Dancing around the issue of romance is tricky enough, but to attempt this feat while being a gay black man, a good fellow can be hard to find. Out latest contributor who wrote “The Comedians,” chronicles how race relations almost derailed a happy match.
Reminiscing on past relationships it is sometimes hard to even fathom that I ended up dating the people I did. Being gay it has always been a difficult choice whether or not to date outside of my race, so after strictly dating within my race and having no luck, I eventually decided that I would go strictly for someone based on their personality, motivation and success (things that I hold highly in my book).
Now enter Eric sophisticated, playful, personable…oh and did I mention he was Jewish?
When it came to looks he was a little more on the average side, but when he approached me at the club one evening, I couldn’t resist falling victim to his sense of humor. In our first meeting we talked for nearly three hours, touching on personal topics such as family, goals and future aspirations. Within three weeks, after about a dozen dates, we were already making ourselves official.
As with all relationships the first two months (we’ve been dating for almost a year) were blissful. Being one of the first people I seriously dated outside of my race, we learned early on to make light of our racial differences. We amused ourselves by telling stories about our “racist” grandparents, and teasing each other about the stereotypes coined by our race. (I.E: My adoration for fried chicken and his tendency to be extremely frugal when it comes to money matters.)
At first, I believed that these free-spirited racial exchanges were things that we could treasure. (Our favorite joke always begins with him telling me to “Get back into the kitchen where you belong,” and me replying, “Well, Jews know a lot about ovens!”) I knew that not everyone could be as easy-going about interracial relationships as we were, and the fact that we had to courage to joke about it openly, meant that in the long run, race wasn’t going to be an issue.
Then it came, that WWIII disagreement that I thought would end it all. We were discussing black oppression and struggle in America, and I found myself extremely annoyed by the naive and hurtful comments he was making about the black community. Opinions that really left me bruised like, “I think all blacks like to use the race card to their advantage,” and “After the holocaust Jews didn’t have anything, but we didn’t depend on the government to support us with welfare.”
I was not looking for sympathy for the black community; I just wanted him to understand that things aren’t always as black and white (for lack of a better term) as he perceived them. After this argument, which left me in tears, I began to lose faith in him, and our relationship.
One thing a relationship should bring on many levels is a sense of security. In a world that is not always kind to gay men, and even more so people of color, I needed to know that he could be my support mechanism. About a week after the event transpired I sat down with him and expressed these concerns, outlining that race can be a serious issue, and that we need to actively support each other, not just say it.
Since this discussion, things have gone extremely well. We’re stronger than ever. Whenever we run into a situation of racial tension, we take the time to talk about it, and instead of assuming, we ask questions to get the issue resolved.
And don’t worry, our racial jokes are still a very active and humorous part of our relationship.