Photography: Chris Jepson www.ChrisJepson.com
When does your preference become racist?
Scott Roberts (@scottjsroberts), former news presenter on Gaydar Radio and editor of Pink News, looks at how sexual racism affects the gay community today.
“No Blacks and no Asians please”. Let me ask you, where have we gone to read such an offensive statement? Are we standing in front of a door sign outside a bed and breakfast or pub in a market town in 1950s Britain? Nope, it’s just a typical comment you can see after a quick trawl through the profiles of guys on several of our most popular gay dating platforms. Yes, welcome to sexual racism in the social -networking era. Racism and homophobia are two forms of prejudice that have been around since the start of modern civilisation, but these days they show up online with far greater prominence than you would expect to find in your average street.
The large number of celebrity cases in the news in the past year (Olympic diver Tom Daley received homophobic tweets during the London 2012 Games and the former footballer Stan Collymore successfully took a law student to court after he was bombarded with racial messages) illustrate the sharp end of malicious, online bigotry. Many people still have not grasped the fact that what you publish online is the same as saying it out loud in a street. This year’s high-profile Twitter ‘troll’ prosecutions may have been a wake-up call for some of the ignorant and also to parts of the establishment.
However, sexual racism, encapsulated by the comments you read at the very beginning, where the author is not seeking to hurt a particular individual, is a more subtle form of stupidity. What does it tells us about our online gay culture if most of us instantly recognise the familiarity of the “no Blacks, no Asians” comment? Of course, everyone is entitled to their own sexual preferences. It would make for a pretty strange world if someone told me who I could and could not fancy – althought that does happen, all too often.
The main reason why I believe sexual racism is wrong is because it promotes the idea that ‘casual’ racism is acceptable. By writing “no Blacks, no Asians” on a profile, a person is basically announcing that they believe these two racial groups of people should be avoided sexually. It is their personal opinion, but when displayed in a public setting it constitutes prejudice, regardless of the context. Society has taken the view that displaying prejudice is wrong. However, the minute we start to compromise with ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ discrimination, the journey to a fully equal society travels in a skewed direction. Rejection is always a difficult thing to deal with, regardless of whether it is racially based or because you are 5ft 7.
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