The more things change, the more things remain the same. Two hundred years ago, 100% of white Americans feared black people. What’s the rate down to nowadays? 46%? 36%? Or am I dreaming through multi-racial-colored glasses?
I first realized what blacks meant to white Americans while watching the violent images on TV in the 1960s: white men using dogs, fire hoses and bloodshed to keep black people out of their lives. I was no more than a child of five years old, six years old, seven years old, eight years old.
The message was clear: blacks were not wanted; the very idea of black people being treated as equals caused a dramatic, explosive reaction in white people.
Move onto my street? Attend my school? Marry my daughter? Take up space next to me, alongside me, as one of me?
Other Americans had dreams, too. They dreamed of a country that maintained its white supremacist ways, from sea to shining sea. They dreamed of keeping their businesses, their restaurants, their personal lives WHITES ONLY.
“Life is still segregated on television and in the movies.”
The dreams of those Americans didn’t just dissolve into thin air with the passage of legislation and forced integration. Some of those Americans passed on their WHITES ONLY ideas to their children, who passed on their WHITES ONLY ideas to their children, who are passing on their WHITES ONLY ideas to children today.
Life is still segregated on television and in the movies. And in My Racist Gay World. People still use the term “all-American” to describe a certain kind of white man, someone part of an all-star lineup with a very exclusive velvet rope policy.
Some WHITES ONLY preferences of yesterday have morphed into WHITES AND LATINS ONLY, the most popular phrase on the gay internet. Every day in America, countless gay men create online personal ads and take the time to type into those ads (in ALL CAPS): WHITES AND LATINS ONLY.
It’s often followed by: NO BLACKS. NO ASIANS. SORRY JUST A PREFERENCE. The variations are infinite, but the intent is the same. And then there’s the oft-used trick of listing the type of men one desires and listing everything but blacks. For example, an ad might read: looking for masculine, muscular guys who are white, Latin, middle eastern, Asian and native American.
Gay guys spend a lot of time and energy making sure their WHITES AND LATINS ONLY preferences are known, just as many Americans did during the last century. They also spend a lot of energy justifying and identifying their preferences as anything but racism, often using the exact same phrases used by segregationists in the South a mere fifty years ago.
No offense. It’s nothing personal. Some of my best friends are black.
Of course, there is one new defense for these preferences not heard in the last century (and yes, I have had gay guys tell me this):
I’m not racist, I voted for Barack Obama!
The more things remain the same, the more things change. Or am I dreaming through multi-racial-colored glasses?
- WHITES AND LATINS ONLY, a photo essay using gay men’s online language in images reminiscent of the segregated Old South, now and forever at Randy Boyd’s Blocks (.com).