You want my BBC? That’s so racist!

As a black gay man, I am constantly reduced to, racist stereotypes when online dating

It’s hard to believe that not so long ago there was a stigma attached to using dating apps.

Now, they are completely normalised among young people and can be a great tool to use in meeting potential romantic partners.

But for many non-white people, online dating can be a traumatic experience rather than a fun, positive one. As a black gay male, I find dating apps to be a space filled with micro-aggressions and racist sexual stereotyping.

Apps such as Grindr, although I do use others too, often result in the assassination of my personal character – because I’m seen as a sexual object and a thing, not a human being.

For instance, constant references to my gigantic penis – II wouldnt call it GIANT , but I’m black and so apparently it’s a given its huge – is usually the focus of interactions.

Often the first message I get sent is: ‘BBC?’ (which stands for big black c**k, a common phrase in the porn industry) or ‘hung?’.

Other examples include: ‘I’m craving a black guy or a group of black guys’; ‘I’m in my car and fancy a big black c**k in my mouth’ or ‘is it true what they say about black guys’. This is just a small fraction of the types of unsolicited messages I receive and if I don’t live up to this fantasy of being a hypersexual black stud with a big dick, I am immediately rendered dispensable and stop hearing from them.

There’s also this assumption that black guys are always a ‘top’ during sex (the penetrative partner) – which is just another stereotype. If you’re not top you become invisible.

It’s not just our bodies; one guy who I spoke to over the phone said he was disappointed because my voice didn’t sound as he had expected – I didn’t have a ‘Hackney’ accent. It’s easy for people to dismiss these claims with an eye roll or a ‘here we go again’ response, but this ignores the very real truth of how black people have historically been sexually objectified and fetishised.

This is something we and other BAME people still experience today – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – but it’s more nuanced, which makes it harder to call out and white people are reluctant to believe our stories. The anonymity of the internet turns these platforms into a space in which people no longer need to censor themselves, making the prejudice and racism so much worse than what you’d typically face offline. I’ve pushed back on people several times, but realised there’s no point in wasting my time.

Some will call me a racist, despite me being the person calling out the racism, brush it off or say that I’m ‘playing the race card’. It’s soul-destroying. Throughout history, black people have been portrayed as animalistic, lascivious and dangerous, with body parts that ‘proved’ this, and any guilt that may have arisen from selling, seeing and treating us as nothing but animals was assuaged because of it.

As such, an array of binaries were invented; civilised/uncivilised, them/us, white/black. Today, the commodification of black people takes place through two avenues; on the one hand a desire and love for our culture and on the other, a form of hatred – portrayed in how black people are treated in society. The ways in which black men are represented seldom offers variety.

The usual tropes of criminal, gangster rapper, absent father and womaniser belies the existence of men who are well-rounded and have a lot to offer. Across the board, including in porn, black bodies are only seen as valuable when something can be obtained from them (such as realising a fantasy) – and this is reflected in my experiences on dating apps. Many people will tell me to just not use them, and while I do often go on short breaks, in reality, how else can gay men interact and meet in a world where the majority of us use technology to connect?

When I meet people in real life, (not necessarily gay men, just anybody) there are other stereotypes that I have to defend myself from too. I am often asked for drugs (whether I am dressed in a suit makes no difference), sometimes people move away from me or quickly put their phones in their pockets. When I go to clubs, which I rarely do, it’s more stares and sometimes guys try to touch my private parts.

But it’s more concentrated online.

By educating people on the legacy that slavery and colonialism has had on how we view and treat black people, it will allow others to realise why sexualising black bodies isn’t a compliment, but a harking back to an era suffused with subjugation and death.

This kind of behaviour causes silent suffering for black men and women; we underestimate the effect it can have on mental health.

So next time you want to talk about someone’s imaginary big black c**k, remember that this person is more than a body part, and that what you say could be eating away at their sense of who they are.

Black men are multifaceted, not a monolith – and it’s about time society got the memo.

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