POC face discrimination based on their sexual and/or gender identity, as well as their race – For queer British Chinese people, racism is often rooted in fear and sex.
Contribution by Dan Chan.
This discussion of racism in the queer dating scene is through a gender-fluid, male-presenting British Chinese lens (hello identity politics!). Much of what is explored can be said to be similar to the experiences of other people of colour (POC). Also, the word queer is used as it is an umbrella term that best fits my identity and it is a way to reclaim the power of the slur.
POC face discrimination based on their sexual and/or gender identity, as well as their race – this is called double discrimination. For queer British Chinese people, racism is often rooted in fear and sex.
The fear of East Asian people stems from Yellow Peril propaganda, which is a symptom of sinophobia. The popularisation of this grew in the early 20th century from portrayals of characters like Fu Manchu, who is described as a Caucasian hating villain. The impact of this stereotype is still seen today, with the COVID-19 pandemic being a catalyst for the rise of Anti-Asian racism. According to Labour MP Sarah Owen, there has been a 300% increase in reported hate crimes against East Asians over the past year.
You may ask how this relates to the queer dating scene? As I can speak from my own experience, the racist attitudes are heightened on dating and hook-up apps, like Grindr and Tinder. A popular statement of hate seen on profiles is ‘no fats, no femmes, no Blacks, no Asians’ – this has layers of bigotry and is often seen on the profiles of White, able-bodied, muscular, and straight-passing cisgender men. The Yellow Peril has worked its way into the queer community disguised as a preference – these apps have become an echo chamber of racism. By bringing this hate into an oppressed group, White gays may think they find adjacency to wider society that is built on heteronormativity, patriarchy, and colonialism. They do not.
British Chinese people experience sexual racism, this ranges from undesirability to fetishisation. The undesirability of East Asian men in the UK can be connected to media depictions of the Yellow Peril, creating false justification for racist dating preferences. The other end of this spectrum is fetishisation by White gays, this is similar to Yellow Fever that many East and South-East Asian women experience from straight White men. Queer White men who focus on an Asian man’s race are known as Rice Queens, it is often expected for Asian men to be submissive and obedient. Fetishisation is heightened in pornography when there is a dominant White man and a submissive Asian man, generally engaging in scenes of rough sex. This type of pornography is problematic because it is made for the White gay male gaze by objectifying East Asian men. The extent of this can be seen in how there is a category solely for Asian porn, which completely homogenises a diverse group of people to youthful, slim, hairless bodies. The issue with this is many White gay men often expect POC to fit their sexual fantasies, and their perception of what an individual’s race may be, which pushes white supremacy even into society.
The weight of racism is a lot to deal with – it can cause internal and external issues for an individual. For instance, queer East Asian people can lose their true self by hiding parts of their culture and heritage to assimilate into society by trying to align with Whiteness. Other internal issues can include questioning their place and worthiness within the queer community, especially if they have received hate due to their sexual and/or gender identity. Individuals can also experience external issues like putting themself in dangerous situations. For example, many LGBTQIA+ events are centered around nightlife which tends to come with alcohol, drugs, and hook-up culture. The problem with this is how
White gay men can expect East Asian men to fit sexual stereotypes. By combining this with intoxicated communication, there can be blurred lines on consent which can lead to sexual harassment and passing on STIs. LGBTQIA+ people already face bigotry in the UK, therefore it is even more important to come together and fight for each other. As POC, you can surround yourself with your family (biological or chosen!), invite self-love through positive affirmations, and relish in your culture – for me, making my favourite Chinese food helps!
Non-Asian people must learn about the plight of East Asians because this has been overlooked for too long. If you are invited into physical or digital spaces, you must listen and not silence the voices of East Asian people. Be accountable for your thoughts, words, and actions, as well as those around you, because they do have an impact regardless of the intention. We can bring these actions into our lives so we can move forward as a collective to support one another, and show society that it is possible to live in a world of acceptance and love. Be hate-less, not hateful.
Contribution by Dan Chan.