Over the past thirteen years, I have witnessed some of my associates and other contemporaries wear their light skin as a public badge of honor. I’ve known guys to hand select their friends and associates solely based upon complexion, and other surface qualities as well. Each of us has also engaged with men who strictly date and involve themselves intimately with other black dudes who look to be biracial or ‘mixed with something’. Despite the fact that darker skinned men have become the premiere sex symbols of our generation, there still exists this preference for light-brights amongst the minority, LGBT community.
I was raised in a pan African household. This means that from a very early age, the values, principles and teachings of Marcus Garvey and Patrice Lumumba framed my upbringings. I was taught everyday of my young life that black people needed to unite socially, politically and economically in order to remain strong and reach our ultimate destiny. It was made very clear to me that my presence in this world did not begin with the slave trade, but instead as a descendent of royalty. I was made aware of Queen Hatshepsut and King Thutmose long before my preschool teacher would hail Dr. Martin Luther and Coretta as the mother and father of our Civil Rights movement. Having pride in my blackness and understanding the struggles I would face living in America framed the lessons I learned outside of the conventional classroom setting. I was never aware of the fact that my complexion, eye color or other physical attributes would cripple my credibility amongst the black community or somehow allow me to coast along within mainstream, American society. As a result, I didn’t grow up with a superiority complex pertaining to my physical attributes. All I knew was that I was one of only four other black boys in my class, and it was imperative that I master the principles of math and science. I did, however, come of age feeling as if I was better equipped to face the world when compared to my classmates and other peers. I was introduced to the dynamics of race, class, gender and sexuality long before I would sit in college level courses that were focused around such concepts.
When guys meet me, especially the ones who are unfamiliar with ‘Xem VanAdams’, they are often taken aback by my organic nature. Within our same gender loving community, light skin men are assumed to be arrogant, standoffish, consumed by their physical appearance and lacking any real, intellectual or cultural depth. Lighter skinned men are seen in our community as being soft, sexually submissive, and surface minded as it pertains to character and integrity. Until a lot of men listen to me speak or express myself otherwise, I am already tapped as another card-carrying member of the ‘PINK CREW’.
While I certainly don’t judge or chastise other individuals for their preferences, I refuse to allow myself to be added to a collection of types. If I can look through photos of every dude that a man has dated, and most of them could pass for my twin brother, I often lose interest in pursuing romantic possibilities. A lot of people say that they don’t want to be chosen for their physical appearance, but I am one of the few who genuinely means it.
When guys tell you that you are beautiful, I believe they are making reference to the framework of your mind, spirit, energy and overall aura. When dudes say that you’re sexy or hot, they are solely focused on the flesh; your face, body and dominate, physical appeal. Sure, as it pertains to too many light skin men in our community, the surface attractions that stem from others are enough to validate their position in the world. For me, contrary to the beliefs of some, I don’t seek that level of acceptance. There’s nothing cute or admirable about being added to a long line of others, simply based upon the fact that your look matches their prototype. In life, when you allow your physical characteristics to define your worth to another man, or a specific social group, you are devaluing your purpose and presence in the world at large.
I may ‘look the part’, but you will never catch me playing it.