Without trying to make a hierarchy between discriminations, we have to admit that the clichés about Asian boys are the most shared… and accepted. Those we met explained to us that they felt overall “the most unloved” of the gay community.
Between the “NO ASIAT” on apps and the almost non-existent cultural representation and incarnation of gay Asians in the US, it’s hard to feel really “loved”, except by the boys who fetishize them excessively.
“You can do things with an Asian boy that you wouldn’t do with anyone else. One day at a party, someone said, ‘Oh, an Asian boy, so cute,’ when talking about me,” says a boy who wishes to remain anonymous. Racism begins by treating someone differently based on their appearance, origin or skin color. Would it have occurred to the person to say “Oh a black guy, too cute?”. Not so sure. “Of an Asian, we think there will be no response,” he adds. Because in the collective imagination, the Asian would be the antithesis of virility. They are thought to be harmless, beardless, effeminate, passive (in the broadest sense), submissive, etc. If some are, and should not be judged for that, why generalize? The feeling of exclusion comes from the recurrence of these values, which moreover are loaded with a very negative judgment. Of course, they are not unanimously passive or submissive, inoffensive, effeminate or beardless, but we stick our vision of masculinity and femininity, our model of virility, on their physics. And this differentiation brings with it a hierarchy. And the misogyny at work comes to consider them as globally inferior.
Simon (below), lives in Nantes with his lover and his cats. He tells us about his journey with boys:
I come from St Brieuc in the depths of the Côtes d’Armor, being gay was not easy. It took over the fact that being asian there was not necessarily nice every day either… When I arrived in Nantes 10 years ago, I naively thought that things would change and that I would be able to start a new life. You can assert yourself freely without being stared at by the first person you meet in the street… But I quickly realized that the gay scene, the real one, the one that allows you to exist, was not as nice as it looks. Already for LGBT people as for the others, we think that China and the rest of Asia are the same. So necessarily, if I am Asian: I speak Chinese… or Japanese… IT’S PAREEEEEEIL! Today, I’m in a relationship, but before, as soon as I liked a guy a little bit, I wasn’t man enough for him. I was told: “You Asians have very feminine features”, “you have no hair” and “you have small dicks”. I heard these phrases dozens of times! Worse: “I don’t do Asiat” or “Sorry, but Jackie Chan is not my thing”… The gay community seems to be mainly obsessed with a stereotype of a “muscular and hairy” guy. We confine those who don’t look like that to other fantasies. Sometimes, on the contrary, I was a “bukkake” fantasy, I had to “love the tickle and the smell”. My life, in the eyes of many people, was summed up in the “asian” category of pornhub. In addition I do drag so I often became the Thai katoi (trans girl) … What is sad is that I still hear the same jokes by 30 year old gays as those of 12 year old schoolchildren in St Brieuc …
In the descriptions of dating profiles, the “NO FAT, NO FEM, NO ASIAN” is a reality. But Olivier thinks that these “excluding criteria are only the tip of the iceberg”:
It’s the way to express racism under the guise of personal preferences. As it is a subjective “taste”, it is not attackable for them. When you talk a little bit with these people, who post “no Blacks/Arabs/Asians…”, you fall into generalities that “justify” this racialized refusal. Because they had a bad experience with ONE guy, they decide not to date any more. It would seem totally absurd to say in the US “I had a bad experience with a white guy, so I don’t date them anymore”, but in the opposite case, the discourse is unabashed.
It is quite striking to see that a community that has been the victim of prejudices, of the most grotesque fantasies about its way of life, its sociability, its sexuality, reproduces exactly the same mechanisms on other discriminated groups. What if we said instead what we like, and not what we like less? We can be polite and respectful, we are all here for the same thing.
Of course, as for every group, they have their “admirers”, who are even called “rice queens”. But exclusivity is also a fetish, like systematic exclusion. “As an individual, we want to feel like a person, not just ‘an Asiat’,” explained the same young man who wishes to remain anonymous. The recurrence and violence of rejection means that some boys of Asian origin will integrate this discrimination: “If I’m constantly rejected, I’ll only go to those who like Asiats even if I don’t like them. I will also settle into the cliché by opportunity and simplicity to propose myself on the love market. How far do we integrate these clichés and how far do we validate them? Do we not close ourselves off to being this because we are sent this image? When do we allow ourselves to be something other than what we are assigned?
For example, it is quite noticeable that in Europe there is a growing detestation of Asians by Asians themselves. “It would be like sleeping with a brother,” some say. It is also rare to see what are called in Asia “sticky rice queens” (two Asians together). As if they were all interchangeable. Often, they themselves think it takes “a manly” (even a “crazy” white guy will eventually be considered as such) to complete them. “One is more than an Asian to some, even more of a being gifted with subtlety, who has varying desires for experience or pleasures depending on who they are facing.”
It is these embedded clichés that Tien (above), 26, who lives in Paris, has learned to deconstruct. He tells us:
I was adopted by an American family. When I was 22, I decided on a whim to return to Asia, to Vietnam where I was born and to Thailand where I worked, and I consider myself both a Viet and a bit Thai today. So I have experience of both gay environments, here and there, and of whites here and whites there. In Paris, I often had the impression that I was listened to a little less in a mixed group, that I had to overplay my voice a little. In high school, I was effeminate AND gay, I was called “the Chinese girl”. As if all Asians were Chinese. Asians, Blacks or Arabs, each “origin” experiences a different discrimination I think. We are denied. Look, it’s like on TV: no Asians, or almost.
Bangkok is known to be a hot city, often the whites who visit Asia have no limits. Several times, some people touched my ass in the gay street, like this, at 9pm. Or I’ve had my hair stroked in a very condescending way, even though it’s not done in Asia to touch your head. Sometimes they think they’re talking nicely to you, but they talk to you like a dog. The anti-white sentiment is growing there… By being so presumptuous…
When you see me with white friends who are a little older, they immediately think I’m a whore who wants their money. Well, no…. I only like Asiats! I’m not a potatoe queen anymore since I moved to Asia. And if you’re wondering “how do we do it”, well we’re not all passive! Like white people, in fact!
Initiatives to counter the clichés are flourishing. Asian men are represented as objects of desire (last July, photographers Idris & Tony hit hard on models.com with “Rise of the Asian Male Supermodel” or the calendar “Haikus on Hotties”…) but beyond eroticization, it’s also the Asian queer culture that comes to us little by little and allows us to change our views on the models we have integrated. The Chinese LGBT Week, organized in Paris since 2015, also tries to remedy this ocean of clichés.
Few Asian LGBT personalities emerge in the USA, like the world, where bisexual comedian Margaret Cho, gay Star Trek actor Georges Takei, activist Dan Choi or drag queen Kim Chi are the very few representatives of a diversity that benefits everyone