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9 comments | Friday, August 01, 2008

Dear J.L.,

I know you’re probably busy making the necessary preparations to promote your new book, but it’s been a while since we last spoke, six months to be exact, so I’m writing you now because I feel the need to bring a few things to your attention.

I realize some of what I have to say may fall on deaf ears, but as your brother and someone who has had the opportunity to get to know you in the absence of cameras and relentless media attention I would be remiss not to.

Four years after your infamous Oprah Winfrey Show appearance where you single-handedly gave birth to the down low phenomenon, our community is still reeling from the aftershocks and are left to pick up the pieces.

Relationships between heterosexual black couples that were already in trouble have been completely broken in some cases due to the paranoia surrounding the “true” sexual orientation of black men. And I don’t have to tell you that many in the black gay community, a community that you now claim to care about and support continues to bare the brunt of the inaccurate and predatory descriptions that have made you a household name.

You often say that this is your story and no one else’s. And while I would never discourage someone from telling their truth, when its packaged in salacious wrapping with a black male face and potentially life-threatening consequences we all become targets.

Your fifteen minutes of fame that you’ve somehow been able to extend has only benefited you. Brothers who are participating in down low behavior have been driven further into the closet and there are even those who have embraced the title in an effort to reclaim their manhood that was never lost.

Black women have been tricked into believing that there are distinct signs to look out for instead of initiating dialogue with their partners and they’re turning to you for advice.

Your answer: A DVD that describes the top 10 signs of down low behavior…and more at a special introductory price of $15.00. Come on J.L., you can do better. Your brothers and sisters deserve better.

You say you’ve changed, but you’re frustrated the black community won’t allow you to change and they will always view you as “Mr. Down Low”.

Then do yourself and us a favor and distance yourself completely from anything dealing with the down low, close that chapter in your life for good and move on.

Write novels that affirm who we are as black gay men. Educate the black community about the effects of homophobia; continue your work in HIV/AIDS, and be an example to a community of men that is lacking visible role models.

You now have a platform to inject the truth about our lives into national discourse or you can continue to cater to the fears of the public.

I know you’re more than capable of doing the right thing, but will you?



<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Great post, Darian! I agree completely. I've also had chances to meet and interact with JL, and he's always been a pleasant person. But his naked pimping of black sexuality in general, and black gay men in particular, gets more shameful with every new project.

August 01, 2008 9:54 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Great post darian. But will JL King read it? And if he reads it, will he take heed?

Personal story: I went to a restaurant a while back. As I was waiting for my order two employees of the restaurant, a black guy and a black woman, starting whispering to each other and glancing at me at the same time.

After they finished whispering, the woman looked at me and said very softly, but loud enough for me to hear, the words "down-low". I am a "clockable" black gay man, and they let me know they knew my "secret".

JL King unleashed a tidal wave of hostility/rage/hatred upon the heads of black gay men (those who are clockable and/or openly gay are the most vulnerable) because many in the black community associate HIV/AIDS infections in black women with black gay/bisexual men.

In my case, I have never had sex with a woman in my entire life but it doesn't matter. Because of JL King, and his misinformation, we black gay men are all supposedly "responsible" for the HIV/AIDS infections in black women.

Another thing is that many black people (like the aforementioned restaurant workers) don't even know the correct definition of down-low. Obviously, a clockable gay man, like me, is not on the DL. A man on the DL is a closeted bisexual but most straight black people don't get it. They label all things black and gay as down-low.

August 01, 2008 11:31 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Well said Darian, I can only echo what others have already said. I really take umbrage with Mr. King's divisive message. This will just further drive a wedge between The SGL and the straight communities. Many SLG many are not clockable but neither are we on the DL. We are just ourselves, the same at work, at play, at the gym and at church. We are just ourselves. This will only lead more to believe because I am not what often time is portrayed of black gay men in the broadcast media I am somehow misogynistic and hell bent on giving one of my sisters HIV. I have never had sex with a woman and don't want to do so. Can't I just be myself and live my life as honestly as I do without someone thinking that they have found out my great dark secret, when in fact if your get to know me you will find out or can find out by just asking. I can only hope and pray that Mr. King will read your letter and take head. We really don't need any more of this misleading garbage. Help us LORD!!!!!!!!!!!

August 01, 2008 12:00 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Thanks Darian...I couldn't have said it better..


August 01, 2008 3:32 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Darian! Thank you soo much for speaking on this. I have been on a rant and rave since this whole DL fiasco verbally. Now that I am blogging I will mos def be speaking on this more often. I personally feel that Mr. King has ruined the credibility of the Black LGBT community and that any hopes that we had before his debut was now menial. Between his tirades and Terry McMillan's shortly after it put so much blame on the closeted Black gay man. People seemed to forget that homosexuality was never easy to discuss in the open...has always been taboo and that this so called "down low" mess has no color on it. I can understand why heterosexual women are angry but damn! All of these statistics where Black women are the highest numbers in HIV infections sent blame straight to gay Black men. I am sure that not every Black man dipping out on their wife is sleeping with men. But the blame game is coming out of frustration, embarrassment, anger and disgust and ignorance brought on by such mediums as Mr. King's books. Something needs to be done FAST! DVD Instruction Manuals? I mean come on! I think Mr. King is just looking for more ways to keep his bank account in tact now that he told the straight community all of his secrets, they obviously don't need him anymore and its hurting his pockets. Its a damn shame and it needs to end now!

EVERYONE PLEASE READ KEITH BOYKIN'S "BEYOND THE DOWN LOW"...Its insightful and well written and Mr. Boykin is educated and not biased on the matters at hand. He even dedicates time to Mr. King and how all of this foolishness came about.

Mr. Sir Real

August 02, 2008 4:47 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Great Commentary!
I have to tell you how much I love your blog first and foremost. What JL is doing is beyond ridiculous and I'm saying that as a straight woman. Its amazing to me what people will do for a buck. This DL scare tactic is doing so much more harm than good. If my man is cheating, Does it really make a difference who is being reckless with? Should I feel better that he is being reckless with a woman than a man? Hell no I don't! Unprotected sex, reckless behavior is the same thing to me, be it straight,gay,bi,DL and anything in between.
HIV is becoming more and more of an epidemic in the black community because of ignorance,irresponsibility and reckless behavior. We will never make a dent in this epidemic, if we keep fueling ignorance.

August 02, 2008 5:30 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

And this, Mr. Darian is why i love you.
keep spreading the lite.


August 03, 2008 12:13 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

King says, and it's probably true, that the number one question straight black women want him to answer is "what are the signs of a DL man".

The straight black women who flock to King think that black gay/bisexual men are sexual predators out to infect them with the HIV/AIDS virus and they want to know what the "signs" are so they can avoid becoming a statistic. King is giving his straight black female fan base what they want. They want to know the "signs".

There is a misunderstanding between straight black people and black gay men. The way to begin the healing process is for black gay men to "come out" to family and friends and talk about who we really are. It will be stressful and, in some cases, dangerous but it must be done if we are to have a respected place in the black community and/or the world at large.

King can only have the last word on this if black gay men allow him to.

August 04, 2008 8:01 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Great letter. Check out the play "THE TRUTH" if you really want to know about the struggles of dl dudes. It's the realest thing I've seen on the subject and more people need to see that perspective so they can stop judging.

August 14, 2008 1:49 AM


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