I just finished, “On the Down Low” by J.L. King the book is about black men who have sex with men. The twist is they consider themselves heterosexual, thus, “On the DL”. The book is an interesting mix of biographical,anecdotal and loosely-research based writing. King tells his story of being in the DL world, being seduced – although willingly- by an older man living on the DL (both were churchgoers; the older man a deacon), and loosing his wife and family because of his deceit, and adulterousness. King also tells similar stories of friends and acquaintances who have lost their families, are currently living on the DL or have admitted that they enjoy having sex with men (though they AREN’T homosexual).
The book is easy read and although it is at times uncomfortable read it is also intriguing. The crux of the book is not so much to prove the validity or justify the DL lifestyle – although it is subsequently done- , but rather it is to create awareness for women who may be in relationships with men on the DL or who have caught HIV from a man and do not understand why. King does not want women to become sucked into the same game his wife was sucked into – he genuinely feels remorseful. Nor does he want women to be with a man who is using her to live a DL lifestyle just because she “needs a man.” King argues that part of the reason for the increase in HIV in the African-American community is because these DL men are contracting HIV and then giving it to their wives and girlfriends.
I don’t agree that homosexuality is biblical and I don’t think that it is as simple as being “born this way” – although I believe that claim has some merit. However, reading this book brought up several questions in my mind:
Is it really legitimate for these men to say that they are heterosexual men who sleep with men, rather than homosexual/gay?
If not, how do we classify them?
Why do these men deny the label homosexual/gay?
What role does the church have in reaching these men?
How does the African-American community create awareness without paranoia?
If you have any opinion on these questions, or have any other thoughts