“No blacks. No fems.”: Hooking up and Black/Femme-phobia [Love, Anonymously]

by Guest Contributor TQ, originally published at Trans Queers: A Transfags Sex Journal

Do Not Hump

    Disclaimer: In this post I mainly focus on black-phobia because that’s the type of racism I can speak to the most, however I recognize that racism plays out in many ways for different races on these sites. This piece speaks to my experiences as a black man of African descent, and not necessarily those of black people of other descents or ethnicities.

“I’m a masculine guy and I like the same. No fems! Into whites and Latinos. Not into Blacks. (Sorry no offense).” I looked at the picture next to the profile, which showed only the torso of what was obviously a white guy. A hooking-up newbe, I’d been perusing this sex site for a couple weeks, barely able to get a bite. By now I’d seen enough “no femmes” and “not into feminine dudes” warnings in numerous profiles to get wise to the fact that the more masculine you looked, the more ass you got. The race issues I noticed during my initial introduction was also jarring, when, in retrospect, they really shouldn’t have been all that surprising. It quickly became obvious to me that the hook up scene, because of the anonymity it affords, is where oppressive attitudes and ideas about race, gender, and bodies, play out in the most unabashed way.

Signing up for an a4a account was one of my first declarative steps into the nsa/hook up scene. I was newly on hormones (again). Newly out as a transfag – a trans man who is attracted to other trans and nontrans men. I wanted to explore my sexual attraction for nontrans men in particular. Meeting nontrans men in real life proved to be difficult, since they were usually put off by my, then, gender ambiguity. I ventured into the world of a4a and manhunt because I liked the straightforwardness of these sites – you meet someone, message for a short bit, and eventually fuck if your interests are aligned. After my first few times perusing, I was blown away. So many profiles were like warped responses to gay male stereotyping around manhood; phrases like “no fems” or “I’m a masculine man. You be the same,” abound. I noticed a lot of black and brown men included these phrases in their profiles. On one level, this rejection of femininity was demoralizing, especially for a black trans man who was already grappling with notions of masculinity: what it meant and how to authentically express it.

At the same time, I wasn’t that far into my transition and I was encountering men who saw me as a feminine boy and were drawn to me for that reason. I remember messaging this one white guy for a period of time. He was married, lived somewhere in the suburbs and wanted me to come over when his wife was out of town. I looked at this guy’s picture, and, yeah, he was hot. He had that blue collar, salt of the earth thing. I was really into guys like that. Guys with big, hulking frames. Muscles and hair. Large hands and thick cocks. After I unveiled my body pics, he became more interested. “I like really feminine boys,” he messaged back. I froze. Feminine? Me? That was certainly not how I saw myself, not even when I lived as a woman. Was this reaction femme-phobic on some level? Does the fact that I’m mostly attracted to tough-looking and growly dudes make me complicit in all the sexist shit I see on these sites? These questions still plague me endlessly. I notice that every time a guy rejects me, saying or implying that I’m not masculine enough, I run to the gym in a bid to make my muscles bigger and more pronounced.

The many manifestations of racism on the sites are staggering. There are your profiles riddled with ridiculously racist language, where the authors clearly want nothing to do with dark skin. These typically have qualifiers like “Latinos & Asians preferred”. The shameless ones, however, do away with subtleties, opting instead for clear warnings like “No blacks”. Manhunt is particularly bad. First of all, it’s a white-heavy site. Secondly, you have to pay for unlimited access, which means men on that site tend to come from middle-class, or higher, backgrounds. I lost count of the many “no blacks” profiles, posted by both white guys and many of men of color. Black-fetishism, I noticed, was another offshoot of racism. As my physical transformation progressed and I started passing more as a dude, there were some interesting reactions to the complexities of my racial and gender identities. Sometimes white guys will hit me up, wanting me to fulfill their Mandingo fantasies about being fucked silly by a black man. More often than not, these guys just looked at my body pic and neglected to read my profile (where it says I’m trans). 8 times out of 10, revealing the truth about my gender sent them scurrying.

So why do I keep going to these sites? Well, there’s nothing wrong or dirty about wanting to fuck and/or be fucked. How you seek this out, as long as its consensual for all the parties involved, is and should be your choice. Amidst all the fucked up-ness around race and gender, I’ve had some amazing encounters with folks I’ve met on the sites, some I’m still in contact with. NSA sex is where I’m at, currently. I’m going to explore this without shame and with my fully eyes open. Sadly, the hook up scene isn’t the only place where blackness is demonized or femininity feared. I have no real insights on how to not internalize this, but constant self-reflection helps. Frank conversations with friends, who have a low-tolerance for bullshit, helps. Not judging yourself when you realize you carry around some of this baggage.

  • Josh-dancer

    WOW!!!!! I know that this was a serious issue among the male identified gender of the LGBTQ community. I had know idea that it was the same way with the female identified gender as well. That shows how far behind we are in terms of progression when it comes to the idea of interacial dating in our community. If you’re not of a lighter skin tone and are percieved as what we have been trained to identify as masculine then dating in all senses is more difficult in the LGBTQ community.

    • http://twitter.com/cheekymonkeyboo Helen Dunson

      True…men are tall dark (not to dark sometimes) handsome and can never be to fat or to ugly and money is a plus…and women small petite thin cute stupid… i mean it sounds absurd typing it out but that is at the root of some peoples minds when they look for partners. If you dont look like a stereotype sometimes you are not even considerd. Its funny because it seems like the LGBTQ comm is boxed in more. Butch. fem. lisptick. bear.. whatever are all commonly seen as white..ellen girls..will and grace (jack) guys. Some gay people think they are so advanced purely for being gay but hold a crazy mirror up to other gay people that we all must reflect.

    • http://blog.themerchgirl.net Tiara the Merch Girl

      As a queer girl – it is hella hard to be noticed as a minority! Especially if you don’t immediately code “queer”. People get stuck on the “foreign” and don’t notice your sexuality. -_-

  • Yunasai8612

    And to prove my point, I hit Ctrl and F and typed in “date” “dating”. The article does not use the word “date” or “dating”. To me it was clear that the article was about searching sex sites for sex.

    Searching for sex versus searching for a relationship are two different things — one involves finding the person you want to fuck whom you will have sex with soon after you meet and the other involves getting to know the person you may want to date and/or end up in a relationship with.

    I do think the searching for sex via sex sites thing IS about seeking out a fantasy of who you want to fuck, even if its not socially acceptable or is hung up on race, body type et cetera. As ugly as the “No Black men” or “No Black femme” men in the sex site world, the author of those posts are doing people a favor by telling you EXACTLY the sex experience they wish to have.

    Besides why would you want to fuck anyone who doesn’t want to fuck you?

    By the same token author can be as blatant as he wants on a sex site, by stating exactly what HE wants and doesn’t want, too.

    All is fair in sex online when you take that approach. Chances of getting what you want on sex sites go up when you ask for exactly what you want.

    I really do not think people go to sex sites so they can think about the ramifications of what they post that they want sexually. I’m a Black woman–if I was a White guy and someone pointed out the racialized language I used, I’d have said “So? It is exactly what I want in sex, it is exactly the dynamics I want in the sexual interaction”

    Sex is not a relationship, it is an interaction, and when its from a sex site, the expectation is that you meet, you fuck, you say goodbye, and that meeting again is either an agreed upon option or an agreed upon non-option. . . hence the use of the term NSA…No Strings Attached.

    In the world of sex sites, NSA can also mean No Anti-Racist Accountability Expected, No Relationship No Dating Expected, No Real Names Expected, Political Incorrectness and Outright Racism May Occur.

    Sex sites are about the visual before its even about anything else….everything from what you show in your profile picture is quickly attested and interpreted in the same way that peacocks look at another peacock’s feathers to determine if they’re going to mate.

    Its a hard cold world that’s fucking oriented and is what gets a person off. The person looking at profiles on sex sites are going by what gets them off.

  • Yunasai8612

    Re: The article

    I think that when we seek out sex online with people who don’t know us, don’t really really know us, all tha its left is objectification and all the baggage added to that objectification.

    I don’t know if we can separate seeking out people (we don’t know) to fuck from objectification and everything it entails.

    I’m curious what happens if a person was seeking out sex online at Black transman only sites. The same hypermasculinity being sought out? Or websites for Black transmen who are seeking feminine men seeking them being a better match?

    Re: The comments…why are we confusing dating with searching the internet for sex? It is not the same thing. Dating involves getting to know a person. But internet sex is just meeting in person to have sex. No need to get to know the person unless both chose to.

  • Emmeaki

    “Latinos & Asians preferred.”

    This is really ridiculous considering that a Latinos can be of any race and Asian people look different depending on their ethnic background. Somebody is going to be disappointed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/craig.gidney Craig Gidney

    Spot on analysis. My favorite

  • LoriA

    This becomes kind of problematic when taken in conjunction with the recent “Race-based Dating” Love, Anonymously article. Or, maybe, the “Race-based Dating” article becomes problematic when taken in conjunction with this.The two pieces present opposing sides to the debate as to whether or not a person’s sexual preferences indicate that zie is racist in some respect or simply a product of a racist society. It may seem like a question of semantics, but really it’s a question of personal blame. I’m in the latter camp– I don’t think it’s fair to disparage people for sticking to their sexual preferences, regardless of how those preferences were formed. That implies we think they should act differently, but how exactly would they do that? By deleting stated racial preferences from their profiles and simply turning down individuals when they inquire without saying why? That’s not a bad suggestion, but on a hook-up site that’s all about efficiency, it can be argued that doing so would just be wasting their time and yours. (That said, there are certainly better ways to state a preference than by declaring ‘no blacks.’) The only other suggestion is one I don’t think anyone would recommend: that these men who profess ‘no blacks’ hook up with men they aren’t attracted to in some useless attempt to excise subconsciously racist sexual preferences. Ultimately, it’s hard to say someone is wrong for something he has no control over– like who he’s sexually attracted to.

    I should probably confess that I’m white and have a preference for white and Indian men, although I have dated men of all races and am open to the possibility of doing so in the future. I often wonder, though, if I’m wasting certain men’s time by going out with them when there’s slim chance we’ll end up in a serious relationship. I can certainly express this without being that asshole who says “no blacks!” but the underlying sentiment is sadly the same. I say ‘sadly’ because I think that in a more egalitarian world, this wouldn’t be the case. So maybe the solution is to critique the racism that leads to these preferences while leaving the preferences- and the people who espouse them- alone. I don’t think it’s much different from being a sexually submissive female- which is another preference of mine- and that’s something the progressive community seems to have come to terms with.

    • Anonymous

      When a person says, “no blacks or femmes” in a public space, it reinforces the assumption that being Black or being gender nonconforming is inherently less desirable. And if you go through these sites, you will almost never see “no masculine men”, and rarely see “no white men”. There is a definite pattern of discrimination against Black and Asian men. Among white users who express a preference for non-white men, there is often heavy use of fetishistic language – they make it plain that they are looking for a big, Black animal stud or a pretty Asian girl-boy. The value of nonwhite beauty is defined against white desire.

      I don’t think that an individual should be blamed for being attracted to one kind of person or another. As you say, we can’t help who we like. On the other hand, these preferences aren’t random, there is a social hierarchy involved. Our culture attributes value based on skin color and gender presentation, and that plays a big role in what people like. Whether or not an individual person is a racist, the behavior is racist because it reinforces racial hierarchies in our society.

      The difference with non-white race-based dating that we discussed before is that it cuts against those hierarchies and establishes safe spaces outside of white objectification. That isn’t to say that non-white people can’t be racist or that this kind of dating won’t ever be problematic, but there is a difference. Racism is not just individual racial preference, it is a social system that hurts non-white people more than it hurts white people.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with you about how public declarations can be a part of a social construct of non-desirability. That’s a really good point. And I also agree about non-white sexual preferences vs. white sexual preferences. But I still don’t agree that sexual preferences in regards to race are necessarily racist– they’re a reflection of a racist society, sure, but they don’t have to propagate racism in the right context.