Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Email from an Asian guy with a confidence problem

Just before I went on holiday with my Thai friend B, I received the following email:

Dear GB,

I hope you're well.

I have been reading your blog since I first discovered that I am gay in university back in 2007. In many ways, your blog have been inspiring to me and had helped me made it through my gay ordeal by giving me that connection with the gay world.

It's now 5 years down the road and I would like to think that I'm more comfortable with my sexuality and have come a long way since. Although, I am yet to "come out" to many, I no longer have suicidal thoughts of being different (which is definitely a good thing). I have since attended lots of networking events, parties, clubs and put myself out there in the gay scene. I even might have met you in one of the inter-banking drinks (if you attend them).

Never in a million years would I imagine myself writing to you for some advice. But here I am … lost as ever again.

Well let's start with online dating. I have been using Grindr since 2010. To be honest, I have no idea why I'm still on there, maybe it's just the slight glimmer of hope of the possibility of meeting my knight and shining armour on there. Now the problem with Grindr; there is a massive racial based preference/to an extent hate that is actively publicised and marketed in profiles on there. Most of the time, I will come across a profile saying "No camps, fems or Asians". I for one never indicate my ethnicity on my profile and only have a picture of a headless torso (yes, don't judge me!). As a result, I normally get lots of messages streaming in and compliments on my toned torso. The conversation normally fizzles quickly once I tell the person that I'm Asian. I would either be immediately blocked or will be having one word uninterested responses which is incredibly frustrating given the fact that we have been chatting for ages before. This has a huge impact on my self-confidence and the way I look. No one likes rejection - and it gets frustrating if it's constant rejection based on race. I get comments sometimes saying "Oh, you should have said you were Asian. I don't like Asian" or "Asian, f*** off".

I am not ashamed of being Asian, in fact, I am very proud of it. I would also like to think that I'm not an ugly person. I get compliments in clubs but I would never ever think of myself as good looking.

The whole thought of the gay community having the perception on us Asians of being "feminine" and being "less desirable" had impacted my behaviour in a lot of ways. It had affected my dating life. When the occasional rare date comes along through Grindr, I find myself to be very guarded and protective. I try to keep my dates on their toes to ensure that they never take me for granted. This means that I do not normally develop an emotional connection with any of them and the relationship will fail eventually. As for meeting people, I normally am too nervous to approach someone I like to strike a conversation with the fear of being judged.

I have no idea what to do now. I have spent almost 3 years dating in London which takes up a lot of my time and effort without getting anywhere - perhaps I'm destined to die alone?

I want to stop using Grindr but I do not know of other ways to meet guys? I do not have many gay friends and I'm not out to my straight friends so I couldn't go down the natural route of being introduced and matched with someone. It is also very unlikely for me to meet someone to have a decent conversation in clubs such as Heaven etc.

What should I do? Thanks.

First, some of these issues have been discussed before. In particular, the following posts are relevant:The first of these two posts is particularly relevant. In that post, I suggested that guys who don't want dates or hook-ups with Asian guys are racists, but as a result of a couple of comments I accepted that I was wrong about that. Not wanting to go with Asian guys is simply a preference, in the same way that some guys only want dates with hung guys or older guys etc. The best example of that is that I don't want dates with women (because I'm gay), but that doesn't make me sexist!

However, given that the reader is proud to be Asian, I don't understand why he doesn't make it clear on his profile? Doing that should stop most of the rude replies. Also, it would be good if he could show his face because that would make it clear too, although I understand why a lot of people don't want to put their face pics on their profiles.

Regarding face pics, ex-boyfriend T had a solution to that which worked well because it made it clear that he was Asian without giving away his true identity. He used someone else's pics! I can't recommend that, because it's dishonest and because the other person will obviously object if they find out, but the pics were sufficiently similar to him that I didn't notice when I met him for the first time.

Another thought is that the reader only seems to be using Grindr. Now that I'm no longer in a relationship, I've now started to look at all the different dating web sites, and it's clear to me Grindr probably isn't the best site for Asian guys to use. For a mobile app, Jack'd seems to be much more popular with Asians guys and guys looking for Asian guys. Similarly, for a web site rather than an app, there's Fridae. My guess is that the reader will have more success if he starts using those web sites.

Finally, it's definitely hard for guys who're on their guard all the time to find boyfriends, because people have to lower all their barriers to develop loving relationships. Lowering his barriers is something that the reader will have to work on. One thought is that perhaps he should try dating other Asian guys. That should help build his confidence, and with another Asian guy he'll hopefully find it easier to drop his guard.

Does anyone else have any thoughts for this reader?


Anonymous said...

I'm white and in a relationship with an asian guy. I think we white men should just simply admit that we are indeed racist, arrogant, ignorant, and most importantly, pigs. Most of my friend also don't want to date asian guys--I don't know why. But those that date asian guys only want to date asian guys exclusively for the rest of their lives--again, I don't know why.

Was Once said...

Grindr is for sex, and to use it for any other means is wishful thinking. Meeting your love online is possible, but the odds are greatly increased against you. A needle in a haystack, and thus you might meet one with all the qualifications for a sex date, and a loser in personality. One doesn't need to add "fixing" someone to make it work to an already difficult pairing. I still would say be honest about being Asian, and yourself(not including it in profile seems like still some self-hatred or embarrassment), while be cautious about moving too fast. I would also point out that in a city like London you could meet someone in a public venue, old school style and know quickly if they are right after a coffee with them, as their intention shines brightly without laptop screens between.

TwoLives said...

There must be a relationship-oriented app or dating site that's popular in London. In the US, OKCupid is popular that way and I know it's available in the UK. Maybe he should give that a try.

I agree with your recommendation that your reader should be upfront about his ethnicity. If he's proud, he should show it!

Finally, and perhaps most took me a while to realize this, but getting blocked is a great kindness.

The perfect dating app is one where every guy I'm shown is a guy who is willing to meet me in person. If I'm never shown the 90% of guys out there who would never meet me, that saves me a lot of time and disappointment. I'll take a tiny number of REAL prospects any day of the week.

Similarly, I don't want to meet a guy who's not interested but is too polite to say so. If I have to beg, plead or pretend to be someone I'm not to make myself appealing to get a second date, chances are very high that all my effort will be for naught. An enduring, fulfilling relationship is one that's natural and easy from the start. If you ever feel like you're begging for someone's attention just to schedule a date, that's your clue that he's not actually interested. If all the not interested/not authentically interested guys block me, I couldn't be happier!

Anonymous said...

I had a very similar mindset many years ago when I was coming out and exploring myself through apps or internet dating. It was definitely an eye opener. I do believe there is discrimination against Asian in general however Asian come in different form as do Westerners. :) We can't change anyone's views or preference so the reader should just accept that. He will find someone that will accept him.

I agree with GB that you might want to consider other ways to connect with other gay men. Those apps are always an option.

Be positive! :)

Ken Skinner said...

I may be missing the point, but isn't "not" dating a certain race almost exactly the same thing as "only" dating people of that race as everyone else is horrible?

I've not yet met a gay Asian who I found physically attractive. That doesn't make me a racist or a bad person. Sexuality is about sex, and sex is about who you want to "do it" with.

The counterpoint is that I'm not saying I could *never* meet an Asian guy who cranked my handle or that my tastes couldn't change.

What I do agree with is that putting exclusionary statements in profiles is 100% offensive and rude. People shouldn't be allowed to put "no Asians" or "no blacks" or "no whites" on a public profile. That *is* racist.

Ken Skinner said...

I'm clearly out of step with society, though. I can't get myself excited about meeting someone who's just a few words behind a thumbnail.

Being eyes up by someone on the street or in a pub is much more thrilling and immediate. The online stuff just isn't real to me.

It works for some, though, so I'm probably just too old to understand :)

Anonymous said...

I personally met my boyfriend on grindr and we're very happy so far... He's romantic and sweet. It is wrong to assume you are the only one looking for something 'real' and lasting on grindr and that everyone else is a player... There is a mix of everything, and there are sweet guys looking for something more as well. / also guys on grindr have a characteristic: they are the immersed part of the iceberg. As he said it always says no fem, be masculine, ect , because most of these guys are very discrete in daily life.. So the advices you are giving the reader to go to coffees does not hold : I am personally the kind of gay who very little people think is gay and have no Idea how to meet gay people in real life,I never go to gay clubs (thanks but I don't like to be told 'where' to go, like it was an apartheid and my natural Taste bring me to very posh clubs which are always straight) so I need grindr.. What strikes me most on grindr is the loneliness... Most of the guys reek of loneliness.. There sure is a lack of catering in the gay community for self conflicted gay guys who are too gay to be straight but too straight to be gay...

Unknown said...

I'm so pleased to see this posting up.

Speaking as an indian guy, it is heartening to not feel alone. I've been out since the age of 19. I've been told I'm a good looking guy, however on grindr/gaydar/jack'd or even face to face I have received such comments of remarks, that have been detrimental to myself esteem.

It is sexual racism. Granted we all can't find EVERYONE attractive, however make a polite excuse! Everyone was young once, people can change their weight... you can't change your skin colour or your race.

Bruce said...

You know, I have a weird relationship with my race as well (I'm Asian). I mean, to pretend we are in a race-blind world is naive and to suggest that our actions aren't shaped by certain social constructs would be equally disingenuous. So, anyone that can shed that burden and look in within themselves to be who they are without restraint gets some mad props. There seems to be a certain stereotype that Asians are submissive, small-endowed thin and lanky bottoms, but I think it's equally disconcerting when a person runs into the opposite direction of that stereotype as much as someone that plays into it. I wince when people vehemently deny that they're like the stereotypes as much as when someone camps it up just to fit in. It takes a lot of soul searching to really know who you are without the judgements from the outside guiding you. So this is a long way of saying that the writer of the letter still seems concerned about how his image is perceived instead of the confidence that the image he projects out is entirely his own. So, if he is up front about being Asian and that he's looking for a date and that's he's an awesome catch, then he's gonna attract guys that are serious about starting something serious. And if he stumbles across guys that are rude in their profiles and are negative, then good! Less time to be wasting finding that out mid-way through a chat. And in this world of superlatives and dichotomies and this fascination with superheroes that are so black and white, I'm going to say something unpopular and say that not all apps are created equal and you can't entirely write off one in favor of another. You're just going to have to try them all out until you find the one that works for your area. Grindr is kinda trashy in some areas and not others... And same for Jack'd, Scruff, Growlr, Adam4Adam, PlanetRomeo, Squirt, OKCupid, etc, etc... And just like all apps vary in success dependent on a lot of different factors, you may not fall neatly into one of the commoditized gay archetypes but embracing the many shades of grey inbetween can be equally hot. Meh. Not sure if I have a point, but that's my two cents.

Ken Skinner said...

^^brilliant :)

I was thinking about the whole online vs real life thing. We went out last night and ran across a few people we'd seen on apps. Most of the guys with hot profiles were not hot in person - physically, yes, but personality and sensuality, no. Some of the guys who I'd pay no attention to based on their profile were incredibly hot and engaging in person.

Yes, apps give you access to 1000s of guys but what you see in a thumbnail isn't the real person.

As a filter I think they're flawed and, like it or not, they reinforce image as being more important than personality.

Harry said...

It's given that gays are a sexual minority. But being gay and Asian in the West is a tough combination because we become a minority within a minority. Across major cities around the world, there are plenty of stories about exclusions in the predominantly white gay scene. No matter what people say about not taking things personally, it's not nice to feel less desirable. An up-front rejection based on a person's ethnicity makes it worse. I can accept an individual's distinct preferences but not when phrased so crudely, out in the open (e.g. No Asians). Since when did it become OK to lump everyone together as "Asians" and put stereotypical labels (small dicks, slanty eyes, skinny bottoms, etc.) on each one of us. Hitler did something similar to the Jews and clearly, that's a form of racism. Can someone please explain to me how it's different?

Yea...Bruce Chang was right about those fools doing us a favour because their ignorance helps us to weed out guys who would otherwise lead to nothing. BUT that's not the underlying issue here. It's about respecting people (yes - even when you're all horny, looking for a quick hook-up) and accepting everyone's entitled to his own presence in the gay sphere without being seen as an intruder. I would imagine a straight guy who proclaims 'No Asian' on a dating site would receive some pretty nasty comments from the broader community. Applying the same logic, I think there should be more vocal supports from other gay guys (regardless of their ethnicity), disapproving such behaviour.

For those who think we can do without political correctness in the cyber space, I disagree. Each of us is of equal value and what's worse than being a closeted racist. For guys who genuinely want to avoid unwanted attention from those you deem less attractive, just state clearly what you're looking for. If you can't make up your mind, then have the courtesy of looking through the profile before saying 'no'.

As for fellow Asians, be confident in who you are. The last thing we need is to let other people dictate our sense of self worth. If we don't respect ourselves, it's tough to get other people to respect us.

GB said...

I've just returned from dinner with the guy who sent me the email that I posted here. He was making exactly the same points to me as Harry. He also said that he believes that on the straight dating web site, they have a policy that forbids statements like "no Asians".

GB xxx