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HIV Life >> African Americans

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On the Down Low...Myth or Reality?
      #241530 - 08/20/08 07:29 AM

Hello Everyone, I don't know, but I hope their might be some other women out there in my situation so that we can talk, share, vent, and even scream if we want to about this subject of the "Down Low" men in the African American community.

First, I will start by giving a brief summary of my, "Down Low" story. I have been married for 12+ years. Recently, my husband told me about his HIV+ status. I have as of date tested negative, but am still in a "window" period, and will need to be tested again before the year is out. We had been separated several times during our marriage for what I thought were typical, "marital problems" and I even confronted him about being, "homosexual" based on certain behaviors that started coming out, but he always denied it and I believed it. Now I know different. But anyway, during one of our separations he started sleeping with a guy he met and this continued for 6 years. And he admitted to 1 other sexual relationship about 2 years after we were married, which was a 1 time thing.

My husband had tested negative almost yearly up until 2006 just as part of routine physicals, so his infection had to have happened between 2006 and 2007. Which is scary to think that he would have unprotected sex with another male and then have sex with me like it was nothing knowing all the risks, STD's, HIV, etc. But I guess in his mind he was not out living it up, partying in gay clubs and sleeping with multiple people, so it couldn't happen to him. But we all know it only takes 1 time! And to make matters worse, this guy has been in and out of jail every since my husband knew him and he was also married with a child. His wife is also HIV positive, I just recently found out, however she was OK with this double life her spouse was having...I just don't get people these days. If that is your thing, then at least make sure you are protecting yourself and those you claim you love.

So it disgusts me to think of all the men in jail this guy probably slept with, or tatoos he got with the same needle that was used on another inmate, who when they got out of jail went home to their wives, etc. and the cycle goes on.

So I don't know, I have read books, some people say their is not such thing as "Down Low" if you have sex with other men you are "Gay", some say, you are "Bisexual" but then other say there is no such I am looking for some other women or even "Men" out there who may be in this lifestyle to share their stories, give some feedback, help me and others understand what is going on here? African American women between 25-35 (don't quote me) but somewhere in that age range are the highest population dying with Aids, I was looking at some chart on this website. And they say the majority are getting infected more from sex with their male partners who are engaging in sex with men, I mean they are being infected via drug use, and other ways, but this is the primary method....

so what can we do, the education is out there, but obviously people aren't listening or they think it wont happen to them, or wives like me who think, "oh it couldn't be my husband, he doesn't act Gay" Well WE ALL NEED TO WAKE UP!!

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Reged: 12/12/07
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Loc: Minnesota
Re: On the Down Low...Myth or Reality? new
      #245031 - 03/20/09 08:04 PM

Well as you're seeing "On the Down Low" is not a myth. Obviously your husband is sexual with you a woman and is sexual with men.

Humans can have sexual attractions that range in varying degrees for both sexes. The issue is how strong are those attractions and one's willingness to act on those attractions given the social confines you're operating in.

In essence most people are attracted to both genders by nature, just that the majority has far stronger attractions for the opposite gender than for their own AND our society places severe social consequences/challenges on those who choose to act on same-gender attractions.

The BIGGER issue is we as a society don't openly talk about issues of sex and sexuality. Unless the sex takes place in the confines of a heterosexual monogamous marriage, people don't wanna talk about it or hear about it, or get up on high horses and spout off condemnations and judgments about those not following the "straight and narrow" - no allowance for differences or variances.

Basically SHAMING folks for feeling ANYTHING but what society EXPECTS you to act and behave. And yet the glaring reality is that plenty of people will still act out on those feelings regardless of what their social group currently thinks about their feelings/behaviors - but they act on it covertly, fraught with guilt. And often done very impulsively, no fore thought, no real planning, just simply acting in the intense passion and desperation of the moment... then wallowing in a haze of shame after the act.

What passes for sex education in most communities (particularly the "abstinence only") is horribly inadequate and the reality is that people will not "get the message" unless it is FREQUENTLY discussed over a period of time among people they take seriously. Some yahoo on TV or on a pamphlet isn't enough. And if what is discussed is solely couched in the confines of a heterosexual marriage - then what of those who aren't totally heterosexual in their sexual orientation or aren't married?

People have to be open enough to discuss frankly and without judgment a wide array of sexual topics and that seems to be incredibly difficult to find -- as far as my experiences as an African-American male. You're forced to either play the "role" or you're considered a "punk", "sissy", "fag" whatever NEGATIVE and judgmental label that so frequently gets applied.

Doesn't exactly encourage folks to take care of themselves or take the necessary precautions to protect themselves when that's the message they get bombarded with simply for being different in their sexual outlook.

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