Everyone Is on the ‘Down Low’ These Days

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About Benoit Denizet-Lewis

Benoit Denizet-Lewis is an editor-at-large with The Good Men Project magazine, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, and the author of two books, including America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life.

Comments

  1. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Polyandrous men with non-poly wives are more-or-less on the Downlow.

  2. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    I meant polygynous men…

  3. Great story, Benoit.

    Having lived in the South (Savannah, GA) for 19 months, and having spent a year of that time as a door man at a gay bar, I can tell you the Down Low is alive, well, and thriving. I often watched men come into the bar, make out—and leave—with fellow fellows, then later spot them around town with their wives and children. It seems so integrated into the culture—and a direct response to living in the Bible Belt.

    And there’s a market for it. I’ve known gay men who’ll only have sex with married men for the discretion aspect, because they don’t want their sex lives gossiped about around town. (Does that count as a gay Down Low?)

    • daftpunkydavid says:

      i’m wondering why you never thought these guys were good ole’ bisexual…

      • I don’t necessarily define a man who has sex with a man as gay or bisexual. Sexuality strikes me as far too complex for such a thing. The married men I was speaking about are likely somewhere in between. (Horny, perhaps?) Still, the clandestine nature of such hookups seems, to me, to speak of a certain shame/fear of judgment.

        I’ve been approached by married men, but I believe in the power of those vows (my parents have been pretty happily married for 41 years) and can’t get past the potential damage it could/would wreak on the lives of their wives and children. I wouldn’t want it done to me, so I respectfully (depending upon the aggression of the advance) decline.

  4. It’s amazing to me that you actually believe that White men “are now on the DL…after six years!” Your argument that “White men weren’t on the DL” is erroneously biased by your observation of racial and cultural (urban, hip hop, hyper-masculine) exclusivity, when in truth you could find analogous populations and behaviors in White men in say…public restrooms, truck stops, and parks all over America. The behavior(s) you describe has been documented in White men for countless years. “Tearoom Trade: Impersonal sex in public places” by Laud Humphreys in 1970 thoroughly documents men who engaged in same sex behavior with a “premium on pleasure” and no regard or need for “coming out” as they didn’t identify as gay. So if you controlled for race, SES, and cultural constructs you would see these behaviors are all the same in Black and White men and not new. I would also slightly alter your definition by stating that the DL is a colloquial term/identity in reaction against mainstream gay culture [which happens to be White], but it surprises me that you can’t see that other White men can also not identify and reject mainstream gay culture in the same way DL men do, ie. Senator Craig and Pastor Ted Haggard. They’re not “closeted” because they don’t identify as gay and there is therefore nothing to “come out” to and they both have wives, yet they were caught seeking gay sex for pleasure. So, if the only difference is that they don’t look or have swagger like the men you met in ATL in 2004, then that only points to your own biases.

    • Thank you for your explanation about the author’s bias. Now I don’t have to write it. Such ignorant arrogance by the author, unbelievable.

  5. Some homosexual and bisexual men (sorry, if you’re a man who has enjoyed a sex act with another man you ARE one of the two) have simply fetishized their own oppression. This is not about disassociating yourself from ‘gay culture,’ it is about you not being able to enjoy sex without the thrill of being caught doing something ‘wrong.’ The only thing ‘wrong’ with the DL is it being hidden from someone who believes they are your exclusive sexual partner, and the wrongness of that is not edgy, and certainly not manly, it is simply childish.

  6. Great Piece!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. NORMAL GUY says:

    Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Polyandrous men with non-poly wives are more-or-less on the Downlow.

    Henry Vandenburgh says:

    I meant polygynous men…

    LIFE’S LESSONS ARE SO CLEAR SOMETIMES. WHEN YOU SET OUT TO SHOW HOW CLEVER YOU ARE WITH NO REGARD FOR THE EDUCATION OF OTHERS AND HOW THEY MIGHT FEEL, THEN LIFE HAS A HABIT OF BITING YOU ON THE ASS.

    I WANTED TO MAKE A COMMENT. I LIKE COCK. I LOVE MY WOMAN, I LOVE PUSSY BUT I LIKE LOOKING AT COCK. I CALL IT A FETISH. I DONT WANT TO SUCK IT, OR FUCK IT (OR HAVE IT FUCK ME) BUT I LIKE JERKING OFF WITH A GUY AND WATCHING HIM SPURT. NO CONVERSATION, NO MAKING OUT, NO DINNER OR CHAT. IT’S JUST ABOUT THE COCK.

    SO… AM I NORMAL OR AM I A WOMAN-HATING CLOSET HOMO?

    • Henry Vandenburgh says:

      What are you taling about? And why did you reply to MY message especially? And why the CAPs? I can totally dig where you’re coming from. I don’t happen to like men that way, but so what…?

  8. too true

    just look at dlgaze.com, a new site for gay and discreet men

    full of closet cases

  9. White people are always copying off of black people.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] SGL black men on the down low for the NYT Magazine in 2003, declares the phenomenon over [via] Fail (0) Stupid (0) ';document.write(str);}/*]]>*/ Sep 14, 2010 · Link · [...]

  2. Daily Intel says:

    Benoit Denizet-Lewis: The Down Low No Longer Exists…

    Because EVERYBODY’s on the Down Low. See?…

  3. [...] unui concept: Down Low. Aici. In anii ’90 s-a inventat o noua expresie: down-low, care se referea la negrii din SUA care [...]

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