A Filipino man has given a moving account of the discriminatory comments he’s experienced on the gay scene since he relocated to the US.
JC Brown is one of the latest contributors to one of our favorite websites: I’m From Driftwood.
The website acts as a portal for personal video stories from LGBTI people.
Brown grew up in Manila in the Philippines but relocated to New York in 2005 at the age of 21.
‘He just assumed I was kind of white. And then I said I was Asian’
His excitement at being in the US was tempered by the reaction he found himself getting from other men online.
‘I was talking to this guy and we were talking probably like a good hour.
‘We traded pictures but usually we trade not face-first, you trade your body pictures. And then, I mean I looked light-skinned in that picture for some reason and so he just assumed I was kind of white. And then I said I was Asian.
‘He said, “Oh. Sorry buddy. You know, you seem to be a cool guy, but I’m not into Asians.”
Brown said the incident had a long-lasting affect on his self-confidence. It was compounded by further hurtful comments he heard.
‘Three years after that, still with a defeated, you know, self-ego, I was on my way to Fire Island waiting for a friend of mine. We agreed that we’re gonna meet up at the train station.
‘I was waiting for my train and then I saw him coming through the aisle. And there were these two white guys in front of us.
‘Again, at first, they were chuckling and I didn’t know what the reason was. I just ignored it. Then they kind of like started pointing at my friend who was having difficulty walking through the aisle.
‘And then they started laughing because they said, “Look at that Asian guy going to Fire Island.”
‘And then one of them said that, “Who would fuck him?” So I kind of like you know, tried to tap one of them and I said, “Hey guys, another Asian guy behind you. Not that I’m eavesdropping but I think that was not funny.”
‘But they were nice enough that they apologized and they said, you know, “We were just joking, that was very insensitive of us”.’
‘If you call out people, you actually stop the behavior’
‘That was the first time I actually thought that, you know, if you stand up and then if you call out people, you actually stop the behavior or at least you feel that you did something for yourself.’
He says he has sometimes also faced comments from friends that have hurt.
‘One good example is while we were in Uber going to a party after pregame, they’re looking through their Grindr and then they’re like you know browsing through the boys. And then they saw this one picture of a guy and then they’re like, “He’s cute… hot” you know.
‘And then one of them said “He looks Asian. Move.”
‘And I said, “Guys, I’m right next to you. There’s only three of us here on the backseat. Now I mean, what do you mean by that? You know, I thought we were friends”.’
‘And they apologized, which is good because they’re my friends.’
‘But deep inside it does affect me. And it does affect how I see myself and how to communicate with other people. It is important for me to speak up for myself and for others because if I don’t and they don’t, nobody will.’
‘Take that difficult step to speak up for yourself’
I’m From Driftwood has been publishing stories to help build communities and preserve LGBTI stories for the past eight years. It will celebrate its eighth birthday with a party at the Stonewall Inn in New York City tomorrow (28 March).
It’s founder, Nathan Manske told GSN why he’d wanted to highlight JC’s story.
‘I’m From Driftwood is an online platform for people to share the stories that are meaningful and important to them. So it’s no surprise that a story was shared that addresses racism within the LGBTQ community.
‘In the five minutes it took for JC to share his story, he covered three instances of casual racism, from strangers and friends alike.
‘My hope with JC’s story is to raise awareness of the casual racism people might participate in, intentionally or not. But also, if you experience racism yourself, look at JC as an example and take that difficult step to speak up for yourself and others because that is what will create change.’