This issue is nothing new, but I think it’s important for us to talk about it as much as possible. I am so sick of racism in the gay community. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that it exists because we tend to surround ourselves with friends and colleagues that are aligned with us ideologically.
Recently, I had the displeasure of being reminded of just how racist some gays can be. In this case, it was my own people. I am Armenian, I was born in LA but I am the first generation of my family to be born in America. I grew up with pretty much no other Armenians besides my family and extended family, and have a difficult time relating to my own culture. In the past years, I have tried dating some Armenian men but more than a couple times I have found them to be extremely racist against those that are anything but Armenian. Sometimes they think that because I am Armenian, I must be as ignorant as they are and cool with their racist comments. This includes making fun of people in the same restaurant/place as us and identifying them by skin color. This is the point when I immediately shut them down, read them to filth, and wrap up the date.
Anyway, so I found myself talking casually to another Armenian. The conversation was light and going fine. But given my past experiences, I asked “would you date someone not Armenian?” This was the beginning of the end. He said, “well white and European is ok for hooking up but a boyfriend has to be Armenian.” Already offended by him, I decided to confirm his racism. I asked, “so Black and Asian wouldn’t work right?” to which he responded “right.” Then I went off on him. This particular guy was a more recent transplant from Armenia, having moved to America with his family in 2006. I find that families that immigrate later are, of course, more bonded to their culture and unclear on how their “preferences” are actually racist.
I explained to him that while it’s his right to like and date whomever he chooses, the way he stated his preferences were completely offensive and racist. He did not understand this. He began accusing me of being a “lesser Armenian” because I do not support my own people and he would never want a husband like me. He said that I am suffering the “consequences of my parent’s choices” and that he hopes to find a husband completely unlike me so he can raise his children “the right way” to actually appreciate their culture. What I’m confused about is who wouldn’t want their child to grow up to like all human beings, enough so to fight for them when prompted? What I’m confused about is who wouldn’t want their child to thrive in a universe of many, rather than marinate in the ignorance of their own people?
At any rate, I tried to apologize to him for being accusatory (though I rightfully was) and explain to him what was inappropriate about his statement so he hopefully doesn’t make it in the future. He said “there’s nothing wrong with saying I want an Armenian boyfriend and not a Chinese or Latino one.” I said, well, to an extent – sure, any boyfriend who is not Armenian is naturally going to be anything else. However, to delineate and say “well, white or European guys are good enough to hook up with” evokes a sense that white people are good enough for sex, Armenian people are good enough for love, and any other people are not worthy of me. I said, well “Chinese, Latino, and Black men all have hearts and brains and bodies and penises, so what exactly is it about them other than their color or culture than makes them unworthy to hook up or date you?”
Finally, he resorted to “it’s a preference bro.” The default statement of gays to cover up any ignorant comment at any time. Sure, it’s a preference. A racist preference. And I can’t believe that a gay man has the nerve to have any prejudices against anyone for anything. In this case, Armenians are generally extremely homophobic so he’s being loyal to a culture that probably disagrees with his lifestyle and thinks he’s sinning. And if his family doesn’t, that’s awesome, but for him to turn around and think he can have “preferences” aka prejudices against anyone else is a problem that rubs me the wrong way. Just say you would like to meet an Armenian guy because he best understands your culture and how you were raised. Stop there.
If any of this was offensive to Armenians, I apologize. There are many that are actually awesome, good people but unfortunately, I have ran into many who are not. We all need to be responsible for what we are saying and be better people.