What Is The Down-Low?
The “down-low,” “DL,” “Tha Low,” “Tha Low Low,” all refer to men who secretly have sex with other men while in sexual relationships with women. She may be his wife, girlfriend, or just a friend with benefits, but the down-low specifies that she is not “in the know” about his homosexual activities. These men do not consider themselves gay or bisexual because they do not wish to be associated with gay, effeminate men. In fact, they actually shun all labels. Some of them consider their secretive homosexual lifestyle to be just another extracurricular activity. Although the term “down-low” originated in the African-American community to indicate something on the “hush-hush,” it is now used to describe men of all races who have sex with other men undercover. We have found that this behavior is not new, nor is it specific to black men who have sex with men. White men who engage in this same dangerous behavior are said to be “in the closet.” From our research, we have discovered there is really no difference between Black men being on the down-low and any other men being in the closet—they are all closeted homosexuals. These men come in all ages, races, shapes, sizes, professions, and even religions. Most are hard to detect at first glance. Some of these men have been practicing this lifestyle for many years and therefore have become very skillful at hiding their true identities. They believe that what they do privately is their own business and what we don’t know won’t hurt us.
On the contrary, this lifestyle is very much our business. We, as women who love, trust, and share our lives with men, deserve to know if they are engaging in risky, dangerous, and potentially murderous sexual activities. We have the right to be able to make informed choices for our own lives. Although there has been no definitive research published linking men on the down-low as a cause of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in African-American women, it does not take a rocket scientist to link the two. Our purpose is not to engage in debate about whether or not the down-low is a contributory factor in the rise of HIV/AIDS rates in Black women. Our intent is to make women aware of the dangerous, promiscuous sexual practices that actually take place in this lifestyle.