Are You Scared of Men/Women on the DL?

in-the-closetWhile reading comments on a post from The Imperfect Enjoyment blog (check out the link a little later on), I ran across some commentary that really struck a cord with me. I began responding to that little teeny tiny point in the commentary when I realized that what I was about to say was SO far off on some pretty much entirely unrelated tangent that if I were going to even somewhat address the actual post I would have to scratch my initial comment. But, after highlighting my text, I couldn’t quite force my finger to tap that ‘delete’ key. Instead, I copied my text before deleting it and pasted it in to notepad, just so I could remember the exact position I was coming from at a later time. Since it has been stewing in my brain for long enough, I felt it would be criminal if I didn’t address the issue while it is still fresh in my mind (as are the emotions). As I’m sure you can tell from the title, we’re about to delve into the shady world of the DL.

Well, not too deeply. I’m sure we’ve all heard enough about the actual phenomenon that is the DL, and if you haven’t here is some background. Now, in order for you to understand exactly what I am talking about it might be helpful for you to see the post and the comments here. But pretty much Sunshyne says “I’m busy trying to make sure I don’t run up on any DL brothas”, to which one guy, Mike, responds by saying “While I don’t question the sincerity or necessity of her feelings, it’s important to note that many “DL brothas” and sistas (yes, they too exist) are on the downlow because of fear” and that “We have to promote a culture that encourages acceptance… A culture where DL brothas and sisters no longer fear the Sunshynes of the world”.

Ummm…excuse me? Ok, so since you guys can probably already tell that I have a serious issue with what Mike said, even if only this one aspect of what he has said, let me share my initial response with you guys:

“I am with Sunshyne when it comes to the DL issue, because that is probably one of my biggest concerns when it comes to dating (well, overall cheating), But, I have lots of gay and bisexual friends, so the issue isn’t about hate on a man who wants to love other brothers. Quite frankly, being a psych major, I don’t think sexual orientation is a choice one can make, much as you can’t choose your skin colour your height. I would even date a bisexual man if he was upfront about it. What I find scary about those on the DL is that because they aren’t accepting of themselves or their sexuality, that they are more likely to engage in sexually risky behaviour, like unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, etc, and therefore are more likely to contract an STI or HIV. I wouldn’t mess with an undercover brother simply for that reason, much as I wouldn’t sleep with someone who was permiscuous or was a cheater: My health comes first”.

I still 100% agree with the statements that I made I just wanted add a couple of things: First, I do agree that those on the DL are there because they do fear society and how society will treat them if they “come out of the closet”. And I also agree that while there are some supportive groups and people and that we as a society have come leaps and bounds when it comes to acceptance, tolerance, and defense of the LGBT community that we do still have a long way to go, and that there is still quite a stigma attached to the label LGBT. And of course, hate crimes do happen, discrimination does happen. I do not take any of those things away from one of those on the DL, I really don’t. And if you want to STAY IN YOUR CLOSET for the rest of your life, then nobody can stop you. It takes a lot of balls to live your life counter culturally. I get that.

But if you’re going to get married, have children, etc. etc. with the opposite sex because you’re afraid of going against the “norm” and you want to be in the closet then STAY IN THE CLOSET…stop sneaking out from time to time to get down and dirty with a bunch of people. If you were STRAIGHT we’d call you a low down dirty whore but because you’re gay or a lesbian but struggling with fear we’re supposed to be like “awww, it’s OK, you can endanger my life being a whore, coming back and kissing me and making love to me after sticking it in to 5 other people tonight without protection but since i trust you and we have been MARRIED for 10 years so of course we don’t use protection, but it’s OK I don’t MIND dying from AIDS/HIV because you’re GAY and I totally understand why you’ve decided that your fear of being open about your sexuality means that I should get a death sentence”.

Clearly, NO. Now, in my opinion I don’t even think this whole DL issue would have blown up the way it did if it weren’t for the large amounts of married women who were contracting HIV and STI’s from their husbands who later “came out”. I think the problem is that since those on the DL are in denial to a certain extent you can’t implore them really to use protection or to practice safe sex because while their choices to engage in sexual acts with others are deliberate, to a certain extent they aren’t either.

OK, so that’s my two cents on why DL brothas scare me, and why they are a HUGE concern to me. All of this is my response to a man saying that people shouldn’t fear the “Sunshyne’s of the world” which I thought was unreasonable and fair. Hey, after all, the Sunshyne’s of the world aren’t hating on the gay/lesbian community, they are fearing being caught on the wrong side of a love affair with the self-haters. Which I think is completely reasonable. Hey, that being said none of this comes from personal experience, mostly media accounts and some psychological review. And like I said, I would totally date and even sleep with someone who was something other than straight if they were in touch with their sexuality and weren’t ashamed of it, and therefore were practicing safe sex. Just like I wouldn’t engage in sexual acts with someone who was straight but too immature to keep it in their pants, or to know how to wrap it up, I fear one whose “straight side” can be sexually safe no problem, but their “repressed gay side” has no sense of sexual responsibility. Does this make sense to anyone else? Has anyone ever dated someone on the DL, or known someone who is? Anyone out there on the DL or was who wants to share their experience? (don’t worry you can comment 100% anonymously). Do you guys agree with Mike or with Sunshyne? Please share if you guys have any input as this is a huge topic and I don’t even slightly pretend to know it all or even halfway.

Sorry if I offended anyone. Just my two cents.

Sorry, for some reason this post did not go out yesterday as scheduled. I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

Cheers

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7 Comments

  1. Am I dead terrified of being caught up with a man who is on the DL? Most definitely!

    Have I ever been in the situation before? Sadly yes. That is why I am so terrified: I happen to know how deceptious these people can be. A man who is in the closet you can probably pick up signs from: A man on the DL has lived there lives so fully as a hetero male that there are no signs. What did my ex do? He went out for boys’ nights, once went to Vegas with a few of his close friends (which is not something out of the ordinary). How did I find out?

    Well, my ex gave me a (curable) STI, and, devastated, I called out a group girls night (my BFF’s were my ex man’s BFF’s girlfriends coincidentally). All of us had the same problem: the EXACT same STI. After throwing down on eachother we realized it wasn’t one of us…it was THEM. We called them all over to my house and called them on it. They didn’t crumble at first, except for my man. The rest pretended he was crazy. Finally got the story they had been f*&%ing each other, but that they “weren’t gay”, pretty much every boys night since they were teens.

    I told him he needs to go seek help and got out before I ended up with something that wouldn’t go away with a week worth of antibiotics.

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  2. As a black gay man I understand what it is to be ridiculed, abused, shunned because of your sexuality. I also know that in the community many can be very lax when it comes to condom use and monogamy, especially before they become secure within themselves and stop beating themselves up. It is wrong for someone in this phase of their lives to put at risk the life of someone who is an innocent. I feel saddened that people go through this kind of trauma, from both sides, because you cannot imagine the torture the man on the down low is going through on a daily basis. I dabbled in the permiscuous life like most, but grew up and out of that. But I never put someone at risk who wasn’t living the same life I was.

    I think maybe what Mike was saying is that if women, especially within the black community weren’t so judgemental and condemning about gay black men and there wasn’t such pressure that maybe these men would feel more comfortable trying to open up. And if they didn’t feel so wrongly treated and judged maybe they wouldn’t act so irresponsibly to do what they feel within them but do it like a drug to try and drown the guilt

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  3. I’m a straight dude and I agree with you all. Now way should people be on the “DL”. I mean if I have a friend who is on the DL that means he can willingly detach himself mentally from those moments and be a different person around me. Meaning he could just as easley steal something from me or sleep with my girl and not bat an eye at me.

    DL dudes do have signs though like one thing i notice is women are present in their life but not really. They usually prefer to go out alone or with men, affirming that they are not gay.

    That’s my 2 cents Ruby…enjoy your holidays!!!

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  4. Ruby et al,

    It’s Mike. First, I clearly prefaced my comments by saying I didn’t question the validity or necessity of Sunsyhne’s comments.

    Secondly, I encourage anyone really interested in an intellectually stimulating book on the DL situation to read Keith Boykin’s “Beyond the Downlow.”

    Third, there’s a misperception that downlow brothers and SISTERS are whores. Ruby notes “stop sneaking out from time to time to get down and dirty with a bunch of people.” While cheating is cheating if you’re a DL brother or sister in a relationship, let’s not assume these folks are having multiple flings outside of their relationships. I think that statement is simply a manifestation of people thinking all folks who have sex with someone of the same sex have no self-control regarding their sexual practices. The same holds true that all downlow people aren’t in relationships but maybe folks who actively or inactively present themselves as hetero or simply are questionable.

    It’s also true that some folks simply suppress their homosexual feelings or have only experimented once as a teen, and identify as hetero. They may be in loving, honest relationships with persons of the opposite sex, and be committed in those relationships.

    Lastly and most importantly, I recognize that the downlow brothers and sisters have contributed to STI rates. It’s equally important to note, however, that everyone who is sexually active and has a STI is responsible for these rates. The gay man in a “committed” gay relationship; the woman who has been with the same hetero man who happened to fuck the female neighbor with HIV; the woman who opens her legs to her man who stays in and out of prison; and the woman who frequents escorts on the side are all responsible, and should be held accountable. Let’s not make the mistake of pinpointing one group of persons as the culprits while ignoring the fact that all types of persons are positive and pass the disease. So while the Sunshyne’s of the world may avoid the DL brothers of the world, it doesn’t mean she’s avoiding the possible Tiger Wood’s of the world.

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  5. @ Mike

    I thank you for your response to my post, and for taking the time to read it.

    I would like to say that I have actually differentiated between gay people who are in the closet and people who are on the DL. I do not believe that one’s sexual orientation makes someone more or less permiscuous, however as I said, “What I find scary about those on the DL is that because they aren’t accepting of themselves or their sexuality, that they are more likely to engage in sexually risky behaviour, like unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, etc, and therefore are more likely to contract an STI or HIV”.

    But I also say that “I wouldn’t sleep with someone who was permiscuous or was a cheater: My health comes first”. Overall it comes down to people who are immature, self-hating, in denial, or feel otherwise dejected or rejected are a lot more likely to engage in a many different risky behaviours, drugs, alcohol, sexually….often times the ways in which someone is going to act out has much to do with the struggle in their heart. People who are struggling and in denial with sexual issues tend to lash out sexually.

    People in the closet are more likely not to engage in sexual behaviour at all, people on the DL are more likely to engage in very risky sexual behaviour: this has nothing to do with sexual orientation or prejudice against any particular orientation, it’s just the fact of the matter. Just as women who don’t have daddy issues average considerably less sexual partners over their lifetimes than women with daddy issues. Not saying that every woman who is a whore has daddy issues, or that every woman who has daddy issues will become a whore. Just looking at the facts and stating them plain.

    Now, I would like to point out that men who hide in the closet who are being “in the closet” are staying there until they’re ready to come out to their loved ones. Those on the DL are “hetero” in so far as they enjoy having sex with their wives, love their male role in the family etc. They also enjoy engaging in sexual acts with men. All while entirely in denial. But these men are so far removed from their homosexuality/bisexuality that they no longer can rationally have a moral conscience about it because they often times don’t associate with the acts they are committing, and therefore things like “condoms” and “sexual safety” are not concerns because until the man on the DL gets to the point where he can at least come to terms that he in fact lives in the closet to me he is just as dangerous as an IV drug user who shares needles just to get their high.

    And while everyone can be held accountable for damn near everything, sometimes it’s equally useful to focus on one aspect at a time. Nobody once said that the LGBT/DL community was solely or even majority responsible either for STD’s or HIV/AIDS, nor was it even implied that if you can avoid a DL brother that you can avoid STI’s/HIV. I consistently compare the fear of a man on the DL to the fear of dating a hetero man who happens to be a whore…so I am making the comparison to make the point that I think they are equally responsible for STI/HIV transmission and therefore directly comparable.

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  6. @ Lina Lee
    Wow, thanks for sharing that story (and sorry it took me so long to get back). That must have been a very shocking, awful experience, and I’m sure you think at least twice now before getting involved with a new man. It must be very difficult to deal with new boyfriends who have male friends or who are close to their buddies. How do you deal with their yearly fishing trips/Vegas/boys’ nights out now?

    @ Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing that with us, as it must be difficult to admit that at one point before you grew up you were permiscuous. And I appreciate your opinion. What do you think of Mike’s response? If you wonder by this post again, even if it’s months later, please let me know. I think you are the only person who currently is homosexual and therefore can offer that POV to us.

    @ Banquo

    Thank you for your comment, and for the holiday wishes! They have been awesome so far, and I hope that you can say the same!

    Interesting perspective, I can’t help but wonder if you are speaking from personal experience or not as far as with the type of man who can be on the DL is also the kind who can sleep with your girl behind your back. That is definitely an interesting perspective though: the intentional deception of those around you that care about you means you cannot trust anything they do because you cannot look them in the eye and tell what they are thinking…..

    @ Lina Lee…how do you feel about Banquo’s morality issue he brings up?

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