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Life is only what you wonder.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Lowdown On The Down Low

“The code of the DL brotha is that we have to be hard, because of the stigma that comes with being gay,” Jay says, adding that he subtracts five to seven years from his age and gives a different name when he’s “doing his thang.”
“In today’s society, it’s cool for certain people—white people, women of all races—to be gay,” he says. “But for us, we’d just be regarded as faggies.”
The above is a quote from the truly excellent feature article in the latest BCP, A Low Down Shame by Christina Royster-Hemby.
For those that don't know, the Down Low (or DL for short) refers to black men who have sex with other men and who keep it a secret from their wives and girlfriends.
Amazingly, most of these men identify themselves as "straight".
“For certain people in society, it’s cool right now to be gay,” Jay says.
“But it’s not cool for black men. Black men have to be tough to be respected.”
The reason why black men feel they have to be so "tough" and "hard" to gain respect in the black community isn't fully explained. How can these men consider themseves "straight" when they are actively seeking sex with other men?

Aside from bringing AIDS and other STDs home to their (unsuspecting) wives or girlfriends -- which is wrong anyway you choose to look at it -- the biggest problem I have with the DL, and of being closeted in general, is that it makes gays and lesbians invisible.
Straight society sees us, but they don't know what they are looking at. They see the mask we wear, and that's all, because we are hiding our true selves.

It has long been my opinion that if all the gays, lesbians and bisexuals everywhere were to come out and be noticed, the "straight" world would see just how many of us there are out there.
They would see gay people, not as "those people over there" but as their doctors, their lawyers, their schoolteachers and soldiers.
Their fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers.
And sistas, and brothas.

We are everywhere.