What causes the Down Low?

This post is to simplify what causes the Down Low…

Who is to blame for the DL lifestyle?  We all are!  Men, women, church, society etc.  Now before I really get started, let me say in no way or reason am I condoning this type of behavior.  Lying and deceiving is wrong to yourself and others.  I am a believer when you intentionally go out and cause ill will to others, the universe will need to balance itself out and your misdeeds will come back to you.  Let’s also state the obvious; that the DL lifestyle can and does lead to diseases being spread to partners of the men practicing this lifestyle.  This is partly the reason new HIV cases are the highest amongst women of color.

But let me stop for a second and let’s take a trip down memory lane.  Infidelity in marriages or unions has existed since civilizations began.  In different periods in our existence, it has been accepted or not accepted.  But let me not get that deep in that subject in this post.  Do you remember when “DL” didn’t mean “DL”?  Remember when DL meant keeping something on the down low; keeping something a secret or hidden.  Now fast forward years later, after R.Kelly’s song “Down Low” and now down low specifically means homosexual or bisexual men cheating or their wives or girlfriends with other men.  This happens in all races and societies but for the sake of this post, let’s focus on the causes of the Down Low lifestyle in the African American community.

As young boys growing up, we hear and see homosexuality and bisexuality attacked and condemned.  In the African American community these attacks are everywhere. From the church on Sunday; exiling and banishing homosexual souls to hell to burn in the eternal lake of fire…to hearing dinner table and backyard cook out talk about how nasty and disgusting homosexuality is.Young black boys hear their mothers and aunts talking about these white women and faggots trying to steal their black men from them.  They hear about the weak men in prisons who have been raped or had their “manhood” took. Young boys being told if they cry they are punks or sissies and need to be tough.  They witness how homosexuals are treated and discussed in movies and vilified in music; seeing homosexuals beaten and killed in the U.S. and across the globe (especially in the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East).  All of these things condition our young boys of color to come to the realization that homosexuality and bisexuality is wrong and is to be distained.  But what does this barrage of negativity do to our young masculine boys who may be homosexual or bisexual.

Children are extremely impressionable.  Some tend to watch what they say around children, but don’t filter their comments when it comes to their dislike for homosexuality.  So by the time these masculine young boys approach puberty (for some a lot earlier) they begin to recognize they are different.  They know that their “difference” is not accepted in their community and society.  They hear the talk in the neighborhood, on the basketball court, in the locker rooms and know that their “difference” needs to be hidden and not exposed or face bullying and backlash that can be crippling for our young boys self esteem, psyche and awareness.  So they have a common sense and logical reaction; they don’t want to stand out, they want to be normal, they don’t want to go to hell, they don’t want to disappoint their families, they want to fit in and not be labled a punk or sissy.  And for the next 10-15 years these thoughts become reality, this reality becomes actions, these actions can manifest into a down low lifestyle because of the denial and self hate of being homosexual or bisexual.

Where is your girlfriend?  You are so handsome, why are you single?  You like woman don’t you?  When are you gonna get married?  You don’t have ANY kids?  Are just a few questions these boys, now young men have to face and evade.  These men having a steady diet of the aforementioned conditioning now have to make some tough decisions…be happy, true and love themselves or possibly have the family and friends they love, disown them and cast them out and drag their names through the mud and make their private sexuality a public spectacle for all to glare at in disgust.  Having to be labeled a faggot, sissy, punk, faggot ass nigga.  Then the ultimate…being labeled with the dreaded word “gay”.  Being associated with the salacious, over sexed, half naked, ultra feminine and flamboyant gay men you see on the floats at the gay pride parades.  Having their manhood questioned and being accused of wanting to really be a woman or being less then a man.

Please understand that these things are deathblows to a masculine homosexual man’s pride, self esteem and psyche.  Which is why many commit suicide or turn to self destructive behavior like drugs or alcohol so as to not have to face these very complicated and complex life decisions.

OR they do the opposite…they follow the route that they think is easier, they conform; get a girlfriend or get married and begin to live a false life so as to not face the reality; that they are indeed homosexual / bisexual men.  So their Down Low lifestyle begins…a life of sneaking, hiding, lying and deceptions.