In all the discourse around colorism, it always comes up that South Asian heterosexual men and South Asian heterosexual women find each other less attractive or worthy of a relationship and marriage the darker their skin. This sometimes leads to the conversation of South Asian heterosexual men having a preference for White women (remember “Rock n Roll Soniye“?). My question is, of course, where do queer people fall into all of this? While my discussion of the exoticism of South Asian queer women focused of White queer women’s treatment of South Asian queer women, my intent here is to highlight dynamics that play within the South Asian community.
The South Asian queer women in my life are not as degrading towards other South Asian women regarding skin tone. However, I feel that my experience may not necessarily be representative given the fact that I move in primarily accepting and feminist-leaning circles. It may be unrealistic for women who have often been raised to be dissatisfied with their own skin color being or becoming dark (in the summer) to embrace and celebrate other dark-skinned South Asian women.
Due to colorism, dark-skinned heterosexual women often feel insecure about themselves when it comes to dating. It undoubtedly affects South Asian heterosexual men, but from what I’ve seen and read it seems to have an especially large impact on the women. I’ve never dated a South Asian woman (yet! …yet!) so I can’t judge from any experience, but one theory is that this tension and insecurity might lessen in queer relationships between South Asian women. In theory, two women who have experienced or witnessed colorism as an attack largely on South Asian women may be less likely to perpetuate it against each other. However, we all know that women hurt other women the way we’ve seen men hurt us. When we get so used to hearing that our kali skin is bad, or our fair skin is good, the brainwashing can impact future relationships with women, platonic and non-platonic.
Often times the misogyny and sexism thrown at us by the racist media and companies ends up arming us to hurt other women even more brutally. This concept is applicable to colorism in women’s queer relationships. Two South Asian women in a relationship may have more pent-up negative energy and internalized racism and colorism than a man who hasn’t usually been a victim to that extent. Hm?
However, I also want to introduce South Asian queer men into this discussion. I don’t tend to write about queer men because my knowledge is lacking but I’m going to try to. Since heterosexual men supposedly have a big part in perpetuating colorism against women, I wonder if and how South Asian men perpetuate it against each other in queer relationships. I assume that the majority of these queer men were raised by or around heterosexual people and men. On one hand, South Asian men are also subject to society’s colorism (evidence: Fair & Handsome ad). On the other hand, they aid society in emotionally holding down dark-skinned women. These two things can arm men negatively in relationships with each other because they not only have resentment but they also have a certain amount of power. I also wonder if, in regards to colorism, South Asian queer men are known to flat-out have a preference for white men the way that South Asian hetrosexual men, and men of color in general, are sometimes known to have that preference for white women.
I wanted to end on a happy note, and whenever I want to celebrate being beautiful, appreciated South Asians I listen to this song […where Priyanka Chopra could pass as a White girl if she were wearing jeans…]. Yeah, deep sigh.