Dear Fannie,

I'm a 21 year old gay Asian male living in a big ol' gay city. I normally have (or like to think that I have) a decent moral compass and do not play with or lead guys on. My problem is that whenever my self esteem dips down into the negatives, I reach out for the easiest of all GAM pacifiers - rice queens. I know that I'm leading them on, but without their attention (both in public and in the bedroom), I would've crashed and burned months if not years ago. I guess my question is whether I should feel this guilt. I know that they could also be playing up their role to get as much Asian ass as they desire... Am I a bad person?

Eagerly Awaiting Solutions (from) You

In light of manontheside and toughstuff's recent posts about sexual racism in the queer community, I'm really glad you sent me this question, EASY. So here I go, jumping on the rice queen bandwagon… Let's be perfectly clear: Sexual racism is real; especially so in the queer community. GAMs (gay Asian men for those of you out of the lingo) routinely are shoved to the bottom of a racialized sexual hierarchy, positioning (surprise, surprise) white men on top.

Just from my own experience and talking about attraction with friends, it's very interesting to see the ways that which nonwhites get compartmentalized. Asian men get written off because all of us obviously have small cocks, an incessant need to please, and essentially feminine/infantile (read: asexual). Black men often get the other side of the coin, being cast as paragons of male sexuality: huge cocks, hyper-masculine, and unhinged, wild (read: savage/primitive) sexuality. But in that same respect black men often complain about being only seen as sexual beings, and non-intellectual. White guys, conveniently get love for their looks and their shining personalities.

Obviously there are problems with this discourse. A) It homogenizes entire classes of people, B) Its overwhelmingly totalizing (thanks for trying second-wave feminism, thanks…), and C) it just sucks.

And then came the rice queen. The seeming savior of gay Asian men, everywhere, the rice queen offers us exclusive attention. No more competing with our superiors on the sexual hierarchy. No more rejection for our yellow skin and almond eyes. Instead we are desired, prized, worshipped even. Sounds like a great deal, eh? But like most "great deals" it's important to read the fine print.

Manontheside went through the bulk of the catch-22's with many rice queens: assumptions about small cock size, proclivity for bottoming, naivety (read: power imbalance), language skill (poor English/strong mother tongue, not English), an over-enthusiastic interest in Asian culture, the list goes on and on. But there is also a sense that rice queens aren't "real" men. A fetish for Asian men seems counter-intuitive. By choosing exclusively Asian men, they don’t enter the general gay economy, and therefore operate in an oft ignored niche market. It’s like comic book collectors. They are passionate about comic books and will pay large sums of money to get what they want; but… they’re kind of weird. [please note: I am by no means trashing on comic book geeks. I, in fact, am a gung ho comic book fan. BtVS Season 8 *squee!*]

So GAMs are faced with a paradox: sexual racism causes many men to exclude them from their sexual and romantic connections, and those men who do want to sleep with them stand the risk of being rice queens, negating any validity in the relationship that operates outside any kind of sexual fetish context.

EASY, it sounds like you've fallen into the rice queen paradox: Trapped between a racist and a fetishist. Here's my stance on the whole situation. Sexual racism is a reality that gay Asian men have to live with on a daily level (although it is definitely prevalent in other communities as well). Rice queens, on the other hand, have the luxury of being able to choose their desired partner, which is not always the case for gaysians. So, when you seek a rice queen for his attention, both public and intimate, no harm is being done… really. You get your rocks off and that ego boost that comes from being wanted. He gets his rocks off, satisfying his particular fetish for Asian guys. You only have to watch out for the seeds of a racist relationship.

One thing that’s easy to do in this kind of critique of rice queenism™ is to forget that rice queens are people too. There are plenty of guys who are “rice queens” in that they are attracted to and prefer Asian men. These are the good rice queens that treat each person they are with as people. It’s not oppressive to have preferences, as long as the door is open to other kinds of people. When rice queens go bad is when racist assumptions enter the fray that dehumanize and commoditize gaysians.

So, EASY, the long and the short of it is that you have to fight the power and deal with a lot of racist mofos in your search for partners. If indulging in a rice queen makes you feel invigorated, wanted, and alive… by all means, go for it! And you never know, you may actually find someone who you want sticking around.

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