As a generation, millennials — Americans born in 1981 or later — are very supportive of giving everyone the right to marry, while at the same time delaying their own walks down the aisle. What will expanded access to marriage mean for young LGBT Americans? There’s not much data yet. But based on conversations with demographers, historians and a handful of gay millennials, millennials overall see marriage as a choice, not an inevitability. They might get hitched, they might not. This story, a snapshot of one man’s views on dating and marriage, is part of an occasional series.
“I told you when you came out to me that you weren’t going to end up with a black man,” my sister said to me recently, laughing hysterically. I had just told her about a friend of mine predicting my future, which involved an interracial marriage, the two of us remodeling a brownstone and being featured on HGTV.
There’s nothing wrong with interracial relationships. They’ve given me Mariah Carey, Barack Obama, a few lifelong friends and plenty of men to fawn over on Instagram. In the future, romantic relationships in this country are poised to become even more multiracial, not less.
Yet, I’ve always wanted to end up with someone like me — though ideally with less student loan debt. I’m not against dating anyone else, but I want someone who not only looks like me, but also understands me.
Being black in this country often requires you to explain yourself in settings where you are the clear minority. Who wants to do that in their personal life? I don’t like having to explain why it’s okay for me to use “the n-word” and not you, or why you shouldn’t touch my friend’s hair, no matter how tempted you are. I never want to have to yell out something like “cuz I’m black b—-!!!!” the way Rihanna once did on Twitter when met with a stupid question about “nappy hair.”
I also think it’s important for gay black men to be seen romantically involved with other gay black men. I write against the notions that black people are more homophobic than other groups. I actively speak out on the representation of gay black men in mass media. I criticize the lack of visibility of black LGBT couples on television and film. I feel that it’s important to counter the caricature-like images of how black people are presented, so I’ve gotten a little uneasy about being the black guy who dates “others.”
In my dating life, I also worry about someone choosing me just because I might feed a fetish. I have never dated a white man, but I did have, uh, an encounter, with one once. I felt like I was his science fair project. Unless Ryan Phillippe drops me a line, I may never bother again.
So I have placed pressure on myself to be the change that I advocate for in my writing. I just have not been successful in that endeavor — at all.
When black people say they prefer dating outside of black, I sometimes hear self-loathing in that statement. I do not want people thinking that I hate myself, or my black features, or that I find other groups of men superior. I do not hate myself or others like me. I just have not had a lot of success with black men upon moving to New York City two years ago.
Since that time, most of the men I have dated do not look like me. The majority of them have been Latino. I match with them mostly on Tinder. And on those other apps. (I live not too far from 125th Street, so this cannot be attributed to location.) The same goes for in person, my preferred form of meeting men.
Most of the Latinos I’ve dated resemble Marc Anthony if he ate more steak. And I feel incredibly guilty about it: I feel like I’m letting myself and other black people down.
When I told a heterosexual friend of mine currently dating a white man about my feelings, she told me: “I feel like that daily. I’m in my first healthy relationship, and it’s with a white guy.” It makes you question where and what the problem is: You, those around you, or some combination of the two.
The last time I tried to go out with a black guy, our conversation abruptly ended after he scrolled through my social media accounts, caught a glimpse of me on television talking about Beyoncé, and concluded that I was too “feminine.” Hypermasculinity is not an issue for all black men. But after this latest failure, I thought to myself: You know what — I’ve lived in cities with high Latino populations all my life. Let me go to Washington Heights and try my luck with the Latinos.
Someone told me that the black man I’ve been pining for is probably in Louisiana. Maybe he’s at a crawfish boil, waiting for me to show up with the boudin and Abita beer (or maybe some Hennessy). In the meantime, I think it’s time to let go of the fantasy and see what will happen.
The guilt I feel is natural, but I can’t worry about what others might think. They’re not the ones I want to wake up next to.
I will say this, though: I will never seriously entertain a man, regardless of his background, who doesn’t like Beyoncé. Those types are not to be trusted.