So, is all racism the same? What about reverse racism? Is it the same when an Asian guy says “no whites” or when he says “no Asians.” Should we be offended anytime someone phrases something in the negative?

A white guy who says “No Asians”, an Asian guy who says “No Whites”, an Asian guy who says “No Asians”, a white guy who says “Asians only”. Same? Equal? Different?

It’s tricky business, this racism stuff. And when I talk about the issue with folks, people are always going “well, what about this?” and “what about that?” So, let’s get some thoughts down here on the page and see if I can make some sense.

You say that you don’t want guys on the net to write “No Asians”. What about an Asian guy who writes “No Asians”?

I still think it sucks.

On the other hand, I’m more likely to be disturbed by the white guy who does it because it fits in with a larger picture of systemic racism, sexual and otherwise. He’s more of a perpetrator of that racism. Whereas the Asian guy is probably a bit of a victim because he’s absorbed that racism, and self-hatred.

What about an Asian guy who says he’s only looking for other Asians?

I know that some politicized Asian guys in the USA have gone through phases where they’d rather be with other Asian men or other men of colour as a way of affirming their own identity. A way of saying “I’m proud of who I am and proud enough to actively look for other guys of my own race to date.” They might be tired of dating white guys who don’t understand race issues. I personally try not to limit myself and hope that other people don’t – and I would consider an Asian guy who is only looking for other Asian guys as limiting himself.

What about white guys who are only looking for Asians?

Well, same thing really. It’s a limit. I do have lots of white friends who have preferences for Asian guys, but I do find that when white men are exclusively interested in Asian men (“rice queens”) that there is often (but not always) a bit of stereotyping or exoticization going on. I’m personally kind of uncomfortable with that.

How about HIV positive men looking only for other HIV positive guys?

I’m including discussion of this here because I think it touches upon the reasons why we want to be with each other sexually or emotionally. Sometimes it IS easier to be together with people who have a shared experience. So, some poz friends are going to want to have sex without worrying about infecting someone else, or because they can have unprotected sex that way. Some poz friends are going to want to be with other men who understand what they’ve been through – pretty heavy emotional stuff, and sometimes physical stuff as well. Because of this, I hope that HIV negative guys aren’t offended by seeing an ad that says “HIV positive guys only.” I don’t really agree with a sense of entitlement that we should be able to have sex with anyone we want to at all times (in yer dreams, mate!).

But why is it bad then for HIV negative men to want to only be with other HIV negative men?

Because I think it’s less thought through, and that it’s probably based on prejudices and fears and misunderstandings on what it is like to be HIV positive right now. There is a difference between wanting to be with other people to share an experience of difficulty than because you share privilege. We get together at gay dance parties and events to celebrate who we are, and because we’ve been through a lot of crap. Straight people don’t need to do this, and I would find it offensive for people to have a event that explicitly celebrated heterosexuality. Because most events do anyways!

Aren’t you getting off topic?

I don’t think so.

So is it bad for white men to want to have sex with other white men?

I think so. I think it’s a limitation. And I’d want to turn the question and say, why would white men want to have sex with only white men? Do you really think this is just about “personal preference” and is free from all the things that society tells us – all the racist things. Recent newstory – the study of little kids playing with dolls, and neither the white kids nor the brown kids wanted to play with the brown dolls. One of the little kids said something like “Yuck! Get that away from me.” We learn lessons pretty early on. What lessons are we still carrying with us?

Oh, that’s ridiculous. Is this racism as bad as you say it is? My friends aren’t racist. In fact, they like having sex with men who aren’t white.

Well, that’s great. People’s experiences of whether a gay community or gay people are racists are very different. I would propose, however, that people who aren’t white are going to notice different things. And that their opinions should be respected.

Is it worse to see “no whites” or “no asians” on an internet dating site?

I do think that in cities like Sydney that it would really unusual to see an ad that says “no whites”. And even if there was an ad like that, it wouldn’t contribute to an overall atmosphere of racism. It doesn’t feed into it, like the phrase “no asians” which makes the general community more accepting of casual racism. However, it would be different in an Asian city like Singapore or Tokyo to read this, and a white guy reading that over there would probably feel a great deal of hurt too.

I was chatting to my pal Tim and getting quite overzealous and pleased with myself about making the above differentiation – that one form of racism can be worse than the other in a certain context. And then he needed to point out to me that even so, both forms are racism and both are bad. And he’s right.

Why are you talking to yourself?

Hmm. Good question. Anyone else got something to say?

(from April 2003)

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