Sunday, August 22, 2010
Michael Baisden... Do you really understand the down-low?
This particular caller called in and told the story of how she came home early on Valentine's Day, and when she pulled up in the driveway she saw her husband's best friend's car there, which she didn't think anything of.... well I'm sure I don't need to explain how the story ends...but to make a long story short, she discovered her husband in the kitchen having sex with his best friend who apparently was wearing one of her wigs (don't ask me why). You can actually catch the podcast at this link provided (http://www.michaelbaisden.com/features/podcenter/madd-issues-monday go down to 8.9.10 Hour 2 "Caught in the act") It never fails that the show always takes a down turn to discuss the down low phenomenon.
As an African-American man, I can attest to the fact that growing up as a Black male pre-millennium you are told that “fags” are bad people, stay away from them, and NEVER be like them. Much of this mindset comes from religious beliefs in the African-American community, as most people within the community observe either Christianity or Islam, two religions that totally condemn homosexuality. So, on the religious front, you are raised to believe that homosexuals go to Hell, then, on the personal front, you are taught that a gay man is less of a man. Though the former is an effective scare tactic that gives theological grounding to the anti-gay message within the community, it is the latter that drives the point home for the remainder of your childhood, for whenever you did something that was considered feminine (i.e. crying when your feelings got hurt, playing with the girls instead of the guys, playing with dolls) your manhood was challenged by the spouting of derogatory terms towards you, like “punk” or “faggot”. What made it worse is that, often times, these demeaning names came from peers or relatives, which will strike a nerve every time. As humans, we accept the reality that we are presented with, so if a person is brought up to think that homosexuality is a bad or evil thing, is there any wonder why certain men would want to conceal their true sexuality?
As time goes on, these men will begin to battle with the homosexual urges within them. For some, the battle is very short, as they tire of fighting what feels right to them and embrace their homosexuality (or bisexuality). For others, it is really heart wrenching internal warfare that they are forced to deal with. There are a lot of questions that go through a person’s mind when he is battling the possibility of being gay. Will I really go to Hell? Will my family stop loving me? Will my parents kick me out? Will my social life end if people start to find out? Can people tell that I like guys just by looking at me? Am I masculine enough? Will I catch AIDS? Am I a bad person? Do I have mental problems? Is there anyone who understands what I am going through? Will I be seen as just another flaming faggot? Sadly, sometimes it seems like a hopeless situation, causing suicide in some cases. Even worse, it is the negative reaction from family members who may have caught wind of the homosexual desires that fuels the suicide. Either way…it’s tragic.
Still, there is a population of men within the African-American community who decide that they can no longer deny their attraction to the same sex; however, they are unwilling to so sacrifice their heterosexual lifestyle, their public-image, nor their family relationships to satiate their sexual urges. So they continue to remain in the closet and keep their homosexual activities on the downlow. In their mind, these DL men are doing nothing wrong, for they know that their urges are far too strong for them to deny, but they will not jeopardize the image that they have fought so long and hard to maintain…that of a “real man”. They feel that since they are only having sex with these men, but still being a good boyfriend or husband to their woman, then they are good to go. As with this writer, who was extremely DL as a teenager in the mid-1990’s, it is usually in a person’s teen years that the decision to be DL is made. This makes perfect sense because it is during your teens where you start to figure who you are as person, but it is also during this time that that outside world’s perception of you means the most, making the decision to become DL a more viable one to an African-American male, for, as much as we would like to deny it and sweep it under the rug, African-Americans as a whole are far much harder on homosexuals than any other cultural group. It may sound like a sweeping generalization, but it is what it is.
Aside from the fact that African-Americans consider homosexuality a severe vice within their community (case in point, I actually witnessed a friend’s grandmother tell his friend that she would rather he be addicted to Crack instead of being gay), it is also the rest of the world’s shunning of homosexual men that still creates the need for these men to continue to be DL. Yes, great strides have been made in the arena of gay acceptance in The United States in the last 10-15 years however, homosexuals still cannot legally be married in all 50 states, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy still exists, HIV is still directly linked to homosexuals in the public eye, and gay bashing is still as rampant as it ever was. These and a plethora of other factors do not help to promote the idea that it is okay to be gay in the USA, actually, it says the exact opposite. Also, since “The Downlow” has been brought into the mainstream, women have become much more aware of its existence to the point where many women now look for any and all signs of gayness in their men. This is a really bad trend for two reasons: 1) it causes paranoia among women….paranoia = fear….fear transforms into hate….hate from women toward gay men will deal a serious blow to the acceptance of homosexuality in America, 2) with women now probing potential mates for signs of homosexuality, it will only cause these DL men to cover their tracks even better, making it all just a vicious cycle.