Controversial author JL King returned to the Oprah Winfrey show yesterday six years after he and the talk show queen blew the lid off the down low. In 2004 King admitted that he'd cheated on his wife with men but didn't identify as a gay or bisexual.
"If I was a gay man I may want to be in a relationship with another man and play house. But when you're on the DL all you want to do is have sex. It's about gratification not orientation," King told Oprah in 2004.
What a difference six years can make in a person's life. "I have accepted the fact that I'm a black gay proud man," King now tells Oprah. He explains the fear of losing his family and being ostracized by society and the church kept the padlock on his closet door and credits the black gay community for giving him a "crash course on being gay".
"Where I grew up and in the churches I attended I would hear every Sunday that God doesn't love you and you're less than a man. If you're gay you're a pedophile. I didn't want to have that kind of label on my life."
King was preceded by a lengthy segment involving Bridgett, a successful black project manager who was infected with HIV by her husband who was living on the down low. As the narrative goes on Winfrey's show Bridgette was the ultimate victim-black, successful, articulate, heterosexual, and deceived by a predator whom she loved; a closeted gay man living a double life.
It's infuriating six years later that society and Winfrey are willing to discuss the down low but no one is addressing why the down low exists. This was a golden opportunity that she missed by not including openly black gay men in the dialogue or discussing what causes men like JL King and Bridgette's husband who infected her with HIV to participate in such dangerous behavior.
Anthony Antoine, Preventions Program Director for AIDS Research Consortium(ARCA) in Atlanta and close friend of JL King offers up some food for thought on what he described as a "trite and uninspiring show by a woman who handles every other topic with such class."
"Where's everyone's accountability for homophobia! "Down-Low" men exist because we still foster a climate even today for homophobia to thrive. If we rid the world of homophobia, the "down-low" phenomenon would fade away. It's really that simple. Men hide in the closet for many reasons...few to do with the thrill they get from the secrecy and shame and lying and drama."
"If YOU PARTICIPATE IN HOMOPHOBIA, you too are responsible for the horrible story presented on Oprah. You can't say "OMG! I feel so bad for her" and then call me faggot in your next breath. There's your answer why (not all) but most down-low men hide! You can't say "OMG! That's horrible what he did to her", then VOTE against equal rights for gay people. If we rid the world of homophobia, the "down-low" phenomenon would fade away. That spirit was missing from both Oprah shows on men on the down low."
Watch the video of JL King's segment on Oprah below. Also included is King's ex-wife and Ulandsey Peterson, a gay man who lived on the down low who shared his story in 2004 but remained anonymous until now.
Oprah Revisits JL King and the Down Low
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Many thanks to Jeff Hobbs and Anthony Antoine