Q:

I’m a bisexual nonbinary Asian who grew up in Asia and currently studying in Vancouver, where is the first time I’m surrounded by many white people my age.

I’ve recently found myself having a pattern of crushing on white guys (the cishet part is also assumed). I’ve had two crushes that did not go well. One led me on and the other I found out he had an aggressive incident in the past.

I’m currently crushing on another guy that I don’t know really well, but now I just feel burnt out on having crushes. I don’t have a lot of experience myself, I don’t know how to date and I come from a completely different culture. I’m just confused why I keep crushing on white guys. Please help.

A:

Hello, fellow bisexual Asian!

I feel you hard on this one. First of all, you’re attracted to who you’re attracted to. As long as you feel safe in that attraction, you can let go of any guilt you may be holding onto. That’s just true across the board.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop and think about why you’re attracted to the types of people you’re attracted to. It doesn’t mean that you can’t expand and push the boundaries of your worldview of what makes someone attractive. It definitely doesn’t mean you can’t make a conscious decision about who to actually date.

It just means you can’t necessarily control for whom your heart thumps faster. Such is the central plotline of every lesbian romcom.

Let’s get into the white boy crush thing. It makes perfect sense that you’d be attracted to white guys if you’re living in a place that’s predominantly white. It’s who’s in your dating pool. Additionally, we’ve all been socially conditioned to feel feelings for white guys..or at least know that we should be having those feelings.

Regardless of where you live in the world, the image of the attractive white, cis, straight man is a prevalent symbol of power. White men own everything. White male actors are popular all over the world. There’s no question about whether white men are considered universally attractive. Even if you, like me, generally find most white straight guys annoying, if you’re attracted to men, you’re probably sometimes attracted to white guys.

On top of that, bisexual folks may find themselves in situations where they’re in relationships with straight partners. Heteronormativity is a real thing and it’s frankly quite easy to run into attractive straight people, most of whom will presume you’re also straight and cis, literally anywhere. Straight men are just out in the world approaching women or those they perceive to be women all the time. Some of them are decent, dateable humans, too.

Having crushes on white, cis, straight men may be about proximity more than a pattern. That’s OK. What I read into your question, though, is a concern about what it means to be attracted to straight white men for a queer Asian person. As well as an observation that these potential dates so far have turned out to be not-so-great people and, like, what’s up with that?

A lot of us deal with a personal history of internalized racism. I sure did and do. Growing up, I didn’t just want a white boyfriend, I wanted to be white. I always saw myself through a white lens of beauty and, thus, assumed white boys weren’t attracted to me and also was very, very naive whenever a white boy was attracted to me.

This may not be your experience, growing up in an Asian country. However, you should know this is the way that many white boys in Canada grew up, with racist stereotypes about Asian women, with fetishized ideas about Asian women rooted in colonialization and violent histories, thinking that Asian women are doll-like and passive and being attracted to that imbalance of power. Not all straight white men are gross predators with so-called “Asian fetishes,” but all straight white men were brought up in a white supremacist and racist culture that imbued them with these ideas about Asian women.

You’re not imagining that the dynamic between white people and Asian partners is uncomfortable. Regardless of gender and sexual orientation, there are a lot of white people who fetishize their Asian partners. Whether someone has a gross self-proclaimed Asian fetish or not, there’s always a worry that they’re interested in what you represent, not who you are. Even when you’ve met a really good, honest, kind white person who doesn’t have a history of fetishizing Asian partners, that worry’s still there.

On top of that, there’s the pressure within some Asian communities to date within your race. Not just the pressure from parents and family, the pressure from the larger world. Look at American celebrity, Constance Wu, and all the unnecessary shit she gets for dating a white man when, in fact, she advocated to delete a line from the film version of Crazy Rich Asians in which her character said she didn’t date Asian men. On top of all the white supremacy stuff, there’s a level of shame in dating a white partner instead of an Asian partner within Asian communities.

Enter you, a nonbinary, bisexual Asian person who’s suddenly getting heart flutters for straight, cis, white men. There could be a lot of things going on. It could be that you are being hit on by white men who are, on a conscious or subconscious level, attracted to Asian partners for racist reasons. It could be that you’re just meeting a lot of white straight guys because they’re literally everywhere around you and it’s cultural pressure that’s making you feel weird about it. It could be that you have some internalized racism or internalized homophobia or internalized transphobia to work through and that has drawn you to see cis white men as super attractive status symbols. It could just be a random occurrence that you have had three crushes on three hot straight guys in a row and maybe your next three crushes will be on hot Asian queer folx.

There’s nothing wrong with you for being attracted to white men. There are things you should watch out for to protect yourself from getting hurt by the wrong kind of white men. Watch out for things like race-based compliments, a history of dating only Asian partners, a history of intimate partner violence, and any sexist or racist behavior.

I don’t know what your queer community looks like for you in real life, but I’m also going to throw in this final bit of advice. Consider seeking out and immersing yourself in queer spaces as often as you can. If there aren’t queer Asian spaces available to you, look for BIPOC queer and trans spaces. You may find your crushes become more varied when you have more options to crush on. Not that racism can’t happen in BIPOC spaces, but you’re less likely to have nagging anxiety around white supremacy. I know finding those spaces in a new place can be hard. If you are still seeking out your queer community, you can start small-ish. Join an online community. Follow more queer and trans Asian folks on social media. Attend a virtual meet-up. You’ll definitely make some new connections and, just maybe, find some new cuties to crush on.