The LGBTQ community has seen great strides in equal rights this year, most recently with the Supreme Court’s decision to make same sex marriage legal throughout the entire U.S. of A. And while many same sex couples are planning exuberant ceremonies of matrimony, there’s still a crowd of young twentysomethings looking to live it up until they are ready to say “I do.” The dating scene for young, Black gay males is often sex driven and fueled by the pressure of peers, and some members of the community are fed up with what they consider to be a lack of quality matches on the market.
Actor Marcus Desion (28) is a New York City transplant originally from the suburbs of Chicago, who’s witnessed the dating scene change over the past eight years. He opens up to me about the trials of dating as a young, gay Black man, mirroring the complaints of other gay male friends I’ve conversed with about the very same subject. Surprisingly enough, as prideful as they may be to openly express their love for one another, the intimate connections needed to establish long-term, committed relationships appear to be lacking among these men, and the reasons for the disconnect are no different than those for heterosexual singles.
Social media’s influence
Not unlike the hetero population that surrounds them, the gay community has seen the effects of social media and its ability to rob people of the ability to connect in the physical. “Before I came out, I was dating a few guys with multiple meaningless flings in between,” states Marcus. “Once I came out at 24, things seemed to slow down, especially since I was seeing someone at the time. Social apps and online personas have taken over. It’s easier now to connect with a person’s profile than an actual person these days.”
Tinder, Facebook and Instagram are popular places to search for potential mates with the click of a button or the swipe of a thumb. And while these are viable sources to use in paring up, the connections often turn out to be nothing more than casual hookups. “We have the same complaints as the straight scene,” the Broadway performer exclaims. “No one wants to connect anymore. Since sex became easier to get, love became harder to find.”
The pressure’s on
A boy’s night on the town involves party hopping and downing drinks with friends who are all looking for the same thing: a perfect match of the moment or maybe something more exclusive. The pressure gets applied in a jeering fashion when one out of the group locks eyes with a guy who takes interest.
“Your friends are egging you on to see what he is about, especially if he is attractive,” says Marcus, detailing a typical “on the prowl” experience. “If he isn’t attractive, your friends will talk about him like a dog and convince you that you can do better. It’s a sad truth, but a lot of who we decide to pursue is influenced by our friends; peer pressure at its best. But that’s only if they aren’t occupied with a potential prospect themselves.”
Men are visually stimulated, and in the case of men dating men, the innate trait to gauge compatibility by appearances first and personality second still applies. This trait leads to many heated nights of passion, but an absence of substance needed to take the relationship beyond the bedroom.
The taboo of being Black
Society is currently seeing a shift in the paradigm as blackness is being considered as the “IT” factor of influence, from clothing to music and even physical appearance. It seems that the Black man is an even higher commodity to be desired by women of all ethnicities. But for gay Black men, having melanin-blessed skin places them at a disadvantage with some.
“One thing I have been hearing a lot that bothers me is this whole ‘I’m not into Black guys’ thing,” Marcus laments. “So you will deny a possible connection with someone simply because of their skin color? That Black guy you’re not into could be the one to treat you the way you’ve wanted your entire life. It’s crazy to me that not too long ago, everyone wanted to date a Black guy. What makes it even crazier is when it’s another Black guy who says he doesn’t date Black guys!”
Race is a major placeholder in the dating scene for gays as it is for many heterosexual singles, and according to Marcus, the Black dominant is desired more so as a fantasy fling than a serious companion.
“In the gay community, there is this ideal of the strong, dominant, well-endowed Black top that is sought after,” he says. “It appears to be more of a short-term conquest than a long-term relationship goal.”
Sex before intimacy
“Oversexualized” is the undercurrent of mainstream culture. And for men whose hormones can rage uncontrollably, getting to the sex is simple, but establishing intimacy that requires trust isn’t the easiest feat. “Men—Black men especially—are trained at a young age not to feel emotion,” offers Marcus. “We are taught not to cry, that holding in our emotions will make us tough. The only emotion it is okay to express is anger. And in the Black community, there is a lot of shame covering homosexuality. I feel those two factors combined sometimes make it difficult for men to connect intimately.”
As far as building trust that leads toward intimacy, Marcus believes that being open and honest about one’s intentions and not settling are places to begin gaining trust that he says must be earned.
Finding love while young, Black and gay seems to be no more difficult than the search of straight men and women. But it’s compacted with the taboo of homosexuality. And with the urge to feed fleshly desires, the goal of living in marital bliss doesn’t seem to be the general sentiment of the guy that just wants to have fun. As society begins to move into areas of comfort with homosexuality being embraced openly, there will eventually come yet another shift in how gay men socialize, interact and find compatible matches.
Glamazon Tyomi is a freelance writer, model and sex educator with a deeply rooted passion for spreading the message of sex positivity and encouraging the masses to embrace their sexuality. Her website, www.glamerotica101.com, reaches internationally as a source for advice and information for the sexually active/curious. Follow her on Twitter at @glamazontyomi.