Local launches website to help gay Asian men address racism and dating

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      No Asians.

      While at one time, such signs did exist in our city—in restaurants, movie theatres, and apartment buildings—they would be protested if anyone saw them on our streets today.

      However, such sentiments continue to exist online—such as on gay dating profiles.

      Just as many discriminatory attitudes are more freely expressed on the internet, within LGBT communities, preferences against Asian men are sometimes expressed more easily online than many may be willing to do so face to face.

      In response, a local resident has decided to do something to help out his fellow gay Asian men.

      While previous campaigns, such as Sexual Racism Sux, have been aimed at changing the behaviour of others, Edward Ho launched his website, TheDatingGAM.com, this month to help gay Asian men learn from the stories of others. (GAM stands for gay Asian male, and the website name is a play on The Dating Game.

      "This website is about an opportunity for gay Asian men who have experience dating to share something that's going to touch, move or inspire another gay Asian man who is struggling with…his dating life," he told the Georgia Straight at a downtown café. "This is really about community building and self-empowerment."

      After taking a professional and personal development course about inspiring change within communities, Ho chose to work on a project to address issues within the local gay Asian male community.

      Ho describes TheDatingGAM.com as a social resource website with stories about how some gay Asian men "not just cope but actually became really successful in dating".

      It's not a dating site, and Ho does operate a separate website that is exactly that: GayAsianMale.com.

      When Ho (who is of Chinese descent and is Malaysian-born but Vancouver-raised) came out over 20 years ago, he found the local LGBT community to be a confusing and unwelcoming place.

      "You kind of quickly realize once you start to date, just what type of community the gay community is overall. There's a lot of discrimination online; you go into bars, you're treated differently; and learning how to navigate that as a brand new gay newbie, coming out can be a little bit of challenge."

      He said he's heard numerous similar stories, and found that others have either developed coping strategies, given up and decided to remain alone, or simply continued to struggle.

      In contrast, he added that he has also encountered others who haven't experience any issues at all.

      "That is awesome," he said. "That's the story that the community also needs to hear because maybe it's not universal."

      However, he also said that he does find racial discrimination in dating and socializing can be difficult to identify or pinpoint if it's done indirectly.

      "It's hard to call it racism because it's so covert that you feel like you're just being excluded, like you're just not being invited to things," he said.

      He said he hopes someone else "who wants to explore this topic for themselves" will take over the website, as Ho has been in a longterm relationship for 20 years (and is raising a son with his partner).

      Anyone interested in contributing their story to the website can visit the website for more information.