As of late I have found myself at odds with people on issues of race. While my goal is to educate others, it is a very personal topic. My race doesn't define me, yet most times it does. Here are a few ways in which race affect various parts of my life.

In love

Race shouldn't play a role in how one tackles finding love and companionship. Yet in my world it does. It can be a detriment, because in the gay world the status quo and desired default is fit white men. It's no one's fault (well, that's a lie). It's a by-product of general abundant racism in our world, trickled down and filtered for our Male consumption.

Some people claim it's "just a preference" -- amongst many other excuses.

The opposite side of that issue is "fetishization." I have been a victim of fetishization and once upon a time I was weak enough to accept it as a gateway to falling for someone. The relationship desolved and now I have those experiences to remind me why that is not okay. Fetishization is negative, dating should not have an affirmative action equivalent. I don't have any horror stories involving fetishization like some of my other POC friends, just a handful of very uncomfortable conversations, and education of people who tried to come at me with that as a reason for why they wanted to get to know me.

I once upon a time fell prey to the excuses of racial preferences, and it hurts my soul to think of back then.

It hurts because I treated others unfairly and because I allowed the external racial prejudices of my society to dictate my personal life, and in turn, hurt others. I have grown from this experience but I own up to it.

Through hate

My Skin tone and facial features are the first thing that people will see, and draw conclusions on.

This causes my actions to be dictated by a desire to defuse any negative connotations people may associate with people who look like me or are my race. This is a hell of a chip to bare one's entire life. "You don't sound Dominican." "Are you Mexican?" "I once went there on vacation." These are a few of the things one might hear when you grow up looking like me.

You hope that you don't happen to come across that police officer in a bad mood when you decide to under dress. I once went out with an ex and his roommate one night. We all were wearing hoodies and sweatpants for a late night liquor and snack run. I remember half way to the bodega I undid my hoodie and tied it around my waist even though it was nippy. It triggered a conversation. I told them about how we were in a dangerous neighborhood, and it might not be safe for me to be dressed that way, though they were.

In the current climate of the US, it is still incredibly dangerous to be a POC. There are people everywhere who want me to go somewhere else or just not exist. The day after Election Day, I received phone calls at work.

The callers told me to go back to where I came from, or to kill myself for being gay. My manager (an Asian-American woman) got harassed several times going to get her lunch. I saw her walk back in with her lunch and in tears 3 or 4 times that month. It was a heartbreaking sight. I decided to be strong and silent to console her. We must come together, be strong, and push forward.