Grindr, sexual racism, and the problem with ‘preference’

'I don’t appreciate being called a racist when I have “a type,” just like so many other people, when it comes to sex and relationships, and it doesn't include black guys.' OK, let's unpack.

Q:

I saw your recent column about someone using the N word, and while I agree with most of it, I was called a racist on Grindr before the guy even knew anything about me! 

His profile said he would not hook up with anyone who says they prefer not to have sex with black men or effeminate men, and I didn’t even get a chance with him. I tried to plead my case, but he called me the R word. I don’t see the problem with having a preference, or how my preferences affect him or us having sex.

Preferring tea over coffee is just preferring tea over coffee. Preferring one race over the other is the same concept: Not racism, just a preference.

Forcing or shaming others, or telling them who they should and shouldn’t be attracted to? That’s facism. 

I don’t appreciate being called a racist when I have “a type,” just like so many other people when it comes to sex and relationships, and it doesn't include black guys.

Dear Problematic:

Preferring one race over another is, in fact, the literal definition of racism. It’s not coffee or tea. It’s not apples vs. oranges. It's people.

Beyond the literal definition of racism, saying you exclusively prefer white guys is about exclusion. You’re telling black and brown ones “don’t even bother.” You are excluding them sight unseen. 

No one is telling you who you should be attracted to. You judge your attraction to white guys individually and include or exclude them individually. You’re excluding an entire group of people collectively, saying they’re all unattractive to you because, well, they all look the same way.

If you’ve never been attracted to a black or brown guy, that doesn’t make you racist. What makes you racist is when your lack of previous attraction guides your future interaction entirely based on race. That’s textbook racism.

The most interesting part of your letter is that you are disappointed that the guy didn’t give you a chance without even seeing you. It shows you how that feels, which is awesome in its irony, but the difference is that he did it based on your character and values, not your face or race.

There's a fine line between preference and prejudice, and you've crossed it by a mile. Every person has physical “types,” but most of us have also veered from them. Maybe you gave a brunette a chance but you "only like blondes."

Writing off entire demographics is shortsighted, rude and bigoted. Knowing what you prefer is one thing; judging on one trait in an entire group of human beings without seeing them is another. Of course, mass exclusion simply means you miss out on some potentially great people.

There's a web page exclusively about this issue. Visit sexualracismsux.com for more information and tips on what we all can do to help end the problem.

A tip for your profile that’s about inclusion instead of exclusion: Try praising things you like instead of profiling things you don’t. You don’t have to announce why you swipe left but promote why you might swipe right.

Then again, if conscious bigotry is motivating you, keep your profile as is – so the rest of us can swipe left on you.

The Q is intended for entertainment purposes and not as professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected]

Illustration by Brad Gibson