Why Won't Urban Media Let the 'Down Low' Stigma Go?
Writing at the Huffington Post, Deron Dalton says that down-low men do exist in urban communities, but we should remember that they're not the only type of men who have sex with other men.
Steel River is a new Web series featured in Atlanta-based online broadcasting network Signal23TV's lineup. It's not slated to launch until Saturday, Feb. 23, but if the (NSFW) trailer is any indication, the down-low brother, or the "straight-acting" black man leading a gay double life, is at the center of this urban drama. That particular representation of the gay black man is one we've seen time and time again. Don't get me wrong: I can't wait to see this series, and the down-low formula certainly lends itself to dramatic storylines that have the potential to elucidate this real-life phenomenon, but it's still an all-too-common representation of gay black men in gay-themed cinema and TV. It's as though "down low" were synonymous with "gay and black." Not only is being on the down low problematic, but portraying all gay black men as down-low brothers stigmatizes the gay black community.
We LGBT black people do exist, and we can "act" any kind of way and still be open about our sexuality. Therefore I encourage gay black brothers to just come out! Yes, it's easier said than done; indeed, it's extremely hard. In many black, Latino/Hispanic or urban communities, being gay is frowned upon. On top of that, you are already a minority, and you might have grown up in a religious community. But if you embrace who you are, things will get better at some point. There's a difference between struggling with coming out (most gay people have those struggles) and living a lie while acting on your true desires and sexuality. Coming out as a gay black man is important because we need visibility. Not only do down-low men need to come out, but people, especially black people, need to accept that black men can be gay, too. Then maybe there won't be as many down-low brothers leading double lives ...
Read Deron Dalton's entire piece at the Huffington Post.
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