Rejecting a gay culture they perceive as white and feminine, many black men have settled on a new identity, with its own vocabulary and customs and its own name: Down Low. There have always been men -- black and white -- who have had secret sexual lives with men. But the creation of an organized, underground subculture largely made up of black men who otherwise live straight lives is a phenomenon of the last decade. Most date or marry women and engage sexually with men they meet only in anonymous settings. This practice alarmed public health officials. Of the black women living with HIV/AIDS the primary category was high risk heterosexual contact. Most DL men identify themselves not as gay or bisexual but first and foremost as black. The DL label is a separation from white gay culture. DL will let you in if you look ''black enough,'' which is code for looking masculine, tough and “straight”.
DL culture has grown, in recent years, out of the shadows and developed its own contemporary institutions, for those who know where to look: Web sites, Internet chat rooms, private parties and special nights at clubs. To them, it is the safest identity available -- they don't risk losing their ties to family, friends and their black culture.
Why do you think that it is so important for the DL brother to stay connected to his black culture, while believing that this same culture would see his lifestyle as deviant? Some believe that this new culture is just a way to continue to fill a need for sex. Would you view this behavior as the African American male expressing hyper sexuality? How do you view these black men in relation to their roles with their spouses, children, jobs and community? What else sociologically crossed your mind or captured your attention?