“It’s just a preference” is an excuse regularly seen on gay dating apps.
And while phrases like ‘no fats, no femmes, no asians’ have been co-opted to parody the elitist cis gay white men who use them, the discriminatory and exclusionary sentiments that lie behind them persist within the community.
But can a person really have a ‘preference’ for a certain race? Or is it just flat out discrimination?
That’s the question posed in a new episode of MTV’s web series Decoded, where writer and performer Dylan Marron uses his charismatic wit and penchant for social justice to highlight the negative side of gay dating apps.
“While we know racism on dating apps impacts people of all sexualities and gender expressions, I can tell you that this is a particular problem among gay men,” he explains in the video.
“Even though gay men themselves belong to a marginalised community, they can, and often do, perpetuate the oppression of others.”
Dylan cites a recent survey that found two thirds of gay men who identify as black, asian, or mixed race had experienced racism on gay dating apps, and explains that the idea of ‘preferences’ is a result of structural racism.
“Preferences are shaped by learned values,” he continues. “When you’re judging a person based solely on their racial background, you’re acting on generalisations you’ve learned to associate with that person’s appearance or heritage.
“You can’t say its their personality because you’ve shut them down before you even got to know them.
“The thing is, we’re not born with pre-conceived notions about race, much like we’re not born with political preferences, religious beliefs, or naturally winning smiles.
“We actually learn how to define what is attractive from those around us, and because we’re raised within a framework of Western beauty standards, society often characterises non-white features as different or unattractive.”
Dylan also explains that doing the opposite – specifically seeking out people of a certain race – is just as problematic because it “reduces people to social stereotypes” and assumes that white is the standard race.
Watch the video below.