Hop Off the Down-Low Bandwagon, Please

In a blog entry at Essence magazine, Janelle Harris writes that she has never bought into the whole down-low hype. She says blaming down-low men for the community’s skyrocketing HIV/AIDS infection rate allows blacks to turn a blind eye to the real problem: promiscuity and unsafe sex.

… Weigh the number of times a man pretending to be straight has, wittingly or not, infected his unsuspecting wife or girlfriend with HIV against the number of times a straight man has been out in the world slanging his man parts without a condom on and spreading the disease all around, received by a woman who didn’t have the good sense to insist he strap up (or strap up herself). Or the gal who, still making in-the-heat of the moment sexual decisions based on a crazy belief that she can tell just by looking at a guy or getting all lovey dovey and forgetting to love herself enough to protect her body. They’re the far more likely culprits.

The down low phenomena has skewed folks’ perception of what’s feeding this HIV/ AIDS beast. It’s allowed people to skirt responsibility for what is glaringly true: ain’t no way, no how the small population of men who are living an undercover homosexual lifestyle could be responsible for the out-of-control rate of HIV infection in our community. Nope. There are still folks running around here — on college campuses, at the new club downtown, even now, bless the Lord, in retirement communities, where the HIV rate has skyrocketed — who are thinking with their crotches, not their common sense. We can lull ourselves into a false sense of comfort that down low brothers are the root of our HIV epidemic or even list them as a real problem in our relationships. But it’s an old myth in a tired storyline.


Read Janelle Harris' entire blog entry at Essence.