Why Black Gay Men are Likely to Date Interracially

Posted by Sidney, 20 Mar

Race in the gay community is a complex issue.  Despite the fact that gay men as a whole are constantly fighting for acceptance, visibility and equal rights, that struggle doesn’t stop them from writing “no chocolate” on their Grindr and Scruff profiles.  Gay black men find themselves in an especially complicated place.  When they cross over to “the other side” and date outside of their race, they find themselves vilified by other gay black men while tripping through a minefield of cultural differences.  At times, it can seem so difficult that it’s not worth the trouble.  Yet roughly a third of all gay male relationships are interracial (according to a 2015 article in The Guardian).  For some reason, gay black men keep ending up with men who aren’t black.  Why?

There are some superficial reasons.  The G-List Society took the liberty of breaking down the types of men who end up as one-half of an interracial pair.  Among them, the article reasoned that these gay black men were searching for a come-up, distancing themselves from other black gays to fit in with a different social circle or came from an upbringing with very few people of color.  While this article might be on to something, the reasoning is deeper.

When we think about the black community, there’s a deep sense of homophobia that’s rooted in a Christian foundation. The 2015 documentary Holler If Your Hear Me explored this conflict in depth.  Many young black gay men grow up as outcasts in their own neighborhoods or households because they have some “sugar in the tank”.  This had led to a culture of “down low brothers” who only accept their true selves in the dark.  Subconsciously, gay black men associate this homophobia with all black people.  Dating another black man is a reminder of that past.  Dating a white or Hispanic man offers an opportunity to focus on the relationship without all the racial baggage.

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For some black gay men, their involvement in interracial relationships is more about freedom.  By simply being gay, they’ve already abandoned the hypermasculine, alpha male expectations of the community.  If they’ve already shattered one of the biggest taboos, why not keep going?  Why not further crack that pink ceiling?  Making the decision to fully embrace their true sexuality is a freeing step—one that renders the opinions of others useless.  Dating a white man doesn’t seem so foreign when you make your own rules.

However, some black gay men might be victims of the pervading imagery in the gay community.  Whether it’s a flyer for a club, the cover of Attitude magazine or a new reality show on Logo, the public image of the gay community is almost always white (and ripped and shirtless).  When that’s what you see at every turn, you start to think that’s the only option.  That’s what you’re supposed to love or that’s who you’re supposed to date to be accepted.

Interracial dating for black gay men is about so much more than trying something new or expanding their view of the world.  It’s about reconciling their identities with the expectations of the black and gay communities.  It’s about forging their own paths.  It’s about eventually finding love beyond labels.

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