In my new interview series #SpillSesh, I aim to bring you stories and issues from the LGBTQ+ community that matter. No celebrities, no influencers, just real people discussing real issues in their lives. I hope that as these stories are read and shared, we can start impacting some serious change in our community. In our first #SpillSesh, we hear from TPG follower Brice (@celestialflute) and the difficulties he faces as a gay Black man when dating. The inspiration for this interview came from Brice commenting on one of my dating posts and how it didn’t represent his personal experience. I look forward to hearing from more of you for future #SpillSesh interviews!
- Tell me a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? What do you do for work?
I am a 28 year-old gay man. I identify as both an African and Native American. I was born in Oklahoma, but grew up in upstate New York. Currently I am a full time doctoral teaching assistant in Colorado.
- Are you currently single? Do you typically date a lot, or are you looking for a LTR?
I am single. I am definitely looking for a LTR. I have dreamt since I was a young boy that one day I would find a partner and get married. I have gone on many dates. I guess that comes with the territory of being a gay man. I cannot say that I have “dated” a lot of men, which implies something serious. By something serious, I mean frequent communication, spending significant time with one another, introducing him to friends and or family, etc. I am always in search of a meaningful and beautiful connection. I am often discouraged when I find myself on many dates, mostly because the men I have encountered did not remain in my life for more than one to a few dates. I have a running joke with friends, if a man sticks around longer than two weeks, that’s really saying something – he’s a potential keeper!
- How do you typically meet guys? Through other people/dating apps/bars/life?
I have not had many opportunities to meet men through friends or through school functions, parties, etc. I would be up for it, it just does not seem to be the way I have seen gay men meet too often…and frankly, that has never worked well for me. For whatever reason, I have only had success on dating apps. I think many would agree that dating apps are much easier, because the sting of rejection is less embarrassing.
- In your opinion, what’s the most frustrating aspect of dating as a Black gay man?
My first fear is ALWAYS, will men dismiss me because of my color. I cannot even say rejection simply comes from one’s race alone. Being Black is not a race. And I guarantee that I will get shit for this, but I identify my color as brown, because THAT is my color. Contrary to many beliefs, African American people encompass the entire spectrum of skin color, so let’s get that straight and out in the open! Depending where your skin lies on the spectrum of light to dark, in many cases lighter to white skinned people are viewed as the most beautiful and dateable. I cannot speak for other races, but as an African American, we have been depicted in the worst of ways in movies, books, TV…you name it! Those stereotypes trickle to how people perceive us and expect us to act.
Another frustrating reoccurrence going on in the gay dating scene is the attraction to only thug-like men or very feminine men. That comes from the media, due to Hollywood preferring to cast black men as tough ripped thugs to the flaming queens we see on “Paris is Burning” or RuPaul. Thug men are wonderful and so are the queens, but I cannot help but question how much longer it will be before an African American man that does not identify as either will stop falling through the cracks of being socially accepted and or viewed as not dateable.
- What is the most insulting thing you’ve been asked or told as a gay Black man?
Comments on a date or dating app:
- Stupid Nigger
- Never been pounded by a Nigger before.
- Your color will be a problem at this university and in this town.
- You’re making up that Black people are treated differently and discriminated against.
- You’re only good for sex.
- So tell me, are you just Black or what?
- I see you have jungle fever (a comment to the guy I was seeing).
Outside the dating context:
- There’s nothing wrong with you, except that you’re Black.
- You know, I don’t think I could ever date a Black guy.
- I don’t talk to Black people (from another gay Black man).
- There’s only enough room for one blackie here (from another gay Black man).
- You will get AIDS and die.
- Your color is a curse.
- I see many dating profiles of Black men that explicitly say “I am not your fetish.” Can you tell us how frequently this is an issue in your experience?
This has been solely my experience and the experience I have heard other African American men speak about. There is no data to my knowledge proving this to be true. I would also like to say I am not pointing any fingers, but only sharing what myself and others have faced: If men are attracted to Black men, often it is not because they truly like him. There is some kind exoticism they are trying to get out of their system. “You must have a huge BBC or huge ass or big lips, athletic, great in bed…” Black men are treated as though they are some Olympic event that needs to be conquered. Once the partner gets his feel, he drops the Black man in favor of someone that looks like himself, and who is also more apt to receive less criticism from friends and family. On a dating app, I would say 95% or more this has been my experience.
- Do you think racism in the LGBT dating community varies geographically?
Answer: In America, I do not. It is everywhere you go. It’s just that in the larger cities there are more people, which offer a better chance to find a mate. The same hateful comments are everywhere. There are not enough accolades and or muscles an African American man can have to deter racism.
- Do you think other races have certain expectations of dating Black men? What are some of these stereotypes?
Well, there are expectations of Black men. In my experience, the dominating hyper- masculinity type of person is valued most. Once again, We often are boxed in the category of “feminine like RuPaul or a thug.” Men who don’t fall within those two dynamics often find themselves swimming in confusion to why they are not accepted and valued. Take a look at TV, or perhaps a “flick” and see how African American men are depicted. This is no mystery.
I must say though, I have met some men who are open to getting to know me for me, regardless of my race. However, I still have much pain from the past for being dismissed for it alone. It is not something that one just overcomes. I’ve gone through extensive counseling because of the self-worthlessness rejection has caused me to feel. Multiple rejections really affect our mental state. We need to seek counseling. There was a study done some time ago comparing the similar levels trauma of gay men face to that of rape victims or war veterans etc. Heart breaking. There is a reason suicide is so prevalent.
- If you had every man who has disrespected you when dating in an audience in front of you, what might you say to them?
Just reading this question makes me emotional. I’d break down and cry. I’d ask what could I have done better to be loved. I’d also ask why they found it difficult to open up and communicate exactly what they were feeling until it was too late. I would also feel extremely embarrassed to see all of my failures staring straight at me.
Coming out as gay to a family that did not support me was excruciatingly painful. Gathering enough courage to love myself and then approach the dating scene, only to be told over and again “Sorry you’re not good enough,” shattered me. Too many times I ended up in counseling or wanting to end my life because being a talented straight-A student, successful, very physically fit, attractive and kind was simply not good enough because of my color. “You’re such a wonderful person, but I cannot be romantically involved with you. We can be friends.” I’m sure every gay man can attest to how much the “friend-zoning” from a once potential lover crushes us to pieces.
- Do you think Black men ever discriminate against other Black men in the gay dating scene?
Without a doubt! In my experience, Black men are so sick of being discriminated against that they want to “climb the totem poll,” if you will, by dating lighter skinned men, particularly white guys. It can be viewed as a “double negative” to see two Black men together…two Black GAY men together. Again, in my experience, some Black women tend to get upset because they feel like they are losing all of the good Black men (that’s another huge issue). I’ve seen first hand, some Black churches that pretty much push us away, even our families more often than not may push us away or put extreme pressures on us.
Some people assume that gay Black men have HIV and or AIDS because statistics say we are more susceptible due to our smaller sexual dating pool, and people for some reason have fear when they see a group of Black people. So YES, Black men discriminate heavily of one another because they don’t want to receive double the poor treatment they have gotten and are receiving on a DAILY basis. I would like to address that interracial couples receive criticism too. I love interracial couples. They are so beautiful to me, but in hearing some comments from strangers, I at one time had been made to feel that dating the same race is a problem and dating different race is also a problem.
- What would be your ideal way of being approached on a dating app? What about in person at a bar or coffee shop?
A kind gesture, really. “Hello, how are you?” A smile. Would you believe there are men who block me because I text with complete sentences? Geez!
At a coffee shop? – Assuming we had already met on an app, a hello, smile and perhaps a hug would be lovely. Being approached without prior conversation is a rarity because there is a fear of rejection or even the fear of approaching and assuming a straight man is gay.
- What are your ideal qualities in your perfect mate?
I don’t believe in perfection. Some ideal qualities would be: loyalty to me, a love for laughter and smiling, respectful and loving to his family, open-minded, success- driven, educated, a desire to travel and effort to be healthy and physically fit. A man that knows he and I are not perfect, but together we will work on becoming the best possible us that we can be. I’d love that.
- Do you think there’s a solution to racism in the LGBT dating scene? What are 1-2 things everyone can be doing that can help out?
I do not. Hell, we have PrEP and in MANY cases that has only encouraged men to be riskier than ever under the umbrella that “I’m on PrEP, so you’re safe…” Ignorance is real.
Ways to help?
Learn your gay history! Get educated on the milestones LGBT people fought and gave their lives to achieve. We as a whole can be so uneducated. Have we not suffered enough? Sex is easy. Education demands responsibility! Perhaps if more gay men knew their history, they could better empathize with the struggles gay minorities face and treat us with more kindness.
Do not fall into the “that’s just my preference” stereotype men have become accustomed to. Preferences are fine, hatred and ignorance are not. Ask yourself why you have a preference. Just in my experience, the older men get, the less sexual preferences they tend to have. Why? Perhaps a large part of the gay community is consumed with vanity, where physical attractiveness is most important. When a man gets older, somehow a race, image and career fixation turns into needing true love. It could be that as he ages, his looks deteriorate and less options for mating are available. My question to men are, do you love the image of a guy that makes you look perfect or do you love the fact that you both can fully enrich one another’s lives? Think about it!
- Any Additional Thoughts?:
I cannot stress how important it is to have a family that loves and supports you. So many Black families don’t support their gay sons and daughters. Unfortunately, in my experience and the experiences I have heard from other minorities, the gay community has not been much better, if better at all. I’ve even worked for LGBT inclusion groups and was STILL ignored and or felt shunned. What’s there to live for if no one gives a fuck about you? We all need a strong support system. If you cannot find it in your family, make true friends that love and care for you. I would not be on this Earth today without my loving friends who are the best family I have ever had. You know who you are!