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.”

Whoa dere.

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.

10 COMMENTS

  • Reply January 24, 2012

    Diego

    I hate to see guys who live lives like this. I think you should choose what you like. I think it cuts down on confusion. If I am confused I know they are too.

    • Reply January 25, 2012

      Anonymous

      Some people (like myself) aren’t intentionally DL. I’m a naturally masculine guy. I don’t go out of way to be manly. I like women, want a wedding, house, dog and kids. I also happen to like men and have been with one for a few years.
      I’m not trying to confuse one. I’m just being me. I’m not hiding anything. Much like my birthday I don’t tell anyone my sexual preferences until asked! Much like the guy mentioned above.

  • Reply January 25, 2012

    Antonio Maurice Daniels

    I have been highly critical of men on the down-low because their falsehoods have hurt and will hurt so many women. Some men on the down-low are simply in relationships with women to ward off attacks about them possibly being gay, so they use relationships with women as distractions from their truths they want to hide. Very good and interesting article!

  • Reply January 26, 2012

    Musique

    I feel that if we as a society became more open and excepting to gay men and women, we wouldn’t have to worry about someone keeping secrets and telling lies. I am one who lives my everyday life out loud and proud, but I did have that phase in my life that I was completely petrified of what people may think about me. It took a while and a few close friends to get me to open up and except me for who I am. I am not a fan of the down-low scene and don’t encourage it at all. If you are a gay male or female or even consider yourself bisexual, I encourage you to share with your partners, allow them the opportunity to decide whether they want to be a part of your lifestyle or not.

    • Reply January 27, 2012

      Imani Rashid

      I am still amazed at how much in-denial so many Black Mamas are. They desperately want their sons to be “straight’. They put all of their energy and resources into raising their boys. Oftentimes, they are single Moms or married to the father, who is passive and absent, emotionally. So these young men become the center of their lives. The young men are in-debted to their mothers and somehow this dynamic is developed between the mother and son that manifests in the son not wanting “to disappoint mom”. This dysfunctional Black Family Lifestyle impacts negatively on so many. Lastly, The various religious denominations in the Black Community fail to support “same gender loving people and gender variants”.

      • Reply January 28, 2012

        Anonymous

        I’ve never thought of it this way but it is a fair assessment. Maybe it is being scared and not wanting to disappoint mama. Alot of DL guys didn’t always like men. To change what people have known about you isn’t exactly watch especially when you are dealing with the changes yourself

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    jonathan cheban parents

    This piece you shared above is of great value. Thank you for your great work. Please keep us informed like this.

  • Reply June 29, 2012

    Divine33

    Thanks for sharing this article, a different perspective. However, it is time grownups become grownups and stop blaming the black community, parents and the church for their deceptions. There are and continue to be many choices that were shameful in our black culture and we still made choices to do it out in the open. Self-acceptance is the first step, we cannot ask others to do or define for us what we are unwilling to first do for ourselves. Get clear first and have integrity with oneself, than honesty with others will be less challenging.
    There are many viable support systems in place and connections to be made, more than ever via the internet, mass media, lgbt groups, churches, support groups and hot lines.

    It is time to stand up for ourselves and stop the blame game; it is played. It can be difficult and with it we must sometimes make difficult choices and be our own motivator, promoter and advocate.
    Thanks for the article. Great Job

  • Reply June 11, 2013

    Dorothy

    I think this has been going on way back in the Bible with Sodom and Gomorrah. I think what you do is between you and God. My thing is you cant fine a “Man” and that’s bad because Women want Men they can trusted, an now you don’t no who’s who’s anymore. I DONT want to die because of a down low person he want his cake and eat it to. I say if this is what you want than do it. But don’t drag me in a death trap because you want to lay with men and women. Wear are the men that just love women I think that’s the thing of the past!!!!!!! And I don’t want a women either because you don’t no if she is messing with a downlow person. I SEE a lot of women getting TOYS because most people are gay. I cant trust people with my life because they don’t care if you live or die for a piece of TAIL l!!!!!!!!! There are a lot of good women with no men, I have been single for 14year God has kept me but He made us to be LOVED BY A MAN NOT A WOMEN!!!!!!!!!
    We needed love to.

  • Reply November 26, 2013

    donville

    girl get over it^^^

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