No one ever told me that sexual racism is also about sexual violence.
Growing up in St. Louis, I learned that racism, if ever discussed, mostly affected black folks. My family, my schools, and our communities discussed race along a black/white binary. I didn’t really know any other Latinos, so I presumed that light-skinned people of color didn’t experience much racism—low melanin and keen features would protect me from hate, judgment, and violence.
Still, I had a pretty rough childhood, and my interracial parents were in a violent marriage. At 10 years old, I would witness my Mexican mom being chased around the house by my alcoholic white father. During arguments, he’d often threaten to kill her father, calling my grandpa a “dirty old spic,” and then proceed to beat us in our home when we talked back. Our suburban white neighbors would congregate at night and watch us through their blinds when the cops arrived, their police lights illuminating our entire block. We were clearly different, and these jarring moments contradicted my parents’ pretense of seeming “normal.”
As a teen, I became homeless shortly after coming out. Kicked out of my private high school, I left my all-white world to live in shelters full of youth of color and bounced around to different people who offered to take me in. I started growing conscious of a different way to understand racism.
Sexual racism kept me alive and relatively safe, while my new friends—homeless, gay, black teenage boys—disappeared into cars and alleys. They were forced to use their bodies to make $5, $10, or $50 for handjobs, blowjobs, and sex with wealthy white men who would travel in from the suburbs to prey on their vulnerable bodies at the 24-hour Coffee Cartel. This harsh new world created a dangerous fantasy for young boys of color—that sex and the potential promise of white love could keep us safe.
As an adult, I’ve navigated gay communities looking for friendship, family, and love. I’ve met many amazing people, but there’s still this ingrained idea that my worth is determined by the level of interest a white man shows me. These men, their profiles declaring “No Blacks, No Fems, No Fats,” remind me that I’m not enough—and I’ve learned that I am only worthy when they reply back.
On November 9, 2016, another reality sunk in: President Donald Trump.
Since the election, I’ve changed my social media apps to a profile pic declaring “White Dick Not Welcomed.” Many white men have messaged me with unsolicited questions or statements—ranging from distancing themselves from other white people to outright anger. I wonder if these same men message their peers to challenge them on why they actively exclude in their profiles.
The most sobering experience occurred only three hours after I uploaded my prohibitive pic, when a white man declared me unworthy and called me the N word. I guess he assumed since my race was listed on Grindr as “mixed” that I must be black. I can only guess as to the type of reality black queer people have experienced and will continue to in this new era.
There is a growing conversation on social media from LGBTQ people of color, calling for us to stop seeking white love. One of my outspoken friends put it best: “We need to shut down our own borders, baby. We need to close up our bussies and not let inside us white men who want to see our demise.”
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