Origins[ edit ] The term originated in the Black community, and was originally used to describe "any kind of slick, secretive behavior, including infidelity in heterosexual relationships". There have always been men — black and white — who have had secret sexual lives with men. But the creation of an organized, underground subculture largely made up of black men who otherwise live straight lives is a phenomenon of the last decade.
Most date or marry women and engage sexually with men they meet only in anonymous settings like bathhouses and parks or through the Internet. Many of these men are young and from the inner city, where they live in a hypermasculine thug culture. Other DL men form romantic relationships with men and may even be peripheral participants in mainstream gay culture, all unknown to their colleagues and families.
Most DL men identify themselves not as gay or bisexual but first and foremost as black. To them, as to many blacks, that equates to being inherently masculine. Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America , Keith Boykin states that secret homosexual relations are not unique to African American men, and in fact occur in many societies and among all races.
Throughout the gay porn industry and internet networks, "down-low" quickly became a marketing term used to publicize pornographic movies, models, sex-clubs and social gatherings that included black and Latino men.
The first known person to use "down-low" in a homosexual context was George Hanna, who used the term in the song Boy in the Boat about lesbian women. By the end of the year, numerous major media outlets had reported on the down-low. The article was the first mainstream piece to openly criticize negative mainstream media depictions of down-low men and put a different spin on the DL phenomenon.
The 'down-low' — Coming out your own way in black clubs"  in the newspaper's July 23, issue. Living on the 'Down Low' ; the show featured J. King discussing his book On the Down Low: In Jeffrey Q. In addition, McCune has dedicated a dissertation on this topic. His study examines DL discourses closely, while also exploring how DL men handle masculinity and sexuality.
On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry—from Music to Hollywood , where he discusses his own experience being down-low in the industry as well as others in the industry who are also down-low. He distinguishes the difference between being down-low and being down-low-gay. As someone who is down-low is on the receiving end of homosexual sexual pleasure and for that reason does not view them selves as gay.
While down-low-gay is someone who is a closet gay man. He argued that the "Down Low" black bisexual is often described negatively as a duplicitous heterosexual man whose behaviors threaten the black community. Alternatively, the "Brokeback" white bisexual when seen as bisexual at all is often described in pitying language as a victimized homosexual man who is forced into the closet by the heterosexist society around him.
And more than one in four of these bisexual men have unsafe sex with both kinds of partners. Although this study did not find that nondisclosing MSM were at higher risk for HIV infection than MSM who are more open about their sexuality 1—3 , the data suggests that a substantial proportion of nondisclosers are infected with HIV and other STDs and are at high risk for transmitting these infections to their male and female sex partners.
Confirming previous research, the study of 5, MSM, aged 15—29 years, in six U. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has never cited men on the down-low as a factor.
The authors of a study of the down-low on Craigslist. The authors maintain that by only focusing on black people's sexual behaviors, larger structural issues such as poverty and drug use are ignored in the discussion about rising HIV rates in certain black communities. A cross-study analysis that reviewed 24 articles and published in the Journal of the National Medical Association found that "black MSM are more likely than MSM of other racial or ethnic groups to be bisexually active or identified; and, compared with white MSM, are less likely to disclose their bisexual or homosexual activities to others.
However, the contribution of high-risk heterosexual black men to the rising HIV caseload among black women has been largely ignored.
Future research must evaluate the relative contributions of bisexual men and exclusively heterosexual black men to HIV cases among black women. It was concluded that bisexual activity is highly correlated with secrecy and unprotected sex. The risks of bisexuality among black men are exacerbated by incarceration, homophobia, drug use, and the prison and public health focus on surveillance rather than prevention.