The Relationship between Race and Sexuality

In order to understand the relationship between Race and sexuality, we must first have a clear understanding of the two terms and at the same time have a clear understanding of society’s views about the two issues. Sexuality is a complex issue that affects everyone. People of different communities have a different understanding of sexuality (Nikki, 2003). It is a very important and natural part of growing up for all people. Sexuality comes with different forms of experiences ranging from changing body image, gender, reproduction, relationships, physical development, dating, Sexual behavior, and sexualization. According to the above illustrations, sexuality can therefore be defined as a desire to connect and have a meaningful intimate relationship with others (Kostas, 1998). Sexuality, therefore, is much more than sexual feelings and sexual intercourse. It has to do with other factors as mentioned above. And it also has to do with people being attracted to other people of different genders and issues of relationships. Sexuality is normally defined by our erotic fantasies, longings, desires, and the various sexual thought to be with someone. Healthy sexuality is considered to be an enriching and positive way in which we accept and give love, the ability to control and enjoy our reproductive and sexual health without fear, shame, and guilt (Kevin, 2001).

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On the other hand, the term race can be considered as a social construct; that is, they are physical and natural divisions among human beings in terms of their morphology. These differences are hereditary. Society uses terms such as white, black, or Asian to capture these differences. But Race is more social than biological (Toni, 2003). The fact that society uses terms such as white and black to refer to people shows that Race is more of a social term than it is biological. The terms that the society uses, such as black, white, Latino, or Asian, defines some form of social groups but not genetically defined branches of humankind. Racism in this context can therefore be defined as a rejection of a human as a specific individual. Each human being has his/her own individuality, and a rejection of this individuality can be referred to as racism. (Christa, 2003)

Each society has its way of defining sexuality, and the society is kind to people who go against the expected norms. It is even more difficult for people who are at crossroads, i.e., they stand at an intersection between sexuality and Race. Society is not kind to people whose habits differ from the “normal.” They suffer discrimination just because their sexual orientation is different from what society expects. This situation is very bad for people who are considered as minorities in any society. These people suffer because of two things: one is their skin color, and secondly, they are seen as deviants in society. That is going against what society considers normal. The people who suffer most in connection to Race and sexuality are gays and lesbians. This is especially so for the minorities groups. These groups include Chinese-Americans, Filipino-Americans, and African-Americans.

For example, the situation of a Chinese-American who is gay. Society considers the gay society as a society that has differed from the nature through their habits. They are considered as people who have differed from the mainstream. The Chinese- American gay is first of all rejected by society because he is Asian. This kind of person is a polymarginalised minority in the sense that he is discriminated against because of several factors. That is because of his skin color, the texture of his hair, body type, and his geographical region. In addition, he is discriminated against because of his sexual behavior. This shows that his Race contributes to him not being in a position to show and give affection to the people that he desires. A Chinese- American gay is considered as an outsider amongst other outsiders. This, therefore, affects the sexual health of such a person. Gays and lesbians are considered to be going against the normal sexualization process.

The process of forming intimate relationships is quite complex, and if one goes against what is considered normal, the situation is worse. This is because it affects even other forms of relationships, for instance, the relationship with parents. The sexual orientation of people is important in the development of human beings. Chinese parents who are traditional and deeply rooted in their ethnic community believe that homosexuality is linked to mental illness, psychosis, and AIDS (American Journal of public health, 2007). This notion prevents their kids from expressing their feelings. Gays and lesbians are unable to disclose their sexual orientation to their families. This is because of fear, shame, and guilt associated with it; for example, most Asian American families almost in the whole world condemn homosexuality. Therefore if a daughter or son discloses that he/she is gay or a lesbian, it would be considered an abomination. This is because they are first trying to survive in a world in which they are considered as minorities. So the Race of the people greatly contributes to the freedom of one being in a position to express his/her sexual orientation. Gays and lesbians of color have a problem choosing between their ethnicity and sexual identity. This is because they fear the risk of being discriminated against by their families and friends. Many gay men and lesbians suffer from dislocation from being disowned by their families.

Filipinos are considered to be more westernized than most Asian cultures. This means that gays and lesbians are able to express their sexual orientation more freely than other races. The Filipinos are therefore more liberal than other races. But as much as some of the Filipinos are more accepting, gays and lesbians still suffer some discrimination. The gay and lesbian communities do not exist in a vacuum, so society still criticizes the people. According to the Asian sexuality hierarchy, Filipinos are considered to be hyper-sexual. This, therefore, leads to some discrimination amongst the gays and lesbians themselves. The Filipinos are considered to be very exotic, thereby bringing some kind of discrimination just because of the Race and some beliefs related to that particular Race.

Homosexuality is at times not considered as part of sexuality, and as a result, the gay and lesbian community is normally overlooked. But it is true that the gay and lesbian communities are important parts of our society because that is not a choice but rather an orientation. This is according to how people have been socialized. Therefore the gay and lesbian communities also apply the same social dynamics just like those in the society. For example, gays tend to date people of their own races. For instance, Chinese date other Chinese, whites go out with other whites, and blacks with blacks. But still, there tends to be a standard of beauty, a “white” standard. Ideals of beauty are considered in gay society. Beauty and attractiveness are centered on the white standards of beauty. Racism, therefore, hinders and affects the gay community. The gay minorities have suffered the same mistreatment that is present in white racism.

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Colored youth also tend to suffer some mistreatment in their families and therefore leading to negative sexual outcomes. For example, research shows that there is more colored youth (gays) who are exposed to the risk of HIV than white youth. That is 3 percent whites compared to 16 percent and 7 percent blacks and Latinos, respectively. African-Americans involve themselves in risky behaviors that expose them to HIV compared to white men (American Journal of public health, 2007). This is because colored gay men and women are not easily accepted by their families and friends; they tend to be careless, thereby exposing themselves to risky sexual behaviors. Discrimination also put colored gays and lesbians at risk. This is because due to being marginalized, they trade sex for resources and money (Emily, 2007). Almost 60 percent have traded sex for other commodities. This is caused by the racial issues that affect colored gays and lesbians.

Sexuality is also concerned about the emotional development of individuals. The sexual orientation of a person also affects the emotional development of a person. Racism affects the mental health of both white and colored gays as well as lesbians. The colored gays and lesbians face a lot of discrimination and prejudice that they at times suffer from mental problems. But research has shown that the colored gays and lesbians have better coping strategies (Meyer, 2007). The colored gays and lesbians tend to deal with racism better than the whites. This is because they have been subjected to it as a result of their color. So when it comes to sexuality, they are able to handle the situation well than the white gays and lesbians. This is because they have not faced racism and its ills. The stress that is related to prejudice tends to increase the risk of mental illness (American journal of public health, 2007). The colored gays and lesbians have better and effective ways of dealing with homophobia and racism. According to the study conducted at Columbia University, it was reported that suicide attempts were reported early in life among the white and Latino gay men and lesbians. This shows that discrimination does exist among the gays and lesbians, and this affects their sexual and physical health. (Meyer, 2007)

A community is identified by its Race. This affects the socialization of people. For instance, a person is defined by his/her sex, identity, and the community. The sexual hierarchies of a community are then passed on to the people, and any one going against these is taken as not conforming to the rules and expectations of the community. So Race denies people a chance to exercise their sexuality. For Chinese American gays and lesbians are seen as opposing the set rules and requirements of the society by trying to conform to what is considered as “normal” they end up being frustrated and at times even causing mental illness. This is as a result of their particular Race denying them their individuality. This hinders the sexual development of different people who are not considered as “normal” by the society (Christa, 2003)

The above information shows that sexuality is affected by racism, a situation whereby one is not in a position to exercise his /her individuality freely. Homosexuals in America suffer discrimination. This situation is so bad for minorities in America who have to deal with added discrimination (Diaz, 1998). That is racial discrimination. The situation has negative effects among the gays and lesbians in America. Some of the effects of this discrimination against the gays and lesbians include: they have a lot of stress; this is because they are not able to disclose their sexual orientation to their friends and families. And at times when they do, they are disowned by their friends and family. Thus their lives are not enjoyable, whereas as human beings they are supposed to give and receive love and affection without fear, shame or discrimination (Diaz, 1998).

Gay men and lesbians suffer so much discrimination that they even have low self-esteem. This is as a result of rejection from family and friends. Gay men and women from the minorities groups especially suffer so much because at times they are rejected by fellow gay men and lesbians (Mays and Cochran, 2001). This rejection leaves them feeling lonely and out of place because they are not welcomed by their fellow gay men and lesbians. While they are supposed to be embraced, they are rejected by the society because of their Race and sexual orientation. This is because the society uses sexuality as a basis for cultural and social analysis. So if one is seen as going out of the mainstream, then the society does not welcome him/her. This desperate situation leaves them feeling bad making them have suicidal thoughts. (Mays and Cochran, 2001)

Sexuality should not be used as a basis of cultural and society analysis in isolation, other factors should be considered. For instance, sexual preference should not be based on the Race of a person. Each person should be in a position to express his/her sexual orientation regardless of his/her Race (Sharon, 1994). One should be able to give and receive love to whoever that person feels comfortable with regardless of racial restriction. Sexuality involves fulfilling, protecting and respecting the rights of every person (Christa, 2003). Sexuality also entails being in a position to have safe sexual experiences without discrimination, violence or coercion of any kind. And so far no one has positively identified the causes of a person’s sexuality whether it is bisexual, heterosexual or homosexual. So people should not discriminate and should not be discriminated. (Gary, 2001)


Christa, A. (2003), Gay Voices of the Harlem Renaissance, (New York, Indiana University Press).

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Gary, Okihiro. (2001), Common Ground: Reimagining American History, (London, Princeton University Press).

Gregory, Woods. (1998), A History of Gay Literature: The male Tradition, (New York, Yale university press).

John, D’Emilio. (1997), Intimate matters: A History of Sexuality in America, (New York, University of Chicago).

Kevin, Kumashiro. (2001), Troubling intersections of Race and sexuality, (London, Rowman and Littlefield).

Kostas Mysiades. (1998), Race-ing Representation: voice, History and sexuality, (London, Rowman and Littlefield).

Nikki, Sullivan. (2003), A Critical Introduction to queer Theory, (London, LSU Press).

Sharon, Malinowski. (1994), Gay and Lesbian Literature, (New York, St. James Press).

Toni, Lester. (2003), Gender Nonconformity, Race and sexuality: Charting connections, (London, University of Wisconsin).

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Valerie, Rohy. (2000), Impossible Women: Lesbian Figures & American Literature, (New York, Cornel University Press).

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