As a white gay man who has never experienced what it is like to be a racial minority, I want to begin by recognizing the frustration that many non-white gay men experience on a daily basis in our community. Whether this is translated through direct racist comments, passive grindr bios that are racially exclusive, or societal western norms that have a tendency to sexualize asian men far less than white men in the media, I understand how damaging these messages can be to entire communities. Even within the gay community where so many of us had to deal with the hardships attached to being “out,” we clearly still have work to do to be less racist, less transphobic, and put ourselves in constant check to stop being such assholes.
However, just as I think sentiments that send messages of bigotry and racism are dangerous, I also think is equally irrational and unfair to write off entire portions of our community on the basis of superficial and pessimistic mentalities. Prescribing a “potato-free” diet for gay asians on the basis of frustration and anger is not only illogical, but unrealistic, and does not take the human instincts of attraction and motivation into account that are at the core of our sexuality.
In response to 5 Reasons Gay Asians Should Give Up Potatoes, I propose 5 rational responses from the “potato” point of view.
1. Response rates from dating sites are an inaccurate measure of romantic “need”
The author of the original article begins his first point by outlining that gay asians who have a preference for caucasian men need white guys more than white guys need gay asians. He sites a dating trends statistics page from OKCupid, specifically referencing the 35% response rate gay asians receive from white guys in comparison to the 55% response rate of the reverse situation. Finally, he also brings light to the measure indicating that white guys are 4 times as likely to prefer dating someone who is also caucasian. He uses these statistics to indicate that it is a “white man’s market,” therefore increasing competition among gay asians.
I disagree with this sentiment for two major reasons. First of all, the methodology by which OKCupid gathers their polling measures does not disqualify any respondents from participating in this survey. Instead, the information is gathered from gays across the board. Yes, white gay men tend to be more racially exclusive in dating and respond less to messages from individuals outside their own race. However, white gay men who prefer to date outside their own race, or who have a specific preference for race (rice queens, for example), are facing the same type of “competition” referenced by the author’s first point. In terms of sheer numbers, the Pew Research Center reveals that Asian Americans make up only 5.8% of the total U.S. population. Following the same argumentative logic used by the author, white men who prefer asians face the same, if not higher levels of competition when vying for the attention of gay asians.
Secondly, and this may seem slightly more obvious, but citing a single statistics page from a dating website is a skewed, bias representation of gays as a whole. Whether you use dating websites or not, you probably know that certain people are drawn to certain dating tools and apps for specific reasons. Generally speaking, we gays use Grindr to find quick sex, Tinder to find dates, Craigslist to find blindfolded anon walk-in scenes…the list goes on. Although OKCupid has historically been a major ally to the LGBT community, many of their dating ideals remain surprisingly binary. Gay users cannot identify as “queer” on the site and require users to enter male/female gender categories (with disregard to trans/nonconforming), among other limitations. My point is this: OKCupid appeals to a user base that is historically white, conforms to traditional ideas of gender and sexuality, and the behavior we see that translates into race-exclusive messaging is a product of their user base.
2. Anyone could get dumped for someone younger
The argument made next by the author states that white guys will eventually dump their asian boyfriends for a younger, cuter asian. An anecdotal observation is used to back this this sentiment up, whereby he comments on the fact that he most often sees a major age difference within asian/white couples. More specifically, he says that as a product of the high competition asians experience vying for the attention of white guys, they are often limited to older white guys. He therefore concludes this section by stating that these rice queens will find a younger, cuter asian once their boyfriend grows older.
Realistically speaking, this is the case for many types of couples across the board. Whether it’s a gay asian/white interracial couple, a straight African American couple, or a caucasian lesbian couple, this situation is always possible within any couple where one member is attracted to youthful aesthetics. I mean, think of all the straight Hugh Hefner-type characters that exist in this world. Seriously, let’s put things into perspective.
I think the point that the author was trying to make is more a matter of socioeconomic resources than race. Within any interpersonal exchange there is ultimately a trade of capital occurring. For most couples, the primary resources being traded are emotional security, companionate affection, and sex. The sad truth about many young/old couples is that “youth” is being traded for resources. Whether you prefer to call these people sugar daddies/babies is your choice, as it is also your choice to abstain from dating them.
3. Anyone with race-exclusive dating tendencies is a red flag
The last few serious relationships I have had were with asian men. Although my personal track history reveals that in terms of sheer numbers I have dated and romantically interacted with far fewer asian men than men of other races, I understand how I could be identified as a rice queen while only looking at these recent relationships. However, my reasoning for using myself as an example is this: I know true rice queens, “bean queens” (those who exclusively prefer Latin men), and other racially-exclusive queens, as well as straight men and women who make those same exclusive choices.
Whether straight or gay, male or female, white or asian, anyone who makes these racially-exclusive choices should probably be avoided. That being said, the reader of the original article should not be mislead into thinking that all white men who are open to dating asians (or people from races outside their own) are rice queens. These people make up a very small proportion of our community, and they are usually easily identifiable through a quick analysis of their facebook profile and photos, or if they contact you and immediately comment on your race as the reason for their outreach. Avoid and move on.
4. Commenting on exterior rate of aging is superficial and counterintuitive
The author makes the argument that “potatoes age faster” (in comparison to asians). I will not belabor this point, but seriously, it’s that kind of reverse thinking that made this frustrated author upset in the first place. Recommending asians give up white men because they age faster is like telling white men they should date asians instead of other white men because they age at a slower rate. However, in his 3rd point he says rice queens who are attracted to “youthful” qualities like smooth skin and smaller frames do not care about asians as individuals, and should be avoided.
Notice the contradiction?
5. Most importantly, you will NOT end up old and lonely
The author closes his argument by making the point that asians might want to consider being more open-minded to dating men from other race categories. Although I agree that we all could be more open-minded when it comes to dating, I do not think it is reasonable to prescribe excluding whites from one’s dating options. When it comes down to it, there is more at play than physical attraction. Successful couples stay together when they hold similar values, are willing to grow together, when they have good sex, in addition to so many other variables.
As a gay asian, if you have a tendency to date white men, you are not doomed. Your outlook for having a successful relationship is not nearly as dire as this author’s article portrays. The fact of the matter is you do not “need” anyone at all. Any man, whether black/white/Puerto Rican, has the power to dump you for someone younger, age faster than you, and make unfortunate and hurtful choices that exclude you from their dating pool. Why are we taught that there must be something wrong with us if we find ourselves single?