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On the Down Low:  New or Same Old/Same Old

The term “down low” has been getting a lot of attention the past few years. It even made it on to Oprah. But it simply described an activity that has been going on for years–perhaps as long as humans have existed.

What interests me about the phenomenon of all this publicity is that so many people are surprised. Don’t people have any sense of history?

Straight, Gay, Bisexual or BiCurious

Greek husbands during classical times often took on male lovers. Indeed, Olympic champions were able to sexually and athletically mentor their choice of the younger athletes.

Any gay man can tell you that many of the men who go to gay bars are married men who are travelling on business. Much of the cruising activity that occurs in public places is done by married men or men who have girlfriends. Some of these men consider themselves bicurious. Others might say they are simply “on the down low.”

I think one of the things that makes the term such a headline grabber is that it seemed to originate among African-Americans, including some who are publicly hostile to gay sex. Life for African-American openly gay men can be particularly difficult. It not surprising that some who enjoy male on male sex would keep it a secret.

I’m sure many of us who are now openly gay were once “on the down low.”

The Spread of “On the Down Low”

The terms is becoming part of the American lexicon and being applied to situations that have nothing to do with sex–homosexual or otherwise. I have heard the phrase employed to describe various activities that are done in secrecy. Just today, as I update this page, one of our local television stations promoted and investigative news series they’re doing about landlords who rent unsafe houses to college students. What do they call the series? Leasing On the Down Low.

I’d be very interested to hear the views of those who live apparently straight lives but also engage in sex with other men. Why? What? Where? When? Who? Write something for us please and submit it to our forum!



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