Writer’s Name: Charlotte Marshall Templeman
Title: Men on the D.L. Keeping it a Secret At Whose Expense?
“Before the night was over Dre had connected with a lot of people in the business. He was so surprised to see so many brothers he knew. They didn’t seem ashamed or embarrassed at all. It was unreal to Dre just how many men were unfaithful to their women with men. For many years, Dre loved sex with women but one day he found he loved sex with men just as much when his roommate in college approached him one night. But of course he couldn’t let anyone know that. People would think he was gay. Dre looked around the club before leaving thinking to himself that almost 95% of the brothers in that place were either married or in committed relationships. This would be taboo to the outside world and that’s why clubs like this are all over.”
The above excerpt is taken from the book Broken Hearted by Charlotte Marshall Templeman. Broken Hearted tells the story of Dre and Diamond who were madly in love with each other. They were the power couple in their circle and everyone wanted to be like them. Women wanted Dre and men craved Diamond and Dre too. Diamond had been looking for Mr. Right for a long time and was confident she found him in her new man. Unfortunately her long awaited fairytale turned into a nightmare when she learned the man of her dreams was on the down low or D.L. as it is commonly called.
So what is this D.L.? Being on the down low is when a man secretly has sex with other men while in a relationship with a woman. Since he does not consider himself gay he feels there is no need to tell his mate about his sexual activities. But what does this mean for the unsuspecting woman who is having sex with her man? It could mean a matter of life or death.
There are many factors that play into the reason why there are men on the D.L. in the African American community. We can say that some were turned out in jail if they were incarcerated, or some have been battling their sexuality for years and were afraid to reveal it for risk of isolation. Whatever the case, African American women have been more exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, mainly HIV. These women who think they have been in monogamous relationships have been deceived and put at risk without knowing it. So you may ask, whose fault is it? The blame lies on the person withholding the truth. There has always been an issue in the African American community about gay men. To reveal you are gay is like signing away your manhood to receive insult and ridicule from family and friends. Because of this many men choose to hide it.
In past years people thought they could look at a man and tell he was gay. Maybe he walked a little more feminine than usual, or he spoke with too much of a soft voice, or he exhibited female traits, (whatever you think they might be). However, today there are many men on the D.L. who you would never expect. It could be a famous hardcore rapper, a handsome family man actor, a strong, iron clad athlete or your everyday hard working man. Since women do not know for sure if the man they are involved with isn’t on the D.L. it’s like playing Russian roulette with their life. But I ask, should they have too?
It is the responsibility of the man if he is having sexual relations with other men to not get involved in a relationship with a woman. If he finds himself torn between the two, that is an issue for him alone to solve. Putting an innocent woman at risk who he professes to love can have damaging consequences. One being, the woman can contract a disease or he could lose her and his family. Is being dishonest worth losing everything? The movie Cover explored the world of D.L. men and the consequences of not being honest with your mate and most importantly with yourself. The main character found that not being true to himself risked the health and wellbeing of his wife and child. Ultimately he lost everything, more importantly his self-respect.
There are no easy answers to how we can deal with this issue and help women who are being exposed to life threatening changes. It is easy to say that a man on the D.L. should just be truthful with his sexuality and “come out of the closet.” That can be hard when you have family expecting for you to produce children, or who constantly criticize gay men and their lifestyle. After all, men are looked upon as the strong backbone and head of the household. Some may argue that a gay man cannot be those things. So the D.L. man has to continue to conform to what people think he should be and not who he wants to be. If that is the case, once again, he needs to refrain from involving himself with a woman who he did not give the chance to make the decision if she wanted to be in that type of relationship. The decision was made for her under false pretense because she was not given the complete picture of who he is. She has the right to be with a man who is honest, confident and committed to her. If the man she chose to be with cannot give her those things then he needs to walk away and find out who he is before he changes her life and his forever.