In 2007, I came out as gay. In 2014, I dated a black person. Guess which situation went over better?
my coming out was relatively seamless (other than my mom trying to
convince me that I was straight because I played sports), my black
partner inspired a slew of questions and
comments, such as: “Oh, I didn’t know you were into black guys!"
York, we received dirty looks while holding hands in progressive
neighborhoods —from whites and blacks alike — something I almost never
experienced with a white partner.
in no way comparing my experiences to the brutal bigotry faced by black
Americans, but these little instances added up; they helped me become
more empathetic to the daily struggles
of African-Americans. They also opened my eyes to the failings of my
generation. On the outside, it appears millennials — those born between
the early 1980s and the early 2000s — are accepting of minorities, but
internally, are we that much different than
our parents and grandparents?
There's data to suggest that millennials aren't as racially tolerant as we'd like to believe. A 2009 study found that "younger cohorts of whites are no more racially liberal in
2008 than they were in 1988." The results claimed there's little evidence of a
decline in the racial divide over the past few decades. And while 93
percent of millennials believe that it's "all right for blacks and whites to date each other," black-white marriages make up less than three percent of all wedded unions.
dearth of interracial marriages doesn't necessarily imply that
millennials, or older generations, are racist, but it all goes back to
exposure. As I've lived in racially-segregated
cities with large LGBT populations, like New York, Buffalo, and Los Angeles, I believe regular interaction with different people is the number one
requirement for acceptance, respect, understanding, and, yes, relationships.
while black and white may not interact as much as they should in this
country — because of things like white-flight and unequal access to
education — gays and lesbians reside
in every state, city, and neighborhood in this nation. That reality,
aside from increasing media exposure, translates to growing support for
gay rights among millennials.
When national marriage equality passed in
June 2015, an overwhelming majority (73 percent) of young Americans supported same-sex marriage. Over the past decade, millennial support has climbed 24 percentage points.
a relatively masculine gay guy, I'm an "undercover" minority; I make
first impressions and friendships as a white male. People get to know me
as a individual first, rather than
making a snap judgment about my character and background. Racial
minorities don't have the opportunity to "surprise" someone with their
minority status; they're sized up before they even utter a word.
to the constant othering of African-Americans by whites and the
aforementioned systemic segregation, there's no question that the
majority of millennials are more racist than
homophobic. If you don't agree, poll your straight, white friends this
weekend: "Do you want to go to a gay bar in the West Village or a club
in the Bronx?"