”
“You’re black?” some would say, as if to make sure they heard me right. Once my race was confirmed, I was dismissed without another word.
That was My Racist Gay World during the Phone Sex Age in America (circa 1980s-90s). It’s a tale told by many a black gay man of that era.
Two decades later, gay men’s attitudes towards black men seemed to have changed little. Thanks to our digital world, their prejudice and hatred is now preserved in countless online profiles that reveal a truth many black men have suspected for decades: most gay men, regardless of race, are racists.
Log on and behold the evidence: the infinite variations of phrases such as WHITES ONLY, WHITES AND LATINS ONLY, NO BLACKS, NO ASIANS, it’s all there (in ALL CAPS) for anyone to witness, quantify and study. The river of hatred runs deep. De facto segregation is alive and well in the hearts and minds of many a gay man.
Is this America at its best? Is this the best gay men can do?
This is what it’s been like living in My Racist Gay World. I love men of all colors. I love women of all colors. But when I look for anything in the gay world, the responses of the men constantly remind me of the Segregation Era of the last century, the one that supposedly ended around the time I was born (1962).
Who can forget the black and white photos of “colored” people standing outside restaurants, restrooms, schools, businesses, bars, nightclubs, water fountains, all with signs warning: WHITES ONLY, NO BLACKS?
From where I stand, the Segregation Era lives on in the gay world, and this is what it looks:
The Hypocrisy of Gay Civil Rights
Rising Up Over Gay Racism
Dear Queers, Give Black People Blue Jeans!
10 Ways to Get Blacks To Support Gay Marriage
Poll Dancing with Blacks and Gays
Gay Rights and Civil Wrongs
Plus, check out WHITES AND LATINS ONLY, a photo essay using gay men’s online language in images reminiscent of the segregated Old South.