By Vish | @vishdlish

Firstly let me provide a personal titbit – I’m a gay British Asian male barely within the ‘youth’ bracket and I have a history of scouring the internet for celebrity gossip and pictures of hot men. Regarding the latter, I don’t mean necessarily pornographic imagery, but more like scouting that cute guy from some TV show I found endearing. After saving a few of his pictures, I would Whats App them to my chums to form a mutual ‘hottie’ admiration society. But of late, this shallow activity fails to appeal as I noticed a reoccurring pattern with my ‘fantasy’ men. They were usually white and heterosexual!

This set off alarm bells in my head and I wondered how this perceived preference came about. I started looking at the imagery targeted at gay audiences from advertising, TV programming and even pornography (i.e. gay-for-pay). It became frustratingly clear that the white straight male is highly regarded as the literal picture of masculine desirability.

This pattern is also evident in our monthly gay lifestyle magazines that predominately feature white heterosexual soap hunks, reality TV hunks or faded boy band hunks. So if you’re not white, straight, a bit famous with a toned torso, you’ll seemingly never be a cover boy!

I know these publications would hit back by saying there aren’t enough gay and racially diverse celebrities to be featured regularly. This statement is true and I understand sex appeal and celebs sell. But these covers aren’t representing the average gay man, instead they’re unhealthily communicating that straight is HOT, gay is NOT!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad these featured men support our community and I’m certainly not on some straight man hating rant. However, I’m frankly bored at how their sexed-up imagery is continually sold to us. Are we gay men too busy adoring the white straight male and salivating over their supposed sex appeal that we’re muting our own diversity?

Gay men are a diverse bunch, especially in a large metropolis like London. Particularly regarding our ethnicities and the inherent spectrum of masculinity and femininity we all fall on. Unfortunately, this phenomenon of pandering to the white ‘straight’ masculine image threatens diverse representation and more worryingly an open mind.  

The phrase ‘straight acting’ is commonly thrown about by gay men. It basically means a man who is considered so masculine you’d be shocked at his homosexuality. This ‘straight acting’ term is popularly used on gay dating profiles to describe one’s mannerisms or how they expect potential mates to be. I’m the complete opposite of this desired masculine image. My dark earthy skin tone, feminine facial features, and limp wrists contradict the accepted white masculinity championed by the gay media.  

My non-appeal was further emphasised by my short-lived mobile dating app experience. I enthusiastically set up a profile and uploaded a selfie in a hope of meeting ‘mates and dates’. I initiated chat messages with what felt like a million guys but my responses were minimal if not on the verge of zero. I ignored the reasoning behind the lack of interest and rested my insecurities on ‘app glitches’. However, when I finally came across some honest profiles and their preferences for ‘no Asians, fems or chubs’ – the writing was clearly on the wall about my own desirability.

These shallow virtual dating avenues are certainly not a broad representation of the gay community, but they do expose some unpalatable truths. Discrimination concerning masculinity and race transcends the imagery in our gay media to the wider gay community. 

Such profiles don’t anger me any more but more worryingly they make me feel unwelcome. They radiate hostility and insinuate that if you’re not white, masculine or a shirtless selfie snapper then GET LOST! I suspect some white gay men who’ve not had an ethnic friend, neighbour or seen positive diverse representation are unlikely to give the ‘alternative’ man a chance. We’re all entitled to our preferences, but to abruptly highlight someone’s race/body type and mask it as a preference is delusional – it’s more accurately racism and body fascism. 

The thought of being a racial minority within a gay minority is daunting at times. Perhaps, boundaries can fall once Mr White ‘Straight Acting’ is pushed off his pedestal and diversity becomes tangible.

Sexual Racism in the gay community

In 2012 we published a feature called ‘Sexual Racism – is your preference racist?’. Let’s just say it struck a chord within the gay community. For many the term ‘sexual racism’ was brand new, but for others it was a daily experience. The main issue people had with this article was that they thought that we were telling them that by not having sex with someone of a different race that they were somehow racist. Nope, this is not what sexual racism is about. 

When you stick ‘Sorry no Blacks, no Asians… it’s just my preference’ on your profile and then get angry when someone calls you racist you really can’t complain. No one is suggesting you have to have sex with anyone you don’t want to, but why do you feel the need to pick out a race and completely shut them out? This is racism, whether you like it or not.Think about how it makes someone who is Black or Asian feel? How do they see themselves as people? Vish’s opinion article is a prime example of the effect putting ‘No whatever’ has on people. 

We as a gay community need to start to respect each other a little more. A Black/White/Asian/whatever person may not be your ‘type’ but they are still people and should be respected.  

Everyone is entitled to have a preference in who they fancy and who they don’t, but no-one has the right to use casual racism and think it’s OK. So do yourself a favour. If you have “No Blacks, no Asians, no whatever…” in your dating profile then please delete the saying. It doesn’t save you time and effort. You’re probably doing more damage than good.

Support for Black and minority ethnic gay men 

Naz Project London creates an open space where men can come to for help, information and advice or simply to meet other men from their backgrounds. Services provided include: Condom distribution  Peer support group  Social activities  1 on 1 advice and information  Referrals to GUM clinics for sexual health screenings  HIV/AIDS and sexual health information.

For more information, call 020 87611879 or visit