Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The "gay men are racists" meme

The old meme of gay male racism is making the rounds again. According to this meme, the fact that gay men have preferences in terms of sexual or romantic attraction shows the prevalence of racism among gay men. The idea that preferences in sexual or romantic attraction automatically translate into racism seriously begs the question, but let's assume arguendo that it's true. The meme still depends on the standard politically correct "proofs": bald assertions, sweeping generalizations from cherry-picked anecdotal evidence, a pretended ability to read other people's minds, and appeals to one's own emotions.

Now let us see what the actual evidence says. This article discusses racial and ethnic selectivity among men who have sex with men in San Francisco, and people who know it only from blog posts about it cite it as proof of gay male racism. Yet the discussion section of the article states,
We also wish to point to the quite high level of interracial partnering in our sample. Overall, 46% of partnerships described were interracial. Moreover, the interpretation of racism would be unfair without comparable data from other populations. While population-based data on the race/ethnicity of sexual partners are rare, the US Census estimated around 2% of marriages were interracial from 1970 through 1992 (US Census Bureau 1998). More recent estimates raise this to only 7% (Cary 2007). While same sex marriage is currently illegal in California, therefore precluding truly comparable figures for MSM, these estimates are many-fold lower than the interracial partnering we observed in our study.
When the evidence contradicts the conclusion, it's time to rethink the conclusion.

I am not claiming that no gay men are racists or that preferences never arise from racism; after all. I am saying that if we constantly search for things by which to be offended, we can blind ourselves to what is actually happening.

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