In 2016, I made my man cry. I’m white. He’s black. We were at a party of almost all-white, almost all-gay, almost all-men.
I was wearing a tight pink and gray cat onesie. He was Superman. It was a pajama (underwear) party. A friend from work had invited us. We’d have cocktails and play card games and laugh the night away.
And — my strong, smart, handsome, funny 26-year-old, glasses-clad Jamaican boyfriend of many months went to his car, alone, and cried.
I didn’t see him leave.
I didn’t notice the pain on his face. The hurt. The anger. The consternation. I didn’t see it.
At the party was a little pixie of a colleague with a high-pitched voice and a small wiry energetic dancer’s frame. He was white. Not too long into the party he squealed near my shoulder about my “big black boyfriend’s big black COCK.” He asked if he had one. I might’ve laughed along with everyone who cared to even notice the comment. I don’t remember.
He squeaked it again. I didn’t bat an eyelash.
He had another drink. So did I. He exclaimed about my partner’s big black dick. My partner didn’t laugh. I didn’t notice.
We had a few more drinks and my partner drifted off. I didn’t think to look for him.
Another drink was made for me. I thought to check if my man needed one. He wasn’t there. I checked the bathroom then went outside to check the car. He was in the driver’s seat alone. I went up to the window. He kept looking straight ahead — at nothing but a well-maintained apartment complex parking lot.
I went around to the passenger side and got in. He had lines of tears streaming down his face — disappearing under the blackness of his short beard.
I asked what was wrong. He said he needed to be alone. That it was a lot. That WE were a lot. I thought he meant the loudness of the atmosphere. It wasn’t tamed.
Shaking his head, he said, “No, you don’t get it. You didn’t see anything wrong with that?” I asked what he meant. “BBC? Big black cock? Your friend in there fetishizing me and you didn’t say ANYTHING.”
I had no idea how hurtful it was to be reduced to a plaything. A toy. My boyfriend had been demeaned, insulted, made less-than. And I hadn’t seen it. My privilege didn’t see it. Didn’t see him hurt.
I grew up with black friends in public school from an early age. I’d had a long-term black partner of several years before him. But I didn’t know enough not to hurt him by not calling out the immature idiocy of an acquaintance.
I’m not sure if I addressed it right there with the boy who’d repeated the BBC moniker again and again. I did eventually discuss it with the hosts of the party. We didn’t leave. He came back in. We made it an all-nighter, crashed in the living room and brekkie’d at Denny’s the next morning. They became friends for years.
But they were friends of privilege. And my partner would feel less-than around them for as long as our relationship lasted.
Remember this story when you next update your Grindr, Scruff, or Jack’d profile looking for BBC. When you conduct your race-based searches or immediately assume how well-endowed a person is on account of the amount of melanin in their skin.
Call out mean jokes. Respect men of color.
Don’t just let them know they matter. Let them know they’re cherished. Let them know they’re loved. Judge them for who they are as living, breathing human beings. Not objects. Not toys. Not less than.
If you don’t understand, ask. Try to learn. Hear what more you can do. Love only wins when we all feel loved.
White Gay Son of South Florida