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?