Same-Sex Data for Race vs. Reply Rates

As promised, here are the same-sex versions of last week’s charts and tables. In general, they show that straights and gays share many of the same inclinations, but the prejudices of the latter are perhaps a bit less pronounced. I should say at the top that some of the sample sizes for the various race/gender slices presented here are rather small (for instance, OkCupid doesn’t have many lesbians of Indian descent), and that accounts, I think, for some of the scatter-shot nature of the color tables. Race preferences are not nearly as stark here as they are with the heterosexual data.

See for yourself:

Still, there are a few conclusions we can draw:

  • Blacks get fewer responses. We saw this with the straight data, too, and here it’s true of both gay and lesbian senders. Black gay men get over 20% fewer responses than non-blacks, which is about how straight black men fared. Black women, on the other hand, do relatively much better with gays than straights. While they’re still the least replied-to group, the discrepancy is much smaller in the lesbian community.
  • Whites respond by far the least to anyone.. Both white lesbians and white gay men write the fewest replies. In fact, across the two charts, whites respond about 15% less often than non-whites, and white gay men show a marked preference for other whites. On the other hand, gay white women don’t have the segregationist tendencies of their straight counterparts; they just dis everyone. Whereas last week we saw that straight white women strongly preferred other whites to the exclusion of other groups, lesbian whites respond to all 9 racial groups roughly evenly, and, in general, the lesbian community seems relatively colorblind. Only Indian lesbians receive a response rate far off the average, and as I said above, the sample size there is limited and the results might be skewed by chance.
  • Asian lesbians are in demand, and they’re picky about other races. Gay Asian females are replied to the most, and, among the well-represented groups, they have the most defined racial preferences: they respond very well to other Asians, Whites, Native Americans, and Middle Easterners, but very poorly to the other groups. Latin women also express a clear preference, for Whites and Asians.
  • Men prefer Middle Easterners. Gay men and straight men both respond best to Middle Easterners, and the preference is quite dramatic. I’d be interested to hear any theories why this is so.

As we did last week, we can see that all groups think, theoretically, that interracial relationships are acceptable, yet again whites are the least willing to have such a relationship themselves. This time it’s the men, not the women, who prefer most to keep to their own: it’s interesting that both in reply patterns and in their answers to these two match questions, the behavior of white straight women and white gay men are so closely parallel.

To our friends in the gay and lesbian communities: thanks for being patient and waiting for this data. We will do gay-centric articles in the future, I promise. Lately, since we’ve been dealing with complex and data-intensive subjects like race and reply rates, we’ve had to restrict ourselves to straight data in the primary post. We felt that adding a discussion of gay and lesbian trends alongside straight ones would triple the length of an already long and dense post and surely more than triple reader confusion. We will keep looking for ways to present the information you rightly expect; for now, it will be in addenda such as this one.

55 Responses to “Same-Sex Data for Race vs. Reply Rates”

  1. Drakey says:

    Seems to me, given the number of bi women’s profiles that start with, “Not looking for men,” the most interesting step you could take next would be studying “conversion”–do gay men respond to straight women? Gay women to straight men? Straight men to gay men? Straight women to gay women? How often and for how long?

  2. John says:

    will the data be made available at any point?

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks for acknowledging that there are gay data and posting at least some of it!

  4. LadyZaftig says:

    With regards to whether gay people respond to straight people, there are responses based with the intent of friendship. Keep that in mind.

  5. M says:

    It might have helped a bit to clarify on the charts who are the responders and senders. It was easier to understand with the male and female charts, but here both partners are the same gender, so its hard to remember how to look at it. I had to look back at the previous charts and think about it a bit to read these correctly.

  6. Ian says:

    It seems to me that you’re missing something where replies to black men are concerned, and that is the amount of internet “hype” about african based dating-site “scams”. I think most gay men now receiving a message which starts “I from Nigeria” will bin it. This has nothing to do with race as such, merely that we know from our and other’s experience how these interactions go… It’s three or four inocuous messages back and forth, followed by “send me money”! I actually think black guys are just as sexy as any other race, but I’d probably think twice about responding to a message from certain parts of Africa.

  7. illiniwatcher says:

    This is both amazing and horrible at the same time! I’m one of the gay black males and my luck on OKCupid, as well as other online personals sites, has been pretty bad. Because I was pretty much enculturated in a predominantly white environment (private grammar school) my attraction has typically been to white males. I have more culturally in common with most white males than black males and, because I was around mostly whites when my hormone clock went off, that’s who I’m attracted to physically.

    The sad part is that I’m college-educated, talented, well-read, and a good conversationalist. While I wouldn’t call myself a cover boy, I’m far from Quasimodo either.

    One good thing about this survey is that it kinda confirms something I’ve long experienced, particularly living in Texas…gay whites here just don’t seem to be able to get by the race thing. But that means that I can at least be more open to other non-whites, even though their rates of response are marginally better.

    One bad thing, though, is that it confirms a suspicion that I’ll be “loved”, just “not that way” by the gay community. I have long joked to friends of mine that if I ever get a gay boyfriend, I’ll have to import him from outside the U.S. It’s either that or fly solo until I’m dead.

  8. DirtyDingo says:

    illiniwatcher: I am a straight Black female and I was reading the blog entry for the straight responses, but I’m always curious and just had to read the one for the same-sex entry. I agree with you completely!! Both results were amazing and horrible, but at the same time I’m totally glad that this isn’t just in my head. I’ve tried basically all of the dating sites only to have people not reply to me (for what I think is because of my race), or to have someone reply to me that was way below my standards.

    I, like you, was raised in a predominantly White environment and am mostly attracted to white males and other people outside of my race only because most of today’s Black men either don’t want me, or they only have a high school degree. I am also from the south, and one thing I have noticed is that wherever there is a visibly large Black population (even up north), is that out of the ones who are educated and who I would want to be with, they either have a White woman on their arm or they don’t even look my way. It’s hurtful because I know I have an amazing personality and I am open to my own race (so long as they aren’t “thugs” or anything) as well as every other race, I just want someone educated, nice and funny. To me, looks, including race, do not matter.

    I have the same suspicion that you have, and I’m trying to believe that I will find someone who fits my standards (which are not high) because we all deserve it no matter what our race or sexual orientation is. Best of luck to you, I know your prince charming is out there.

  9. Summer says:

    Thank you very much for posting data relevant to my life.

  10. Rebecca Woestman says:

    As a white lesbian working for a non-prof to help rid the country of racism, I sincerely thank you for proactively taking a stand. YOU ROCK!

  11. V. says:

    I’d be interested to see how well gays and straights (monosexuals, if you will) reply to bisexuals, how bisexuals reply to bisexuals, etc.

  12. Toby says:

    Ha, gay Indian male here (the group that is second-to-last in getting responses). No wonder I’m not having any luck.

  13. Finalresonance says:

    Wow. Gay white guy, should get the most replies according to the data, and I get almost NONE. I’m even courteous enough to reply to ANY message (and make it clear in my profile that I do so). I’m actually surprised my luck’s so bad, unless it’s due to my lack of a car, or the fact that I’m still a student…

  14. Elisha says:

    I also would like to see how people respond to bisexuals, and whether bisexuals contact and respond to their own sex more than their opposite sex. i have a feeling that a lot of bi’s are here to meet their own sex, because the pool is so much larger online, and people don’t announce their sexuality in person.

  15. Kleine_latte says:

    I’m also quite interested to see some data on the message/reply rate to bisexuals. From both the monosexuals (as was so nicely put) as from other bisexuals. I have noticed that bisexual men (both online and in real life) do get frowned upon by both straight women and gay men when “romantic or sexual interests” are on the line.

    more on the topic, I am surprised to belong to the group which “replies least”, seeing that I reply to every message I get (be it slightly shorter to some than to others)

  16. Parish says:

    Well you know what look at this and being black, i kinda this this is so true ive been rejected so many times by latinos and some white guys. and there reason is because im black. i mean it’s sometime hard to get a reply from some of the ppls i try to talk to as friends on myspace… and it sucks because they could have the same friends and be a different race and they talk to them, like you know either to see how there doing or etc and when i do that or try to i never seem to be able to get a reply.. and you know at times it hurts because it’s like wow is my race seriously the only reason ppls choose not to talk to me but.. then again i realized it’s just online… so yeah but it is true tho that if your black your chances of getting a reply are slim to none…

    but why is that? tho

  17. Keegan says:

    I’m a white gay man. I’ve been thinking about this issue for a year now since I found out how desired white men are by non-whites. Before then I had no idea a situation like that existed. So I went to look at all the porn I collected and 98+% was of white men. I didn’t set out to only look for white men, it just happened. All the men I’ve dated were white. White men’s physical and social characteristics are attractive.

    As to why Middle Eastern men are desired by men. First the Middle Eastern men these men are going for are Causasian with tan skin and dark hair. Those features are alluring to many. On the social front, before 9/11 there was a lot of porn playing up Middle Eastern history (of conquest and all-male gatherings because of strict gender roles). Gay porn with Middle Eastern themes have nearly vanished since 9/11. I think most of the OKCupid responders are older than 25 so their sexual maturation happened before 9/11 with all the Middle Eastern themes in porn and no everpresent connection of terrorism with Middle Easterns to repel them away from desiring them. I think in ten years the number of replies to Middle Easterners will go down because of what has happened since 9/11.

  18. Donny Viszneki says:

    Who are the senders and who are the receivers? (Get it?)

  19. brownandgiggles says:

    i’d like to see a gay-centric article about response rates to bisexuals, transsexuals, drag queens/kings, and other sub-sets of the “queer” group as well. for an already marginalized group, i think the LGBTQ community holds a lot of prejudices towards individuals who don’t fit in with whatever the majority’s definition of queer happens to be at that time.

  20. Ohimitsu says:

    I have to agree with illiniwatcher and other have said. I really think it’s unfair and ridiculous for a marginalized community (homosexuals) to be so close minded. It just speaks to the idea that your aren’t simply born with preferences that hinge on race. I believe they are developed.

    The general idea, I believe, most people have of african americas coincide with thugs, baby-mamas, and in general undesirables. I don’t think this is not necessarily the most crippling thing, but the kicker is that it’s often true. Many people continue to perpetuate these racial stereotypes and in the end I think that does much more harm that good.

    I did a little research of my own last year and I found very similar results. Despite how interested potential mates would be in my stats, as soon as they found out I was black they disappeared and some would blatantly tell me they weren’t interested in black guys. When I asked them why, they’d give me the same tired excuse that it’s just a preference.

    I’ll be the first to admit I am a bit biased because despite my efforts I’ve become a bit bitter about the whole situation. However, it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one that feels this way or that my data was flawed.

    In short, I’m a black gay frustrated male in the south that is pretty much open to everyone, but isn’t really accepted by anyone else but older gay black and white men.

    I think it would be interesting to see how rates in messages to and from black men change as the person opposite to the black male becomes older. It reminds me of a quote from some movie I saw a long time ago that basically said the only reason you see older white men and younger black guys together is because they are the only people that will accept each other.

  21. alchemywow says:

    Let me first say that I am writing this because I think it is a fascinating perspective that is not entirely own… but something I have thought about for years now.

    Robert Loescher, who was once a genius art history lecturer at the School of the Art institute of Chicago, along time theorist of desire and incredibly controversial thinker, discussed the topic of white desire, particularly in the homosexual community, in ways that were both infuriating and intriguing to me. His basic argument was that the white, or rather Occidental, bias in the gay community stems from a homosexual visual culture that has all its precedents in Greek or Roman ideal beauty, and that in America specifically, regardless of what race one belongs to, that visual history of beauty/desire reigns supreme. Frankly, Asians, Africans, Indians, Mid Easterners, Latinos and all other non-white races have not idealized their bodies the way Caucasians have. Non-white races “stylize” themselves in art. Whites “Idealize” themselves. Just look at any art historical survey and that becomes stunningly clear. Living in Western society, he would say, we have all of us bought into the notion, after centuries of visual training in art, media, popular-culture, that the white-person remains the manifestation of ideal beauty, the thing desired, and all the rest of us, well, we stand in curious difference to that, not “fundamentally undesirable” but just “fundamentally not the ideal.”

    He would also go on to say that “gayness tends to empty the whites of their status as the ‘ambiguous, neutral race,’ the race by which all other races are measured in difference. And so to justify their wrecked, higher neutrality, they must seek mirrors of themselves in the world, in order to affirm themselves, their new identity as white and gay. On the other hand, non-white people, who are already marginalized and have no safe place of racial neutrality, do not need to seek mirrors in their partners, otherness is fundamental to their experience.”

    Bob’s language is full of blanket statements that we all know harbor exceptions, but from what this data describes, it is not entirely outlandish.

    I, like others, would like to see more data about the placement of trans, intersexed and otherly sexed people who use this dating service.

  22. Christopher says:

    As a gay black male, I feel obligated to respond to this polarizing topic. First and foremost, what I’ve always found intriguing about the sexual-racial dynamic of gay life is the objectification, dare I say fetishization, of the white male, to the exclusion of non-white males.

    Of course, this exclusion, or disenfranchisement, from sexual desireablility increases as the non-white’s features or coloring variates from the established white ideal. Hence why, here in Texas, it’s common to see profiles explicitely state, “white or Latin only”, as many Latinos have dark Caucasian features and olive skin.

    As someone frequently described as aesthetically beautiful, by people of all races, but especially by white men, I question why my experiences online (thru sex and non-sex oriented venues) have been so discordant with my experiences in face-to-face interactions with other gay men.

    I think it’s because, while everyone can see and appreciate beauty, regardless of ethnicity, many gay men hold the white male ideal as the ultimate attainable (or in some cases, unattainable) status symbol — as white men have, historically, represented power, beauty, and privilege, among other positive traits.

    I can without a doubt, conclusively state that sexual attraction is purely a result of social conditioning — what we find personally attractive is a result of the media — what we see personally, who we interact with, and how these people are portrayed.

    Unfortunately, for black and Asian men, the media portrayals are often negative, stereotypical, and unflattering — black men as hypersexual, long-donged beasts, crime-prone, uneducated, and poor. While Asian men are often typecast as effeminate, foreign, weak, and nerdy. Furthermore, as abovementioned, black and Asian features tend to variate most from the chiseled, straight-nosed, muscular white male ideal, and as a result are less valued.

    The problem with stereotypes, though they may be perpetuated or visible in a large number of people belonging to the affected groups, is that they do not take into account the many people of the said groups who variate from them. Hence, a black male, like myself with classicly European features and wavy hair, or a tall, athletic, masculine Asian.

    Yet, because we are minorities, it’s easier for categorically negative stereotypes to “stick”, and so when many gay man state their lack of attraction to Asian or black men, more likely than not they are relying on these ingrained stereotypes as a representation of ALL black and Asian men must be or must look.

    When I was a child I lived in Japan (yes, I was the only black kid in the entire school), and found myself crushing on Japanese boys. I can only imagine if I had continued to live in Japan, how after puberty, my sexual attraction would have been “set” and I would have solely preferred Asian (or perhaps, specifically, Japanese) men.

    Of course, that’s not what happened — I moved back to a wealthy, very white suburb and almost exclusively found white males attractive. Now, at 23, after a series of online rejections, direct and indirect examples of racism from other gay men, and a general feeling of “never being quite as good enough as that white guy”, I was forced to challenge my own standards of beauty and confront the social brainwashing which forced me to embrace them.

    It also irks me that many white gay men are unwilling to acknowledge their own white privilege and try to downplay or discount genuine examples of racism experienced by non-white men. I get so sick of hearing how, “black and Asian men need to quit bitching; a preference is a preference” bullshit mantra. It’s almost like they’re just telling us to shut up and accept that as minorities within a minority, we will be ignored, devalued, and disenfranchised — that it’s just how things have been, and will continue to be, and instead of taking a proactive approach to fix the problem, just accept people’s “preferences”.

    I call BS on that one.

    Lastly, I hope many of my non-white gay comrades will challenge their own standards of beauty as well — which, from my experience, have largely been in favor of the white ideal — to encompass greater variation. It’s normal and expected for white men to desire other white men, but it’s not normal or healthy for non-white men (in the numbers they do) to desire white men exclusively. Who knows, perhaps it will take another round of rejections and more bruised egos for these men to challenge the way they view the world.

    I just hope as a community we can get beyond all these racial barriers and see people as individuals, and judge beauty for what it is, instead of prejudging and dismissing on race alone.

  23. Christopher says:

    I also want to add that the findings of this study are not new to me — I’ve been doing my own “unscientific” race-based experiments on sex and non-sex oriented gay sites for years.

    It usually begins with me uploading pictures of myself (some half-naked) and finding similar pictures of a white guy who has a similar build, musculature, and features. Then, filling out profiles with identical stats, interests, and education.

    To remove bias, I’ve posted my picture along with the white picture on attractiveness rating sites, and had people judge for attractiveness. Time after time, I was voted more good looking.

    Yet, despite this, can you guess which profile ALWAYS received more interest (in the form of e-mails, compliments, hot listings, and outright offers for sex)? You guessed it, the white guys profile did. Little did these people know they were partaking in a social experiment, but I think it speaks volumes of the very real affect race plays in who gay men are willing to have sex with, date, and even befriend.

    We can dig our heads into the sand and pretend like this isn’t an issue, but until we are willing to acknowledge that racism is still a huge issue in the gay community at large, we will never be able to move beyond it.

  24. Rob says:

    These findings are quite interesting to me. Being a gay black guy, my biggest problem has not been finding someone with whom there’s mutual attraction. I’ve found commitment issues to be a much larger problem in the journey for my future lover. Many gay men are just not willing to commit to a relationship

    I was raised in a predominately black area that has become largely Hispanic over the last few years. I went to a high school where for the first two years I was in with mostly black kids and for the last two whites and Asians. I went to a university with a predominately white and asian population. Any guesses who I find attractive? I’ve found attraction in every race I’ve come across.

    There is no such thing as having a racial preference without it being rooted in prejudice. I had a guy tell me I’m really cute and then he asked my race. When I told him I was black, I never heard from him again. That’s a prejudice. If I’m hot and you find me attractive, why bother asking my race?

    I’m interested to see if there’s a difference in replies based on unmeasurable criterea, such as skin tone (e.g. light-skinned vs dark skinned blacks, lighter vs tanned latinos, etc).

    When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if I get 1 or 100 replies to my messages. There’s no way I could simultaneous evaluate 100 different people and see how they’d fit in my life. I’m only looking for one man for the rest of my life. I’m waiting for one message.

    Also, one more thing I’d like to say. When someone searches online for a mate, they are looking for certain criteria and will filter people a lot more aggressively than they would out in the real world. There’s a certain chemistry that can’t be measured online and as a result someone who you may have hit it off with in person, you’d just let them go by.

  25. Toomanylawyers says:

    Yeah, this post was really interesting for me. As a bisexual black male I have never had that much luck with online sites. It fascinated me for the longest time because I’m a pretty good looking guy and I do very well in the bar, club scene. I couldn’t figure out why for some time until I realized that of course, in person charisma, confidence, style can all be portrayed and witnessed in seconds between humans. Online your dealing with far more assumptions, pre-conceived notions, general (but I think valid) bias, and hopes of perfection.

    It’s never dented my self-image that I get far fewer responses online than in real life because the hits I do get online tend to be good ones, that lead to in the least friendships in almost all cases (but also a bit hanky panky).

    I also think blacks aren’t the only ones who have to deal with this. I was in New York City at a straight bar and sat down next to this pretty asian girl and we struck up a conversation and she told me she was annoyed when she goes out because she sees guys look at her and immediately reads on their face often times that they don’t think she speaks english. LOL I mean the idiocy of our preconceived notions. And btw she was american and fully fluent and funny as hell!

    So I think black people should not be disheartened by these statistics. They are a reflection of our society which still has quite a ways to go before people don’t really see race as all the reflective of anything except a physical trait. Until then, just keep putting on the charm and keep looking.

  26. Azureai says:

    Thanks for the data. It’s definitely interesting. Anyone else notice that gay latinos seem to get better reply rates than their straight counterparts?

    I think we need to convert some more latinos.

  27. minty says:

    “Men prefer Middle Easterners. Gay men and straight men both respond best to Middle Easterners, and the preference is quite dramatic. I’d be interested to hear any theories why this is so.”

    Hairy, dark, masculine, aggressive, dominant.

  28. Sarah says:

    Drakely, my own anecdotal evidence shows that the “conversion” at least in females, at least on this website, is from Bi to Gay, many comment on their profile that they took down Bi and put up Gay recently, either because they aren’t interested in men in actuality, or frequently because they aren’t interested in the men that message them frequently on OK Cupid. Do straight women get as many requests from people interested in 3-way sex?
    In other “things not blogged” news, a lot of people answer the question “Should people with low IQ scores not be allowed to reproduce?” with a “Yes.” That so many can advocate for genocide on a mass scale on a DATING WEBSITE blows my mind.

  29. Rachel says:

    Kudos to everyone here who has spoken up on one of the ugliest realities inside the gay community, so ugly that if you notice, by my very rough count, thus far, only one of the white-on-white generators of this data have commendably approached the topic.

    When the data stares us at the face, “it’s just a preference and I’m not racist” just won’t fly anymore. And so most of those who are racially privileged in the gay world have simply decided to do the second best thing – say nothing and enjoy their privilege.

    I do not expect racialized conceptions of beauty to change in any of our lifetimes, for if Robert Loescher is correct, the structure underlying today’s racial hierarchies was centuries in the making. As was colonization. But, holders of privilege who are still human, at least feel the chastising sting of conscience if you’re not going to even try to open your mind.

  30. Einta says:

    Sarah: I’d argue that it’s an argument for Eugenics, rather than for genocide. I live in Alberta, Canada – a province that had an active Eugenics program from 1928 to 1972. That recently. Nasty business, but immensely popular among the rural farm-raised populace.

    I am uncertain as to what to say about the preference claim being unacceptable. Across the whole population, it’s certainly a major problem. Of an individual however, I am not certain that one can demand acceptance. Quite simply, I have priorities way above and beyond getting over such prejudicies (although mine aren’t about race, per se). Sure, it’s selfish – that’s a given. I (and I would expect, most people) care a whole lot more about being happy than about not being selfish. If I’m unhappy, I’m no good to anyone.

  31. Garland Grey says:

    I am a gay, white male living in Texas, and this data doesn’t surprise me in the least. I’ve seen the insular way white, gay men move through social events, only interacting with one another, and I’ve seen profiles that specify “White or Hispanic only” on dating web sites. I know none of you need a white man to tell you what you already know, but it is them, not you. The idea that these men and women are so sought after that they feel they can afford to discount large swaths of the dating pool is baffling to me. I mean, we’re already working with a percent of a percent of the people in the world, it is already hard enough to find someone that makes you laugh and likes the same movies you do – why hobble yourself and ignore other people at the same time, people who might be just right for you?

    It’s stupid, and there’s no reason for it, and I’m sorry.

  32. Chad says:

    I find it absolutely absurd for anyone to suggest that sexual attraction is the result of social conditioning. To subscribe to this argument is to play into the notion that “gay is a choice” which we all know is not true.

    Regardless of someone’s education, conversational abilities, worldly experiences or other positive personality attributes, most relationships are based in attraction which, at least initially, is an involuntary experience. To say that a white man is a racist b/c his preferences are for only white men is like saying a gay man is sexist b/c he’s not attracted to a straight woman. Is it exclusionary? Well yes! You find me one of the supposed “very attractive” people who have commented on this and tell them that they’re wrong for not being attracted to a morbidly obese person. Doubtful that would happen. The bottom line is, you can’t force people to be attracted to someone their not just because you think it’s not PC. In the age of cable television, movies, we’ve all gotten a little taste of what’s out there besides who/what we see in our respective communities.

    There’s a reason that profiles with pictures get more hits than profiles without, b/c our first cut which determines who we’re going to respond to is involuntary instant attraction based on individual preferences which often include physical build, facial attributes, and general appearance which for some includes skin color. It’s selective, it’s exclusionary, but it’s based on personal taste, not social conditioning.

    And for the record, yes I am a white gay male who has dated black, indian, hispanic, asian, and other white guys and I don’t fault people for going after what gets their juices flowing.

  33. ann says:

    I like the honestly in the results, do I like not really. But since I have preferences I can’t judge anyone else who does. For whatever reason the heart wants what the heart wants. You just have to count the cost and choice should I be open and have more chances or be closed minded with few choices.

  34. very says:

    Let’s not all lose faith in humanity just yet, as depressing as this data is (hispanic gay female here, btw)! Data coincides with race but it might not be race ITSELF that is causing the lack of response. It might be other things related to race! Being a different race sometimes might mean you are more likely to have a certain religious background, or certain political outlooks, or you might be into different things, and let’s face it, poverty and race tend to connect in terrifying ways as well! (I would love to see horrible capitalistic data…). So it might not simply be the color of your skin so much as things that are statistically (or just perceived to be) related to your heritage.

    Not saying that there isn’t blatant racism out there, I’ve seen profiles that specifically say they’re only looking for people of their own ethnicity or “not blondes” or “not blacks or latinos” or something equally bizarre and unsettling. That sentiment is definitely there, and I know I’ve seen certain people’s tone become excited or cautious when finding out I’m Latina, it does matter to people. But it might also be partially to blame on honest personal differences as well!Also, sometimes I find people expressing that they are afraid to date people of certain races because they’re unfamiliar with their culture and are afraid of offending them in some way, some people find it a complication on top of the already scary prospect of online dating.

    It’s horrifying, but it might not be as bad as it sounds! Maybe, at least I like to hope so!

  35. lilo says:

    i’m interested to know if gay women are biased against responding to bi women. also wondering if there’s any way to include data on trans people in this – might be tough considering there’s no category for them.

  36. Paul says:

    Middle Easterners, especially those from the Levant (Syria, Lebanon and Palestine/Israel) are desired by gay men because their looks approximate those of Europeans. And there’s a good reason for this: racially they’re Caucasian, albeit with darker features. “Arabs” in the Levant are actually a hybrid race: a mix of Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Persians, Turks and Phonetians. Sometimes the percentage of Arab blood (Arabs orignate from Yemen/Saudi Arabia) is actually very low, especially in Arab Christians. Take the people in downtown Beirut and plonk them in southern Spain and you wouldn’t see much of a difference between them and the Spaniards. As white European males are the benchmark of beauty, for reasons discussed in other posts, other groups that approximate their looks are viewed more favourably than those who don’t. Perhaps because Middle Easterners are a Caucasian hybrid they look healthier than their less mixed cousins in Europe, and are therefore sometimes viewed as more desirable.

  37. E says:

    In reply to Ohimitsu and others, I think that perhaps (some of) the reticence to respond to black males may just be that many black males don’t associate themselves with the “gay” identity, preferring labels like “Men who have sex with men” or “same gender loving”, and have lifestyles and values that are more in line with mainstream definitions of masculinity in the African diaspora (which includes being outwardly homophobic and having sex with women, and is partly to blame for the abrupt rise in HIV infections in black females). There can be a lot of drama/bullshit involved with dealing with someone who is homosexual but on the down-low, and there’s almost certainly no chance of building a life partnership.

    Which obviously sucks for gay black men who DO identify with the mainstream gay identity, but there’s not much to be done about this in the short term except to it happening and to try and combat the stereotype.

  38. Durkin says:

    I find my choices are based on first on beauty (most beautiful), then race (most hispanic/caucasian skin decreasing as the skin darkens), then sex (woman over man) and maybe age (younger woman/middle aged man). I’m male, white, hispanic, 46 and nearly 100% bisexual.

    You can see why I’d roll my eyes up if someone said I was racist. It’s a lot more complicated than that, even though I am making judgements on race. Race is a part of it, which would be tied to socio-economic background of the person. All other things equal, I would say no to poor and uneducated white woman, yes to rich and educated black man. Since that is the last choice I would make, I never get there, too many variables along the way

    Cameras are set up for photographing caucasian skin in terms of exposure. That could well have an effect on choice, given the success of the black guy off-line (real world!!) versus on-line (NOT the real world).

    Who knows what the ‘truth’ of the matter is.

  39. Brandon says:

    Might we also suppose that the lack of responses towards a certain race aren’t actually about race? It could be that what a person put into their profile itself may actually be what causes the racial in-equality…

    As a gay black male, I can say for sure that I’ve seen some profiles where other gay black men say some of the most unflattering, unattractive things in their profiles, and it’s usually quite egotistical. I know I’m not terribly attracted to that sort of thing.

    Furthermore, who really is to say if something is purely based on race? Yes, for sure, a lot of us on the receiving end of the “it’s just my preference” thing are likely to take that quite negatively, and that’s our right to be insulted. It hurts, but there’s no real justification needed there. Considering that also certain people may say certain things that aren’t considered attractive to others, and these certain people happen to be of a certain race doesn’t necessarily mean that all of that race gets shat on for whatever reason.

    All I am saying here is to inject a little more objectivity into our opinions of what these statistics mean, and to look at them with a little more of an eye for randomness to not draw certain conclusions. It could be that, statistically, we’re all looking from one perspective and not another.

  40. Really? says:

    Wow. Asian lesbians “In demand”? As an Asian American lesbian, this genuinely (and pleasantly) surprises me. I honestly thought other races would not be all that interested.

    Then again, I wouldn’t really know considering I have no experience dating. And I lack social skills. hah.

  41. Wade says:

    @ Brandon. Things don’t have to be “purely” about race in order to be about race. I’d argue that nothing is ever “purely” about race. Likewise, a phenomenon can be understood as being primarily or significantly about race even if it doesn’t affect all members of a given race. The problem with trying to discuss issues like those presented by okcupid is that some people think that presenting a possible alternative understanding negates the one presented in the study. For example, you mention one possible reason that some black men get few responses is because they present themselves poorly. I’ll agree with you on that. But there are plenty of men of all backgrounds who do the same thing. But you’ve only considered it a notable problem when black men do it.

    That point gets at a larger problem that I see here, using race as a proxy for other things that people find problematic. Durkin says that he is primarily attracted to white men and not to black men, but that his preferences are more likely rooted in his thoughts about income level rather than race per se. I would then ask, if his primary concern is about money rather than race, why not simply state that he prefers men with money to men who lack money. For some reason that I don’t quite grasp, he seems to feel that blackness is a valid proxy for poverty. Not only does this ignore the existence of black (and perhaps other persons of color) who aren’t poor, it also diminishes the problematic aspects of poverty for white men.

    That said, his choices are his choices, and he is free to make them. However, the fact that something is a choice doesn’t make it free of negative implication. Part of my anti-racist work has focused on acknowledging these types of racial double standards, and they occur frequently. Some of us notice when persons of color are poor, undereducated, rude, or whatever, but we seem to either not notice or forgive it when those same characteristics apply to white persons. Perhaps that is because we attribute negative characteristics in white persons to the individual (i.e. he’s just a jerk, or he’s just an idiot), but we attribute negative characteristics in persons of color to their racial group (i.e. black people are poor, black people are loud, etc.). I don’t have the answer. I don’t even know that there is such as thing as “the answer”. But i think conversations like this are really useful, and i’m glad to see it occurring here.

  42. John B. says:

    I’m most intrigued by the concept of “white attraction” for Middle Eastern people. Earlier someone supposed that it was due to the “hairy, dark, masculine, aggressive, etc.” qualities of the Middle Eastern male, but I have previously found myself attracted to Middle Eastern men who, typically, possess few to none of these qualities.

    Having spent the entirety of my youth in an all-white rural community with a typically hostile relationship toward people of other races, one might posit that I would primarily be attracted to other white males. While I am often times attracted to white men, this doesn’t explain my abnormally strong attraction to Indian and Middle Eastern men. What I found even ore strange is that, apparently, many other white men are attracted to Middle Eastern men as well, whereas my personal experience has lead me to believe that most white gay men I know are strictly uninterested in this group. As a person whose sexual maturation occurred post-9/11, I can say that I am an exception to the theory that Middle Eastern stigma exists among most/all young gay men with post-9/11 adolescences.

    I don’t know that I have much to contribute by way of discussion, I suppose I just wanted to put out my personal info as a sort of testimony to the veracity of this information.

  43. JP says:

    Christopher, you really hit the nail on the head. I, too, have done similar online social experiments on other sites. With all other things equal, guys consistently throw themselves on the altar of the fake white (or latino who looks white) profile. I have even gone so far as to respond rudely with the fake profile while greeting them politely with my real profile. In real-time, the black profile is consistently rejected and the white profile accepted.

    I can’t speak for other minorities, but I can say with confidence that this is not surprising to blacks. Dating rejection simply mimics the rejection we experience in our daily lives. When we are accepted we have to ask, “Am I being objectified/fetishized?” Sadly, it does not take much delving to find out that many times it is true. Even worse, the guy doesn’t realize he’s doing it.

    I am glad that these statistics were compiled. It’s nice to see some hard numbers to back up the anecdotal evidence we’ve known for years. The hard part is getting people to really look at the numbers and make a connection, as Christopher has done, with what they say and what they actually do.

  44. Wiseguynyc08 says:

    I am wondering how many factors are at play here.

    To be honest, I have never been attracted to the ultra chiseled modelly gay male stereotype (regardless of race), and have therefore never had a problem meeting people of diverse backgrounds (Normal people tend to be less vain). While I agree a trend is a trend and that the discrimination is very real, there are so many factors that go into reply rates with online dating I don’t know where to begin.

    I am biracial, black and hispanic, and am attracted to all races, though I grew up in a predominantly white environment. I know when it comes to members of the two races to which I belong, I shy away from profiles that contain even a hint of urban slang or are into stereotypical things. Then again I would shy away from replying to anyone exhibiting these characteristics, regardless of race.Then there is the fem versus masculine factor(prefer masculine), whether you are wearing makeup in your pictures (eeew, unless it is an actor’s headshot), whether you can spell, whether you are religious (prefer you weren’t crazy about church), whether you mention a book, music, or philosophy I can’t stand (i.e. Devil Wears Prada or Nietzsche, Lady Gaga mention on favorites is an automatic denial). Materialism and superficiality also a big no no.

    Needless to say I am picky about the subject matter in the profiles along with the man’s looks (Please note my standard of good looks conflicts with Madison Avenue). By the time I whittle away all of these factors, the pool I am actually interested in has shrunk to a degree that race is inconsequential. I am happy to find someone who I can have substantive conversations with and will get me. I guess if I was more mainstream this data would be an issue.

  45. Mario says:

    I think people are missing a potentially important point when discussing whether it’s racism (choice) or “just a preference” when it comes to these things.

    I don’t think that I can make myself get hard-ons for blacks at the same rate as I do for whites just by thinking “Oh that’s racist, I really oughtn’t do that”. I am attracted to black men sometimes – just not as often. Hell, my first sexual experiences were with a black friend. I don’t have anything in principle against dating black men.

    HOWEVER, it certainly isn’t unrelated to racism. Probably a more likely thing is that your attractions are affected by the media, and the people you’re surrounded with and interact with growing up, etc. That doesn’t make it simply a choice. It can’t be turned on and off like a switch.

    That is – non-whites interact with whites a lot more than vice versa, both for reasons related to social segregation and to the fact that there simply are a lot more whites than other groups in the US. That fact in itself probably explains a lot of the discrepancies. BUT those media depictions and the social segregation and so forth are also related to racism.

    So it can probably be explained both as directly caused by racism (i.e. you hate those races or you have negative opinions of them, therefore you don’t want to date them) and more indirectly (the racist structure of society has resulted in your involuntary sexual responses being “racist” due to patterns of social interaction). And then there are also situations where a particular race gets fetishized for a person, which can be coincidental (someone was in the right place at the right time) or also affected by racism.

    On the other hand, there’s probably also an effect of who you socialize with NOW – that is, perhaps if those white men spent more time around black men, they would become more attracted to them. Which would mean that while it’s not a switch that can be just turned on and off it’s also not outside of their power to change.

  46. Kitty says:

    Yay! “Gay Asian women are in the most demand”.

  47. Jane says:

    Not gonna lie. I’m a bi Asian female and I would date a black woman but not a black man. I would sleep with a black man, though.

  48. Carrie Leilam Love says:

    ok. no one should have to apologize for their desires. but we have to admit that we are conditioned to dominant beauty standards that shape those desires. i think people could do well to open themselves to find beauty where they don’t expect it. that said, i am not holding my breath for anyone to get there. i don’t feel rejected by people who don’t want to date black women because that quality in itself is such a turn-off I wouldn’t want to date them in the first place.

  49. Data Monger says:

    Would be interesting to see the rates of sending invites as well as the rates of reply. Even though (for instance), white men rarely replied to emails from black men, what percentage of initial emails did black men send to white men? The data divides out that number. It might reveal other biases in the data (low send rates equal high response rates for instance).

  50. Vandyalum10 says:

    I think we need to differentiate between preference and race-based exclusion. I have a preference for red heads; however, I will date and/or communicate with non-red heads. If you will not date or consider a person attractive because of race for example, that’s not a preference…it’s discrimination. I know that gays love to think of themselves as above reproach on these issues, especially considering they love to co-opt the language and culture of blacks (for example); however, this analysis and comments, reinforce the fallacy of this perception. A good for step to fixing this would be to buy a dictionary a look up the meanings of preference, racism, and discrimination. The next step would involve you honestly asking yourself is this a preference (see definition) or discrimination. If you feel you don’t have to apologize for your “preferences,’ then why do you? I have had guys respond to messages with “I am only into white guys. Sorry, it’s my preference.” The sheer ignorance of that statement prompts me to respond with something along the lines of, “Do you know what a preference is? Because, I am fairly certain you are just an asshole.” Maybe it’s my educated, blackness, or my southern upbringing, but I cannot abide ignorant people, especially, when I message asking about the city to which I have recently relocated.

    On a lighter note, I agree with illiniwatcher, when I apply my criteria for potential friends or dates, the pool of qualified candidates shrinks rapidly. I have grown weary of insipid homos and those people without a command of the English language (esp. when it’s the only one they speak). Stop trying to make nuanced excuses for this data. If you are simple enough to allow the media to tell you what is attractive then 1) you need a life and 2) I am too good for you. The media told me to, is not a legitimate reason to discriminate based on race.