Vanilla Fever, Coliver, and the Revolutionary Nature of Brown LGBTQ Love

One person asked the question during the discussion that was centering on the unity theme at that moment why Black transwomen and Black transmen haven't been hooking up in relationships with each other.

It was a valid question, seeing that I know of Black trans women hooked up with long-term relationships with cis men and Black trans men doing the reverse with cis women.

Why haven't we seen more often the no-brainer situation of transmasculine and transfeminine people not only hooking up in long term relationships, but marrying each other? What is preventing us from doing that?

...As Precious Davis said in a comment on her Facebook page that accompanied the initial photo, 'Black trans men and Black trans women loving each other is revolutionary'.

It damned sure is. And we need to do a better job of role modeling the mutual respect and friendships which will allow that love to blossom and grow.
As many of you know, I am fan of ABC's How to Get Away with Murder. I started watching it for African-American actresses Viola Davis and Michaela Pratt, and I was overjoyed when Asian-American actors Conrad Ricamora and Arjun Gupta joined the cast as recurring stars.

Conrad Ricamora portrays Oliver, the on-again-off-again love interest of Connor Walsh (a white guy), thus the nickname "Coliver" from fans of the ship.  At first, I was happy because one 1) good-looking Asian nerd whom the audience fell in love with immediately, 2) a very skilled Asian-American actor who proved to be more than just a nice face, and 3) whenever Oliver got pissed at Connor, he didn't just curl up and cry; he showed it.  I'm talking hanging up on Connor, slamming the door in his face - all that good soap opera ish.

But their relationship began with Connor manipulating Oliver for information, and using Oliver's insecurities against him (i.e., checking out another guy when Oliver initially refused to divulge info, and after Oliver revealed he didn't normally get to speak to hot guys in bars).  Recent episodes showed those insecurities resurfacing again, with Oliver talking about how guys like Connor can have whomever they want and don't normally go for guys like Oliver.  Oliver also mentions what people must think when they see them together, and reveals he's basically fallen in love with Connor overnight and out of the blue, while Connor couldn't even bother to stay faithful.  And when Oliver is ready to kick Connor out once and for all, Connor lies and says he has a drug problem, and occasionally uses that lie to extort sympathy.

I was a huge fan of Coliver...until I started reading (you might want to settle in; it'll be a while).
As a child growing up in Singapore, Gilbert Cheah always dreamed of moving to the United States — so dazzled was he by the glamorous western lifestyles and people he saw on TV, in movies and magazines. Living in a former British colony with hardly any media of its own in the 1970s, Singaporeans like Cheah and his friends grew up on a steady diet of TV shows from the west and images of Caucasian models in magazines.

“So we had a very white ideal of what beauty is, what a guy should look like,” Cheah said. “I had always envisioned that I would move to the U.S., go to college, get a job, and have a white boyfriend.

“When I went to Boston, you could say I was a confirmed ‘potato queen’. I was only attracted to white guys. And I wouldn’t date an Asian guy because I didn’t find other Asian men attractive just as I didn’t see myself as attractive—because I wasn’t white.”

But while attending college in Boston, Cheah quickly found a part of his dream wasn’t so easily attainable. He realized that although he was attracted to white guys, the reverse wasn’t true.

“When I started going out in Boston to the clubs, I felt really invisible because no one was paying attention to me, even after being introduced to them,” he said. “I soon realized that just as I had this overwhelming preference for white guys, most of them had an aversion to dating Asian men. They just saw you as someone they were not interested in romantically, even if they were interested in being friends.’

...“It was soon evident to me that growing up in a society where all the media images were white had something to do with it. All the male models in magazines, the stars on TV and in the movies—they were all white. As a young person growing up in such an environment, your tastes and preferences become colonialized and you think the only standard of beauty is white.

“And that was the same reason why most of the white guys in the US weren’t attracted to Asians, because they too have shared the same media and have the same singular standard of beauty, which is mainly white.”

Many gay Asians have a problematic addiction to potatoes, aka white guys. I was there myself. For years, I always pictured the “ideal guy” for me to be a dashingly handsome white guy with the perfect features – blue eyes, sandy hair, and a bit taller than me.

Lucky for me, I woke up in time to smell the coffee. Many of my fellow gay Asians aren’t so fortunate. They stick to their proverbial guns and hang to the pipe dream of landing a white male model, even when they’re years past their dating prime.

If you’re a potato queen, I have news for you. You need to get over your addiction to white guys ASAP. Here’s why:

1. You need white guys more than they need you

For every white guy who’s open to dating an Asian, there are no fewer than 3 Asians fighting for his attention.

2. You’ll eventually get dumped for a younger, cuter Asian

White people invented the concept of leasing a car and trading it in when it’s old, and they’ve carried that concept over to their dating lives too.

3. Rice queens don’t care about you as an individual

...A rice queen is a special variety of white guy that primarily (or exclusively) dates Asians. You may think that you’ve hit pay dirt when you land a rice queen, but you should beware – they only like you because you’re Asian.

White guys become rice queens because they like smooth skin, smaller bodies and what they perceive as more submissive personalities of Asian guys. When a rice queen sees you, he notices only those features he’s attracted to, not necessarily your other qualities.

4. Potatoes age faster

White guys age faster than us Asians, at least on the surface. Caucasian skin tends to be thinner and looser, and more susceptible to wrinkling at an earlier age. White men also gain a considerable amount of weight sometime after their early 20s, and that weight gain continues steadily until middle age, at which time it’s pretty rare to find a white guy who doesn’t have a visible beer gut.

5. You will end up old and lonely

For all the reasons above, you’re unlikely to land the white guy of your dreams. And even if you luck out, it may be short lived.

A disproportionate number of my old, lonely gay friends are Asians and the one thing they share in common is a strong preference to date exclusively white guys. Year after year as they age they become even less attractive to the white guys who, as we’ve seen, have plenty of younger, cuter Asians to choose from.

“People assume all the time that I’m a crazy bottom,” Jason, a 28-year old Asian American in Los Angeles, says. “What bothers me the most is that I find myself attracted only to white guys, but I never asked myself why until earlier this year. When I go into a gay bar, it’s as if all the other Asian men view me as competition. We’re all looking for white men who might have an attraction towards Asians. It’s sad there is a biased view about gay Asian males that even I’m starting to believe –we’re always going to be with on old white guy, or, we’re somehow conceived as less masculine, therefore we’re going to always be a bottom. It’s not true.”

...According to an individual study from the blog, a blogger loaded Grindr on two different phones – one posing as a white man, the other an Asian man, both equivalent in body type. Their profiles were exactly the same in despite of their racial difference. In the end, the “white guy” got twice as many messages than the “Asian guy.” Some messages asked for a face pic then after seeing that he was Asian, they responded with “Sorry. Not my type.” When he’d message the same people who rejected the Asian guy, this time as the white one, he was bombarded with cockshots and explicit details about what they were into.

Hookup apps have made us realize how truly racist we are when it comes to dating. I never knew how bad it was until I started advertising myself on such apps. Reading profiles that say “Sorry. I don’t do Asians” or “Not into thugs” or “No fatties or fems” make a person second-question their place in society, but more so, their chances at finding love.

I'm a 25 year old gay Asian male, and I have noted innumerable instances of racism and discriminatory attitudes frequently directed at non-white gay men by gay white men.

To clarify, I'm not talking about sexual partners or hookups. I'm referring to the method by which many gay men select, or exclude friends or platonic relationships. Sadly, I've noted that many gay white men in Austin will exclude non-white from their social circles and the reason for such exclusion is because the individual is not white.

Perhaps this goes more with the superficiality of gays in general in that gay men do not like to associate with people they deem unattractive, and because minorities are almost always viewed as less desirable in the gay community, they are shunned. (This is an entirely different ugly subject that I could get into, but I won't).

When I hang out with straight people, my ethnicity rarely acts as a barrier in interactions. When one friend introduces me to another in a conversation, I'm not dismissed because of my ethnicity. It seems that overall, "straight society" (if one could even call it that) is a lot more color-blind than "gay society."

Hanging out with gays, though, my ethnic background has become a huge liability. First, at gay bars, bartenders frequently ignore minorities that have been waiting and go straight to the white guy that cut in line.

I once saw this happen to a black guy, who calmly asked why he was ignored, while several white guys were served drinks before him, even though he had been standing there longer. I was shocked when he was grabbed from behind and forcefully removed from the premises
. (Source)

Whenever I come across a hot Asian couple -- as in a couple that consists of two attractive people of full Asian descent -- it's akin to witnessing a solar eclipse. It doesn't happen much, at least not in my L.A. bubble, but it's always a pleasant surprise.

...I live in Westwood, right next to UCLA (which stands for "U C Lotsa Asians"). Walking to the gym every day, I notice that the campus seems to be coupling grounds for one particular type of interracial pair: the white person and the "hot Asian." This is by far the most common interracial couple that I see in California.

Now, is this wrong? Of course it isn't. Love between consenting adults is always beautiful, and it should be celebrated in all its forms. No one should ever feel ashamed for loving someone, regardless of gender or color. Besides, "hapa" (meaning "half Asian, half white") people tend to be ridiculously attractive, so it's (probably) not an offense against nature.

...But this is still a trend worth overanalyzing. So let's overanalyze.

Gay culture, of course, has a lot of snarky fun with this phenomenon. A "rice queen" is a white gay man who has a strong proclivity for gay men of Asian descent. A "potato queen" is a gay Asian man who returns this exclusive attraction to his white admirers. But my favorite label has to be "sticky rice," a hilarious title for a gay Asian man who only dates other Asian men. Sticky rice is the forbidden carb of rice queens.
Reading these thoughts and recollections reminded me of when we were talking on the Narrative about how Yellow Fever is a popular term and admittedly a serious problem, while White/Vanilla Fever is nothing short of an epidemic, yet the term is barely ever used.  We also talked about how when white people want to be with each other, it's the natural order of things, both in media and in real life.  However, when POC choose to be with each other, there's suddenly an "issue."  There are obstacles, complications, and plenty of avoidance when discussing as to why that is - both in media and in real life.

So once it all started coming together for me (in the long-winded, convoluted way that things do), I was immediately reminded of that excellent post from Trangriot, whose excerpt I posted in the opening.  Seeing healthy brown* hetero love is profound and eye-opening, heartwarming and inspiring.  Seeing healthy brown LGBTQ love, however, is revolutionary on a whole other level.

Male activists and politicians often talk a good game about how a country can't move forward until its women are completely liberated and treated like equals.  In a similar vein, the progress of POC across the world will grind to a screeching halt until our LGBTQ kin are loved and respected as is their due, recognized for their incredible strength, and constantly reminded to never settle, for they are no less than anyone else.

See Also

#Tindia #FTW #Empire

*I don't have time to dice brown people into subgroups.  We're brown, damn it.


  1. Although this story is focused on the attitudes of Asians and other POC's in the LBGT community, it can also serve a purpose for people who are straight.

    It wasn't that long ago Rose Z remarked on Empire and how Tiana's ( Serayah McNeill) character 's girlfriend would have been Black. Though I'm straight, the message behind pairings are the same; It would have been nice if Tiana could have had a Black girlfriend. It's not that I'm anti-mixed relationships, I have no problem with them,but I haven't to too many pairings on TV since the Cosby show. While it's good that IR couple on TV is being shown more and more, it also would be nice if they showed single raced families/couples as well. It's a reality that I know and other's who do as well.

    Reading this reminds me of the reality some people face with the IR/AMBW blogs. One would get the impression that the world is automatically "interracial" because Kerry Washington is involved with a powerful White ( unfortunately) married man, Bi Rain discreetly getting in a romantic affair with Naomi just seems that soon as some of these shows come on, for some bloggers... the dating ones just seem that some people just have this " come- and- get-it" mentality, giving people the impression that it would be easy for POC women to instantly get any non-Black man of their dreams without obligation only to be puzzled of why it's so difficult for some of them to grasp why some of these guys haven't approached them with the admiration they desire.

    Gay or not, the assumptions that you're an exceptional minority among White men can be deceiving. Just like that young Singaporean guy experiences assuming that White men was going to accept him because of his impression of them were, there are many people who also have this same thought. I mean..I look at some women who have this thought of how a White or some other non-Black man is supposed to be and as I just that mixed dating/marriage is growing, some some of them really think that the age of single raced love are a thing of the past or that they're interested in living in diversity,but sadly half the time , they "love " isn't alwayss reciprocated.

    While mixed raced unions should be celebrated, single raced ones should also be the same. There are some people who are so pro-mixed couple that they think being our case..Black/POC is a figment or in some cases..a necessity. Sometimes, I get mad for some BWE bloggers who assume that I'm anti-Black man and that Black women should date out because they're lives will be better with a White/non Black man. Just like Black people will say we're not a monolith, not all Black folks experiences are a monolith. I grew up knowing the truth about Black love.. people who have been married to their husbands/wives for an eternity until they died, how I see Black men/women ratchet/good still dating/ marrying other Black people as well as mixed unions, some working hard to provide for their families , who took care of their communities and never spoke badly about their fellow man/woman. I don't know about anybody else, but all of the horror stories read about Black men isn't how I knew it.

    1. Exactly. Rose Z's comment, in part, inspired this post. Why couldn't they cast a beautiful black woman to portray Tiana's girlfriend? Why wasn't that a thought, and if it was a thought, why was it cast aside?

      It's times like this that I am deeply grateful for shows like Blackish, Cristela, Jane the Virgin, and Fresh off the Boat because of the portrayals of healthy intraracial couples, but what about healthy intraracial LGBTQ couples who are same-sex or both trans? Why is sticky rice a forbidden carb? Shouldn't it actually be the first/most likely option before you think to order anything else?

  2. I agree, but didn't Jamal start to like the new gay Black cameraman (in Empire)? I'm exaggerating a bit, they might not date but seeing them chatting and supporting each other was nice.

    And it's true that Connor didn't treat Oliver right. I like Oliver's character but I couldn't support the Oliver-Connor relationship. Now that Connor is trying to treat him right, all of a sudden Oliver has a STD...please HTGAWM's writers, leave Oliver alone. He's been used as a tool and now he's sick? Just like Nate was used and now is in jail and geting beaten for no reason.

    Anyway, back on topic. As for the LGBTQ community in the media, I haven't paid much attention but I agree. As much as I can imagine feeling a bit alienated by your own ethnic group because of your homosexuality, it's not a big enough reason to only go for interracial relationships and find yourself unattracted to your own. Intraracial LGBTQ couples are cute and should be more visible, in real life and on TV.

    1. Now that Connor is trying to treat him right, all of a sudden Oliver has a STD

      I think it's a setup. It's that old story about two friends/lovers go to a clinic and get tested together, and there's a mix-up with their results.

    2. Gotcha. I hope so.

  3. It looks like we will be getting some black love or at least some action for now on Empire in the form of Jamal and ( the filmmaker Lucious hired) Ryan played by Eka Darville, they even kissed last episode.

    Now back to the topic at hand. I find it very odd that a Black couple or two same race POC couple is no longer even a guarantee on a predominantly Black or POC tv show. Remembering the tv shows from the 2000 on back seeing an interracial couple was rare, now seeing same race POC is. I guess this is Hollywood's idea of progress POC "being allowed" to be with white people because to me that is sure as hell how it looks. Once again POC being "rewarded" with whiteness. In a world where POC are constantly fed messages of how we should hate ourselves and each other and worship whiteness, loving each is a threat, in a world where non heterosexual people are taught they should hate and be ashamed that they aren't straight, loving themselves and someone the same sex as them is a threat, now when put the two together POC LGBTQ loving themselves and another person same race and sex as them that's an even bigger threat.

    1. That Eka..lordie! but I had no idea they were even having a relationship thought they're were subtle hints that it would be going in that direction. Maybe it was me seeing to deeply into things but he ( Eka) gave the evil eye towards Estelle when she and Jamal was singing together. I'm also curious about Andre ..poor thing... there was a upcoming scene where he looks to wanting to kiss Jennifer Hudson. It may be a spontaneous kiss or something more. though it would be totally wrong for Andre to do that to his wife.

      Yep..welcome to the 21st century where Black love no longer exist to some people. You're right. I remember there was a time where you could barely find a mixed couple on TV and if you did,they wouldn't be on the show for much longer. Now that you see a little more mixed could couples on TV, Black on Black couples are no longer the " norm".

      Though I love me some Empire, I will give 50 cents come credit when it comes to his show Power, Omari Hardwick( ironically he has a White wife)'s character is married to a beautiful Black woman and have a Black family . Even though his character lives a neurotic drug dealing life, he managed to main his family..a positive feature that seems to be absent in may shows these days. That is one thing 50 should smile about.

    2. now when put the two together POC LGBTQ loving themselves and another person same race and sex as them that's an even bigger threat.

      Precisely. It's the bigger threat. Which is why The Whiteness Reward is marketed so heavily to them.


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