Hidden Faces

This morning, I watched On the Downlow, a YouTube docuseries by Abigail Child.

The series highlights stories from men (under age 40) who provide first-hand accounts of how they manage their secret relationships with men in public-facing arenas. As a straight woman, the program was both educational and alarming. Here’s why…

My brother is gay, I have four lesbian aunts (one is married and adopted a child with her spouse), two gay uncles, three gay cousins, and one bisexual cousin. My grandmother was a preacher, my grandfather a deacon. Nearly half of the gays and lesbians in my family stem from under that Pentecostal umbrella. My respect and understanding for the LGBTQ community comes from the members in my family who chose to stand in their truth, despite the backlash from society or the family. With that, they have my unwavering respect.

My reason for writing this post, is not to bash those who were featured in the docuseries. It’s just the opposite. I applaud them for being brave enough to show their face on an international level. It exposes the deceit that dwells in the underbelly of the downlow lifestyle. Also, their stories have the potential to help someone:

  • overcome their fear of coming out; or
  • gain respect for the LGBTQ community.

I know five people that are most likely on the downlow. Looking back, I had oral and sexual intercourse with at least three who showed signs of living a downlow life.

I get it. Religion and laws stigmatize any behavior that does not support procreation as deviant. But, I’m not sure I can classify attraction to another human being as deviance. I understand that stigmas can prevent someone from coming out. Society has not yet made it completely easy for the LGBTQ community to live according to their truth. With every turn, people spew hate, smear names, and stigmatize the LGBTQ lifestyle. It’s not right, and society’s nonacceptance is the reason the downlow exists. Therefore, I cannot be completely upset with those on the downlow. In many ways, I am empathetic toward them. But I can’t help but shake my head in frustration, (remember I’m surrounded by so many strong members of that community).

Though I don’t care about about one’s sexual preference, I do care about the unnecessary distractions it creates in friendships or relationships. There are signs.

I understand privacy and secrecy is a person’s prerogative. But, sexual orientation should be an open forum to every person you sleep with. Sex actually affects more than just YOU. Not only is the circle of life centered around sex, but so many exchanges occur during sex – emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. It’s selfish to not share your real intentions or desires with people who share in that exchange with you.

We have to do better as a whole. Unprotected sex, knowing you engage in risky sexual behavior (with men or women), is deplorable. All downlow folk should join the highrise movement. There are a host of people waiting to stand with you, including me.