For those of us who identified as LGBTQ growing up, discrimination is a shared experience that reminds us of some of the roughest periods in our lives. And you may think that as the target of discrimination growing up, we would naturally be more accepting and open-minded towards people who are different from us. Surprisingly, that doesn’t seem to be the case in the gay community, at least in my opinion. Through my years of observation and personal experiences, I have reached a reluctant conclusion that gay men can just be as discriminatory as those homophobic individuals who passionately dislike us.
In case you are looking for evidence of the gay community’s internal discrimination, open one of the popular dating apps on your phone and randomly browse a few profiles; the ugly truth lies within the descriptions. Phrases such as “no fem,” “No chub,” to “White Only” can be easily spotted on quite a few profiles. While this might not come as an earth-shattering truth, it should serve as a wake-up-call that the gay community is not a place full of unicorns and rainbows, but somehow a place made up by a group of people hoping to be “accepted” while excluding other gay men from their worlds.
As hard as I try to find ways to understand their discriminatory mentality, the only reasonable explanation is that the problem of internal discrimination has never been deemed serious enough to deserve any serious discussion. Most gay men either find it unrelatable or they might just think that there is nothing wrong with this mentality. After all, it seems natural to have a group of minorities within a large group. The lack of serious conversation and examination of this problem only make it grow more rampant over time.
And now it seems to have reached the point where gay men find it natural to filter out certain groups of individuals upfront. The act of filtering could either be a reflection of what they themselves have experienced, or what they think is acceptable. However, they don’t realize that short discriminatory phrases, which they consider minor, can deal a huge blow to someone’s self-esteem. Collectively, though, these phrases can hugely impact the community as a whole. Upfront discrimination help to normalize or even legitimize prejudice against our own people. It creates this invisible yet huge divide between different sub-groups in the community, and the level of distrust could also be developing without us noticing. And this is certainly a bad thing for us, when we are supposed to unify the community’s power and push for our causes in society, but instead, can’t achieve what we want because we have too many problems internally that are not recognized and tackled.
So if you agree that discrimination within the gay community is a dire problem that needs our attention now, try to start by being less judgmental towards other gay men. While it is almost impossible to live a life with zero preference, we can all start by becoming more tolerant towards others’ differences, and ultimately, a solution might be found to end this semi-invisible problem that is eating us up from within.
(Photo credit: William Yang)
(Editing: Elyse Mark)