My Night With A Downlow Brother
The night started out like any other. My girls and I met up for a late happy hour. As it got closer to 11:00, the spot started to fill up. A few women came in here and there, but dudes quickly out numbered us by more than a few.
When I walked by some of these dudes, I noticed some things. They weren’t discrete about looking at me or my friends. Yet, they sat close to each other. Many of the men embraced each other, exchanged cheek kisses, and leaned in close, with hands on knees as they talked. The men were well-dressed and groomed; they accessorized noticeably, but not too much, and were generally well put together. Based on “all” this, I assumed these men were gay.
I stood near the bar and overheard a conversation that should have let me know the night was about to go left. Two gay men and a woman talked about having a threesome, all while the men were pretty physical with each other…hands under his shirt and on the smalls of his backs. I tried to make sense of what was happening. Do these people know each other? Are they seriously talking about a threesome out in the open like this?
By the time I snapped out my confused thoughts, the spot was filled with at least 70 black men. Somehow, me and my friends ended up as unintended guests at a gay man’s birthday party.
I’d never been to a party with so many attractive men before. Usually, when you go to a club or lounge, you will see a few fine dudes here or there, but the majority of the dudes in the spot were fine. They came in all shapes and shades. Arms and shoulders were cut up and greased up. Hairlines were edged up. Not one dude was wearing a white T.
Blame my ignorance or lack of exposure, but I was in awe. Considering how the black community tends to view homosexuality, it was pretty eye-opening to see so many gay black men together and seemingly comfortable with each other. I learned a lot by just being there, but I also had a conversation that changed my perspective.
I like manly men, so my attention was on the more “masculine” dudes I saw. In a way, I felt like I was getting an inside look into the life of men on the down-low. Looking at these men, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them had girlfriends or wives and how many were open about their sexuality (or not hiding it, per se).
At some point, I exchanged glances with this tall chocolate man. Considering our surroundings, I didn’t expect that kind of interaction. My inhibitions were lowered and my curiosity was at an all time high, so I walked up to him. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to ask him what I wanted to know, but I figured starting a conversation wouldn’t hurt.
Thankfully, he broke the ice and asked me how my friends and I ended up at this gay man’s birthday party. I let him know were weren’t invited, but decided to stay because the music was good and we were having a good time. I asked him if he was gay and he said, “I prefer men, yes. But I love women and hope to have a wife and kids and all of that.”
I know sexuality exists on a continuum, but like I told him, I’m not willing to date a man who “prefers men but wants a wife or girlfriend.” Apparently, his ex-girlfriend felt similarly, so they had to part ways.
After talking to him, I felt a little more aware, yet a little more paranoid. Am I wrong for that?
We talked about the type of men we liked, and how the black community has made it difficult for gay men and women to be comfortable and open about their sexuality. This is not to say people should or want to put their business on Front Street. After seeing all those men together, I wondered how often they feel comfortable being who they are without being judged or like they need to be closeted in their daily lives. In our community “masculinity” and homosexuality seem to be at odds. If a man is both, we don’t really want him to talk about it. But then we get mad or hurt when we find out that he also loves a man. Somehow, he has deceived us, but the community doesn’t want to share the responsibility in creating his desire or need to deceive.
Either way, I had a great time. My friends and I danced, cracked jokes, and had drinks and great conversations. Some were happy that we were there. Others told us that we didn’t belong. In a way, they were right. At times, I felt like I was seeing things I wasn’t supposed to. At the same time, the club was open to the public and we were never asked to leave (and were welcomed by the host of the party) so…*shrug*
I think deception is wrong. If you are with someone and they are under the impression that you have only one sexual preference (and partner), leading them to believe otherwise while you actively involved with others is dead wrong. However, after this experience, I see the struggle a little differently. I can’t say I’m more at ease about it, though. Maybe it’s not my place to be.