We first filmed Nelson Moses Lassiter six years ago, when he shared a story about the racist pitfalls he encountered in the dating scene. We caught up with him again recently and got to hear his thoughts on what’s changed, what hasn’t, and how we all can live more harmoniously.
Transcript provided by YouTube:
For this week’s Story Update, we’re going to be speaking with Nelson Moses Lassiter.
And before we do, let’s take a look at his story now that we filmed almost six years
Let’s take a look.
I’m Nelson Moses Lassiter, I’m from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
When I came to terms with my sexuality, it took a very long time.
I used to just debate with myself back and forth and I used to, I was actually angry
that I was gay and I was angry at God for making me gay, there were just so many things
that were going through my mind.
So when I came to terms with everything, I wanted to go out and just meet guys and make
friends and kind of find my place in the world, knowing that the world that I came from just
wasn’t the one for me, it wasn’t accepting.
Eventually I started meeting people and making friends and there was this one time I was
actually just chatting with this one guy and the conversation was going great and there
was definitely a really cool connection there, there were a lot of similarities and I said,
“Oh, do you want to grab a drink some time?”
And he goes, “You’re really sweet, you’re really nice, but I don’t date black guys.”
He was just like, “Well, they’re just not my type.”
I was like, “Well what does that mean, you don’t like me because I’m black?
And he was like, “It’s okay, though, I have a friend who’s into black guys.”
And I was like, “What does that mean?
What does it mean to be ‘into’ black guys?”
I met this guy and, his friend, and I was like, “So what is it about black guys that
He said, “I like the way that they look and they way they talk, the way they walk,
the way they wear their pants down low.”
And I was like, none of this has anything to do with an actual black person, this is,
these are stereotypes and these are just preconceived notions and things that you hear.
It wasn’t that he liked black guys, he was into the idea or into, it was more like an
object of affection or a fetish more than actually liking the person.
It was at that moment when I realized, “Wow, this is another thing.”
So what is this world that I’m slowly becoming a part of because it was the complete opposite
of everything I was expecting.
On the flip side, what made things even crazier was that my black friends were upset with
me because I was dating someone that wasn’t black.
I had this one black friend who was still in the closet, he was actually rather upset
at the fact that I was dating a white guy.
We were hanging out and I was telling him about this guy and he was like, “Why are
you dating white people?
You know that they don’t like us.”
I was like, “What do you mean they don’t like us?
Because I’m dating someone who likes me a lot, so what are you getting at?”
And he goes, “What, do you think you’re too good for your own race?”
He basically said that I was a self-hater and I didn’t like black people or I didn’t
like who I was and I wanted to be someone else because of the fact that I wasn’t dating
my own race.
These experiences happened less within like half a year.
It was like all these new things that were coming into sight at such a fast pace in such
a short time, I was just like, “We need a lot of work.”
We can’t be seen as a group of people that want to have a unified message of equality
and no discrimination if we ourselves are dividing ourselves through whatever methods,
whether someone is feminine or someone is masculine or someone is black or someone is
If we continue to create these own divisions within our own community, we are no better
than the ones discriminating against us.
And it’s extremely important because we have to change the way that we think.
We have to change our own minds within our own community, open our own minds before we
can expect other people to open their minds to us.
All right, Moses, thank you so much for taking the time to join us.
How’s it going?
I mean, we’re in a, you know… considering the pandemic, we’re good.
I guess this all we can really hope for at this point.
So your story touched on some really important stuff.
And you know, like I said earlier, we filmed that or published it almost six years ago
and six years is, you know, a long time in certain ways and not so long in other ways.
Have you had any more experiences like that since then about that… you know, the date
– actually two things.
One was the guy who said, you know, “I’m into you, but…” you know, the preference
guy who said he’s just not into black guys.
And then also your friend who said, you know, “Why are you dating white guys?
They’re not into us.
You should just date black guys.”
Have you had any sort of similar experience comparing to either one of those guys?
Well, I think, first thing I want to say is thanks for bringing me back.
And, you know, I love the work that you guys are doing.
And creating these personal stories that others can relate to, I think is really, really great.
And it just reminds us that, you know, we aren’t alone in our experiences.
So I really appreciate you and your organization for doing that.
For me, I would say the – it’s crazy to believe that was six years ago.
In a way, things have changed.
In a way, things haven’t.
I would say the biggest change is that I feel that people are more aware of a lot of the
racial inequalities that are happening around, you know, that happen within this country.
And I think that the gay community is definitely more aware of these things.
I think what has become harder is being aware of our unconscious biases that we may have,
and what is it actually triggering those, those biases – I mean, that bias.
You know, and I think, you know, given a lot of the things that’s been happening in the
climate racially, you know, it has allowed us to, you know, take that mirror and, and
look at ourselves.
In terms of, you know, my own personal experiences and how things have changed, I think, the
more and more that I’ve grown as an individual and just experienced various aspects of the
gay community, I think that, you know, that level of discrimination still exists.
You know, whether it’s blatant or whether it’s, you know, on apps or anything like that.
You know, it’s… it’s not just, you know, black people, but it’s all people of color
that deal with various levels of discrimination.
And it’s not just people of color, but then it’s also, you know, transphobia that exists
within the gay community.
And I find it rather fascinating that a community that’s supposed to be united still has its
own self-created divisions within.
And, for me, it’s more about trying to understand where it comes from.
And, you know, a lot of it, I really think it comes down to just, you know, what we see.
Our world is crafted so much by, you know, what we take in and what we visualize.
And when you look at gay media and when you look at the way gays were portrayed in the
media, you look at, you know, the gays that are getting all of the views on an Instagram,
or you look at, you know, the gays that are having the most watched, you know, videos
omn PornHub or whatever.
I’m just being honest because he’s all of these things really factor into your psyche
and how you see the world.
And a lot of it is this – the stereotypical, you know, White male Midwest look.
You know, it’s – and I have nothing against that, but I think that people need to understand
how, you know, representation can actually change the way people see the world in themselves
And I think that, you know, for me, this is just kind of like how I rationalized why we
have these… these divisions and why we have these unconscious biases, because it’s what
we’re being fed.
And, you know, the best way to really change that is to start from within.
Me personally, it’s so interesting because I grew up in Philadelphia and then I lived
in New York for a lot of my adult life and then I moved to LA.
And what I found really interesting about LA is that I was actually…
I felt more aware of my ethnicity and my race and LA than I did, you know, when I was in
New York and I thought that was really interesting.
Can I ask you a question about that?
‘Cause I feel like New York and LA are both fairly diverse cities.
What was the biggest… what was the big difference that you felt in LA besides New York?
Well, the first big difference is that in New York, You know, a lot of neighborhoods
are integrated and you’re kind of forced to integrate.
You kind of have no choice, especially when you think about, you know, everyone taking
the subway or the Metro, you know, they’re… you’re forced to be around people that are
just different from you.
You can’t stay within your own bubble.
In LA, you know, it’s a car-based city, so you can live in a particular neighborhood
that could be predominantly one ethnicity.
You can get in your car and you have a planned destination.
You’re never really forced to confront things.
Another thing is that, you know, I felt like – I feel like the neighborhoods in LA are
definitely more racially segregated than neighborhoods and New York.
And a lot of that really is just kind of, the remnants of, of red lining, to be honest.
And, you know, but that red lining then leads into, you know, social economic factors.
You know, if a poor neighborhood has, you know, a, you know, a primarily low income,
then those taxes that would be given to, you know, the school system, you know, to provide
an education – there’s not that much money there.
So there’s less of a, you know, a better education that those individuals can see and it permeates,
but that’s just kind of going into the weeds of it.
But, you know, when I came to LA, I was much more – I was confronted with that just because,
you know, coming from, you know, New York, where, as I said before, you’re really just..
And you know, you do still get your neighborhoods that might be more Latino or more African
American in New York.
But for the most part, it’s very, very diverse.
And in LA, you know, LA is diverse, but it’s diverse in neighborhood.
And, you know, you go to… let’s say you go to a gay bar, you know – and I don’t really
don’t care if anyone’s gonna try to argue with what I’m about to say here, but it’s
very true – you know, you’ll see that there are, you know, people that only hang around
people that look like them.
And I’m not attacking them for it.
I’m just saying it’s an observation.
You know, and that says something because if you’re only around people that look like
you, you’re only getting one perspective, you’re going getting one, you know, you’re
only experiencing one culture.
You’re only experiencing one subculture.
And I think that does more harm for the community than good.
When I first came out and I went to a gay bar, you know, I experienced, you know, those,
those moments where, you know, that were kind of reflected in the previous video.
And I thought that, you know, I really hoped that that was an isolated event.
I really hoped that, you know, it was just those individuals that I encountered.
But what I began to learn is that even though it might not be everybody, there is a, you
know, a strong part of the community, a large part of the community that really thinks along
And it’s really, really hard to, you know, figure out how to break that down and why
And it just kind of, you know, I kind of came to the conclusion that just because you’re
gay, doesn’t separate you from having, you know, a racial bias.
And it really comes down to that.
It’s the racial bias.
And for me, it’s like, listen, you can say you have preferences or this and that.
You know, the best way that I describe it is like, let’s say you like apples and you
like green apples.
And let’s say you have this bushel of apples in front of you and it’s red apples.
Now my philosophy is this: let’s say you prefer the green apples, you know, and if you see
them definitely go for your green apples.
But if you’re only given a barrel of red apples and you say, You know, I would rather starve
than eat this apple.
That is where there’s a problem because now it’s like, you know, this, those red apples
provide you that same level of sustenance, but just because it’s not the color you want,
you would rather have that work… you know, you’d rather that be a detriment to you.
And that’s what I find, which is rather fascinating.
And honestly, I don’t have the answers.
The best thing that I can do is, you know, lead by example and show that listen, Love
We practice that.
We say that.
So we need to mean that.
Love shouldn’t have any racial bias.
Love shouldn’t have any weight bias.
Love shouldn’t have any bias towards how an individual was born.
You know, people give the argument, they’re like, Well listen, it’s a preference.
Just like me liking men.
It’s a preference.
Well, let me tell you something.
Liking men is not a preference.
That’s your sexuality.
You’re not choosing to like men, you are attracted to men because of your sexuality.
Now, if you’re Bi, that’s different, there’s a scale.
But you know, the preference argument is something that I find that’s deeply flawed.
And a lot of people hide behind that.
Now my outlook and my state – you know, my thoughts on this is, is not an attack.
It’s more about, you know, just, just be aware.
You know, and just think about why is it that you feel this way about one thing and feel
this way about another thing.
You know, especially when you know, race is in itself a social construct that does not
So what would you say to someone who – you know, earlier you talked about this scenario
and what you observed at the bars in LA, where it is a little… like, people are hanging
out with people who look like them.
What would you say to someone who is watching this and hears that and they say, “Well,
it’s, it just happens.
You know, like I just happen to have white friends and I just happened to hang out with
people who look like me.
And I just happened to date people who look like me, of my own race.”
What do you – you’re story has inspired a lot of comments and a lot of comment threads
and disagreements and – and not in a bad way – really good conversations have been happening
on your story.
So what do you say to them who say, you know, “It just happens that way”?
I would say that nothing just so happens.
The world is a very diverse place.
You know, and if you want to take ethnicities into account, let’s be honest, you know, Caucasians
or white people, however you want to describe it, they are actually the minority in the
world, the grand scheme of things.
And, you know, if you think about, you know, census reports that have been coming out,
they’re saying that, you know, within the next few years, you know, Latinos will be
the dominant ethnicity in the United States.
So to say that it just so happens that this are just so happens that that is that, you
know, I do think in a lot of ways that is an excuse.
You know, there are parts where I’ll say, listen, if you grew up in a small town and
that’s all that exists in the town, then yeah, I can understand that.
But when you’re living in a major city, you know, and let’s say you’re new to that city
and you don’t have many friends and you’re trying to build a friendship circle, you know,
having all white friends is not something that… that just so happens, especially when
you are, you know, surrounded by pockets of diversity.
The real question is, do you have any interest in, you know, having friends that don’t look
like you or, you know, come from the same town or the same ethnicity as you.
And that’s where it really comes down to is taking that, you know, having that honest
question with yourself, And if that interest is not there, then the real question is why.
You know, my take is it’s not – I’m not here to attack or condemn or, you know, make someone
feel bad about the decisions that they’ve made butm you know, I’m from the mindset that
the world is colorful and it’s diverse and diversity is beautiful.
I would have rather they’re live in a mosaic then, you know, everything painted in one
And the truth of the matter is the world is diverse and you’re doing yourself a disservice.
If you’re not, you know, taking the opportunity to capitalize and learn that diversity, you
know, there’s something that is hypocritical about your outlook.
If you’re the type to say that, you know, all black lives matter and black lives matter
yet you have no one in your life that is black – what does that statement really mean?
What do you know about black lives that makes it matter to you?
And that’s really what it comes down to, you know?
Nothing happens by – nothing is happenstance when it comes to picking and choosing your
friends, because those are decisions that are made with intentions.
And those are the same intentions that are made when you’re, you know, looking for a
Everyone has these decisions, you know, intentions on what they want and what they like.
And I’m not saying that everyone should, you know, date someone that looks different from
I’m saying, you know, at the end of the day, you like who you like.
But to only limit yourself with a, you know, to only limit your decisions and your, your
pref, you know, these people that you date or make friends with based off of preference,
I think is an unconscious bias that is rooted in racism.
And I think that it’s something that really needs to be explored, whether you choose to
accept it or not.
You know, being gay, doesn’t exempt you from being a racist.
And that is, I think, is the hard truth.
We have a lot of, you know, Black Lives Matter fans, you know, which are, you know, going
around masquerading as Black Lives Matter but they’re secretly Karens in training.
And I think what’s really important is that you take the opportunity to not look at people
bringing this to your attention as an attack, but actually bringing it – bringing it to
your attention as something to be aware of.
You know, for a really long time people would, you know, look at the Black Lives Matter movement
and would say, Oh, it’s just a bunch of noise.
This isn’t something that’s rarely going on.
And then finally, once they started to actually listen, they realized, Oh, this is something
that’s really going on.
We should actually pay attention to this.
What can we do to change this?
So in that same way they think about, you know, the discrimination that’s happening
within the gay community.
Think outside of your comfort zone.
If you hear a lot of people ranting and talking and saying that this discrimination exists,
don’t dismiss it.
Actually think about it and figure out why is this happening?
How can we change this as a community?
Because only then can we truly, truly, you know, stand by our statements that love is
And we all deserve equality.
We have to – again, as I said in my earlier message, you know, those many years ago, we
can’t expect other people to give us the love and respect that we feel that we deserve,
if we’re not giving it to each other, It seems as though the easy and fun sometimes
work it’s to go to the protests and the marches and, you know, it’s all outward, but the most
important work and the more difficult work is to look inward and see what, you know,
what any involvement that you have in… whether it’s internalized racism or homophobia or
any negative feelings towards any group of people, that’s really where the important
where it comes from.
One hundred percent.
And also earlier you, you talked about representation and I think that that is really like a…
you know, when younger kids see racially diverse TV shows, which now, you know, thankfully
is all over TV shows and Netflix and Hulu and all these things, you know, it’s really
gonna make a difference in the long run.
And because now kids are just seeing diverse people on TV everywhere they look in ads and
And so I know that we follow each other, we’re friends on social media, and do you want to
talk any about your current job and what you do?
And if any of this pertains to, you know, if you can take any of that to work with you.
I mean, I really do believe that there’s a lot of power in media, and that’s something
that I really appreciated and appreciate about it.
You know, I remember watching this movie called “Always Be My Maybe”, and it was the film
where the heartthrobs were Asian men, not your typical Caucasian male.
And that says something, you know, because people watching that are like, Wow.
Look at that sexy man.
And it’s not, you know, the stereotypical thing that you’ve seen for years in the media,
it’s something different.
And it’s just a reflection that.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and all ethnicities and it’s beautiful.
So it’s really exciting to see that level of progression happening because it does leave
an impact and it does leave an impression and it can change the way that people see
the world and themselves in it.
I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about what I do, but I will say that one of the
big things that we are doing, you know, where I work is that we really care about diversity,
not just within but in terms of representation in front of and behind the camera, because
we know that, you know, having diverse stories, having diverse storytellers, having diverse
directors and DPs will change the way that we see film and television and will change
the way that people see the world.
People are ready for shows and movies that reflect the world as it is, and reflect the
world for all of the beauty and diversity and storytelling that it has to offer.
And that is something that we’re dedicated to doing.
And that is something that I strongly care about.
You know, those many, many years ago, you know, when I had those experiences at the
bar, I was always trying to think, you know, at what level is this unconscious bias…
where is it incepted into the mind?
And if we can change the way things are portrayed in the media, especially with, you know, gay
representation, but also in what is considered beautiful, you know, we can really change
the way that human beings are treated.
You know, when black hair is just as admirable as, you know, straight white hair, you know,
or when black bodies are just as admired as white bodies or when something that is not
white is not fetishized or considered exotic, but yet equally beautiful to the same standard
with no contingency related to it, is when we really get to a point where the lives and
the way that we treat people in this world will change.
But It all starts with really looking at yourself, you know, putting that mirror to yourself
and accepting those hard, ugly truths about ourselves that we don’t want to accept.
And only then can be really progress forward.
Well, Moses, thank you so much.
You said so many important things today, just as you did almost six years ago.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us.
And if anyone has any comments or questions for Moses, leave them in the comments and
Moses, maybe you can check back some times and respond if they have any direct questions
And if you want to watch Moses’s story, it’s obviously – and we just watched it earlier,
but it’s also on our YouTube channel as well as hundreds more on our website and Facebook
So I check that next week for our next story update.
Thanks for watching.
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Photo credit: Screenshot from video
The post Nelson Moses Lassiter on Race, Dating & the Problem With ‘Preferences’ [Video] appeared first on The Good Men Project.
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