[dropcap]D[/dropcap]eficit: the amount by which something, especially a sum of money, is too small.
If perfect dating as whole were $1.00, then dating as a black queer and gay man would amount to about 5.3 cents. Just kidding, but not by a long shot. Dating in the black gay and queer community for me has been interesting to say the least. As a person who has never had a boyfriend nor been in love, I have the opportunity to still write much of my narrative that so many have already experienced. With that said, the rules and regulations that we stipulate upon ourselves in our community are unlike anything I have ever seen.
Take Jack’d for instance, the popular dating app used by many in the black LGBTQ community. I was on Jack’d for years, then left for about eighteen months, then decided to log back in to see what I may have missed. I hadn’t missed shit much to my dismay, but what I did notice was a trend throughout profiles that was different for me. “No fats, No femmes DD Free.” Splashed from screen to screen, profile to profile, this line is used to tell folk “don’t even come this way.” Now on one hand I get it. If it’s something you don’t like, then you should be able to say it and not get questioned for it. Then I take a look at this other hand of mine that wants to smack folk. This right hand of mine, tells a different story that goes like this.
The fragility of masculinity in our community is what helps dictate this narrative of “no fats or femmes.” I understand you like what you like, but to eliminate a whole community of people based on the perceptions of one’s effeminancy or size is discriminatory. Jack’d is a dating app, so I know much of it is based on attraction to one’s face and body and then figuring out the rest of their personality, but does it really hurt to just say hello? Is it too much to ask for that you don’t outright just tell folks “you’re to fat, or too flamboyant” to even say hi to me. That’s some fucked up stuff.
The second thing I see all the time now is “DD Free.” Sound off in 3…2…1…. What. The Fuck. Is DD Free some kind of cute way of saying “I don’t date people with HIV”? And I understand you don’t want someone who is on drugs, but you got “420” in your profile, so you don’t want yourself either? Oh that’s right, weed is not a drug but I’ll digress. I mean honestly, what disease other than HIV and AIDS are you referring to? Are we talking about rabies, the Plague, small pox, SARS, influenza, pneumonia? Those asking for someone to be drug-free, I can understand, but don’t ask of others what you are unwilling to do of yourself. Seriously folks, you can’t get HIV by listing the letters. Please read the Cliff’s Notes and realize that HIV, although serious, is quite manageable and people are living with it knowing and unknowing. “Disease Free” is also only as current as your last test and goes out the window with your first sexual experience after your last test. So if you are looking for someone who is “disease free,” they would need to be getting tested after every sexual encounter, plus accommodate for the window period which would equal virtually NO ONE! I get that you may not want to date a person that is HIV-positive, but be human enough to give the courtesy of saying that and not “DD Free.”
The deficit comes into play when you add all the factors of our community together and we eliminate our own potential dating pool based on perceptions of people and assumptions of the who, what, when, where, how, and why they are based on one aspect of their lifestyle. Femmes and Fats can’t be tops and are less desirable.
Personally the deficit has come up in a variety of ways. One is that I allowed myself to date or show interest in people that I know I don’t really want to be with, but, because of the limitations in the dating pool, I accept what they have to offer because at times it is better than being alone. Text message relationships, as I like to call them, used to fill the voids of silence throughout the day. “Good morning,” “HRU,” “How is your day”—on a daily basis with no real substance being exchanged. These relationships, that in person would amount to talking to paint on the wall, used to add some coins to “The Deficit.” The years, upon years, upon years, of hook-ups, one-night stands, FWB’s, dating (but not exclusive), “talking”—all just pennies, nickels and dimes trying to add up to the equivalence of what we really want, but always keeping us in “The Deficit.”
I’m tired of dating in a deficit. I’m tired of people having to feel as if they are undesired, unwanted, or pretending to be more of something they are not for the consumption of other men. I don’t know if this will be read by 1, 10, 100, or 1,000, but what I do know is that if you are reading this you need to ask yourself. Am I DATING in the Deficit? Or am I CREATING the Deficit. Like what you like. Love what you love. You may be a day late, but you don’t have to be a $1.00 short.
George M. Johnson is an HIV advocate who works for Us Helping Us, People into Living located in Washington, D.C. He has written for Pride.com, Musedmagonline.com, Blavity.com, Rolereboot.org, and Ebony.com. Follow him on Twitter @IamGMJohnson.