¡hola papi!

‘I Like Dating Latino Men. Am I Fetishizing Them?’

Illustration: Pedro Nekoi

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack.

¡Hola, Papi!

I’m in a very happy long-term relationship with the whitest of mayo white boys, but we’re open and occasionally “play together.” It’s become impossible to ignore that, in both cases, I definitely have a type: husky Latino guys. I’m never explicitly looking for them — and I have and do gladly hook up with guys of all ethnic backgrounds — but Latino boys are definitely where I end up more often than not. If a cute thiccc boy named Carlos comes within five feet of me on the dance floor, I’ll probably be all over him.

At what point should I be concerned that I’m fetishizing Latino guys, and if I am, what can I do about it? I’m not asking them to speak Spanish to me or anything, I don’t call them “Papi” (except for the one guy who told me to …), I don’t expect matador role play, but it’s impossible to ignore that I’ve made a pass at every Luis in Hell’s Kitchen. What do you think?

Chorizo Lover

Hey there, CL! Or should I say “hola,” since that’s what gets you going? Were you hard when you wrote this because you got to call someone “Papi”? You sick freak.

I’m kidding. We like to joke down here in México, where I am from and live. Jajaja. But anyway, yes, in regards to your problem: I don’t care.

I don’t mean that in a callous way. It’s not because I think your feelings are invalid or there’s nothing useful to be gleaned from meditating on your desires. It’s just that as long as you’re treating people with respect and it’s consensual, then you probably have bigger fish to fry. (We call it pescado here, in México.)

Want to learn something today, CL? I’m working on a ghostwriting project (I am the ghost) that involves the history of the word Latino. Let me tell you, it’s ridiculous. To make it comically brief: Ancient Rome used to be the heart of a place called Latium, and the people from there were called Latins; the Latins conquered a whole bunch of places and, in the process, spread their language. That’s how we got the “Romance” languages, which include Romanian, French, and Spanish.

So then, CL … then! Spain colonized a significant portion of the Americas, Portugal did the same to Brazil, and, well, they made a mess of everything. Through pestilence, plunder, and punishment, we arrived at the modern composition of “Latin America,” so dubbed in the mid-1800s because — and I shit you not — France needed a flimsy pretext to align itself with the region while installing a monarch there and decided that the “Latin” thing would suit. “Je suis Latin!” they probably said, Frenchly.

That doesn’t tell anywhere near the whole story (the word Hispanic, the U.S. Census, and a Chilean poet also got involved; the general history is muddled, to say the least), but I’m telling you this because I don’t even know what a Latino is anymore or what I’m supposed to do with the word since it’s ultimately a linguistic construct that’s trying to incorporate too many experiences.

All I know is that when you say “I like Latinos,” I’m almost certain you mean a light-skinned brownish boy who rolls his rrrrrrr’s and has some vague connection to Catholicism and, I don’t know … VapoRub? That’s what it means to a lot of people today. And, sure, we exist.

But you’re probably more into an imagined Latino aesthetic than into “Latinos.” You’re not horny for a region or a complex geopolitical identity that includes every single type of “Latino,” but for a narrow view of, as you put it, “a thiccc (three C’s? In esta economía?) boy named Carlos.”

And yeah. That’s kind of a fetish. Most people have those and just don’t talk about them because they’re embarrassing or, worse, offensive. They just call it “having a type” and have the decency to leave it there. Making a pass at “every Luis in Hell’s Kitchen” is a weird thing to say out loud, but if you and Luis are into it, what do you want me to do about it? Be mad? I bet you’d like that. For the spiciness.

Yes, a lot of harmful stereotypes can come into play and inform our predilections, and it’s important to look into those. You may want to ask yourself, for example: Am I into Latin guys because I think they’re macho? Is it because I think they’re aggressive or exotic? Is my vision of a “Latino” exclusive of Afro-Latinos? You know, things like that. Interrogating these questions sounds productive, so knock yourself out, I guess.

Meanwhile, have your little hookups, treat people with respect, and try not to talk about it like you’re special for being white and shopping in the Fiesta Mart. And anyway, have you considered that these boys are the ones hunting you? Hmm? Maybe you’re the one being fetishized here, Columbus!

I’m keeding again. Jeje. Good luck out there. Book a trip to Beautiful Latium™.

Con Mucho Amor,

Originally published on March 9, 2020.

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s ¡Hola Papi! newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack. Purchase Brammer’s book, ¡Hola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessonshere.

‘I Like Dating Latino Men. Am I Fetishizing Them?’