Looking for Love (In All the Wrong Races)

Boy, boys, all type of boys. Black, White, Puerto Rican, Chinese boys…
– Missy Elliott: Work It

When I was in first grade I had three best friends:

One was Black.
One was White.
And the other was half Chinese and half Puerto Rican.

From a very young age, I have been exposed to other races/ethnicities. As I grew older and began to explore my sexual desires this openness has continued.

It has become painfully clear dating over the last ten years I am the exception and not the rule.

The first boy I ever kissed was Jamaican, but overall I was never masculine enough for the other Black boys (again, I didn’t know the cues so it was hard bonding with them). The White boys didn’t pay attention to me because I was Black (racism). There weren’t many Asians in my neighborhood so that was a non-issue. I am primarily attracted to Latinos because that’s who accepted me for who I was (androgyny and all) during my formative years of sexual socialization. Although my truth is I don’t have a type (friends disagree with me about this all the time), I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge it’s easier for me to relate to Latinos, especially those from Central America (although it varies by country). But I never seek anyone out/disregard someone solely because of their race/ethnicity.

I have my prejudices and experiences just like everyone else, but in general when I meet someone I don’t have expectations based on their race/ethnicity. This objectivity/reflexivity is a learned trait. Most of us don’t realize how our beliefs and perceptions about people from different racial groups inform our sexual experiences (within our own race and with different racial groups).

This is what I study for a living. In the research we call it sexual partnering and sexual stereotyping. Dr. Patrick Wilson, a psychologist at Columbia University (and co.) recently published a paper that sums up the state of gay dating pretty well (full citation below). For now, let me give you the short version of the story:

The White guys were primarily attracted to Latinos.
The Black guys were primarily attracted to other Blacks and Latinos.
The Latinos were attracted to their own or White guys.
And Asians were primarily attracted to White guys.

I made a handy little graphic to help explain the results. (see Figure 1.)

gay dating.jpg

Now this study involved a racially diverse sample of men who use the Internet to engage in bareback (raw) sex with other men in the New York City area, but I would argue this is the case for most major US cities.

There’s a lot going on here (ie. access, isolation, self-hatred, etc.) but on a superficial level (call me naive), but I really didn’t realize how segregated we still are! Having friends/lovers from different races (let alone age, country of origin, etc.) has just been my experience and is second nature to me. Notice the only two way street is between Whites and Latinos. So theoretically, interracial pairing outside of that is hard to come by (ie. Blacks with Asians).

I usually meet a guy, see him as a human being and try to get to know him as an individual and go from there. Silly, privileged me! I’ve been going about this all wrong. According to the research, I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong races.

[Citation]

Wilson, P. A., Valera, P., Ventuneac, A., Balan, I., Rowe, M., & Carballo-Diéguez, A. “Race-based sexual stereotyping and sexual partnering among men who use the Internet to identify other men for bareback sex” Journal of Sex Research [Epub ahead of print] 2009

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