I chatted with a friend about those “NOs,” such as “No fat/slim, No sissy and No kids/old” on Grindr profiles. He found this kind of presentation no problem at all. Clearly stating one’s likes or dislikes actually saved each other’s time. When a requirement could not be met, he would immediately swipe to the next profile. No hard feelings!!
I have had other experiences and thought about the “NOs.”
My strong feeling for the “NOs” came when I first lived in Canada, during which Grindr was becoming more popular. I had been aware that gay men had racial preferences. However, whenever a Grindr profile slapped a line, “NO Asian,” into my face, a strong sense of isolation kicked in because I was in the (racial) minority position. It hurt!
Since then, I have been more sensitive to those profiles saying no to specific body shape, age, femininity and sexual roles – those traits that are usually undervalued and shamed in the gay community. I learned that this was a prevalent issue about how gay men (un)intentionally excluded each other in the community. This issue had to be taken seriously, not personally.
These days, I have become more invincible to these “NOs.” Nonetheless, I am more concerned about how those profiles impact gay men who have just come out. Social/sexual networking apps have turned into a substantial channel for gay culture initiation. If those gay newbies have any traits that are being verbalized for rejection on the apps, how much can their views on themselves and gay lives be jeopardized? Gay men who are new to the scene could be full of hope, could be jittery, and could also be very vulnerable…..
There is no intent to manipulate one’s preference, or to imply a gay man cannot have a “type” that he likes or dislike, and express it. If this freedom is to be deprived, what kind of world do we live in? What is to be promoted is being mindful that those networking apps are a paramount shared space for gay men. One simple “NO” word (or attitude) could actually perpetuate an atmosphere or culture of exclusion and shaming among us in the gay community.
Sexual Racism Sux suggests some words/phrases that can clearly express your likes in a more positive manner; meanwhile, they can minimize the nature of direct exclusion and shaming (refer to “Stop Racist Speech” section):
“Really prefer (muscular guys)”
“More comfortable with (guys around the same age)”
“Looking for (Whites)”
“More attracted to (rough guys)”
“Can’t resist (younger guys)”
A subtle change in our language (attitude) can help establish a bit more respect to each other!!
The first one or two generation of Hong Kong AIDS worker for gay men started in 2000. Always being mindful of himself not becoming an “old fart” in the field, and keeps updating both his hard- and softwares in thinking. He lived overseas in the latest few years and returned in 2015 with an aspiration to promote a more progressive approach for gay men’s holistic health. Actively looking for allies who share the same vision for HEvolution (HEalth for him).