On the DL

You Canít Keep it on the DL Forever/Oprah on the DL


Written by: D. E. Washington


The reason for your hope huh?


Oh yeah, I read about the Bruhs and your boyís unfortunate death. How was the funeral?

It was good as far as funerals go. The best thing about it was being able to see a lot of my college friends that I havenít seen in awhile.

Knowing you like I do, I find it amazing that you were able to hook up so strong to the Stanford community.

What does THAT mean?

I mean..no disrespect..but you know and I know that youíre a REAL níga. I guess when I think of Stanford graduates, I think about the whole Ivy League, caviar and crepes type upper class rich crowd. Youíre pretty smart, but youíre not like THAT.

You'd be surprised, everybody at Stanford isn't as 'uppity' as you think.

Yeah, but I know there are a lot of people who donít know you personally, but they read Servinemup regularly and youíve got them fooled.

(laughing) Fooled??

Yeah..you done switched your game up and started talking that Jesus talk..

Donít get it twisted now, Iím not just talking the talk, Iím walking that walk too.

Whateva..all I know is that youíre still the same níga that used to chase after every big butt and pretty smile you saw, drank 40ís like they were water and smó

Heyy!! Címon now! Donít put all my business out there in the street. Iím still the same person. The wonderful thing about being saved is that you learn to enjoy life the way that God meant for us to enjoy it. I still like fine women, itís just that the only fine woman I chase now is my wife. I still like to enjoy a nice drink, but I normally do it in the comfort of my home and I donít get so bent that Iím acting a dímn fool. And I still enjoy puffing on a good cigar from time to time.

Mm.hmm..them ĎGOODí cigars huh? (smiling)

Say mane..you need to chill. You donít have to announce EVERYTHING to the world, some things are best left on the down low.

Yeah, but youíre the one quoting the Bible these days. Donít they have a part in there about how everything done in darkness eventually comes to the light?

(smiling) Thatís good that you remembered that..and yes, thatís true.

Well, why keep stuff on the down low then? Why not just let it ALL hang out?

Because as parents and as adults, I think we all have a responsibility to train our children in the way that they should go. And I also know that no matter what I SAY to them, they still watch everything I DO. Both my son and my daughter already know by now that when mommy and daddy start shaking up those margaritas? Mommy is going to start laughing and giggling a lot and daddy is going to start rubbing on mommyís butt.

ManeÖyou are off the chain.

I know..and you know Iíve always been like this. But once you give you life over to the service of the Lord, He works with YOU. If I wasnít the kind of person that I am, then others might think that only those Ďholier than thouí people can be Christians. God wants everybody to come as they are and Heíll work on the things that need to be reconstructed. But before that happens, you have to submit to His will.

Come as you are huh? Even with all the stuff on the down low?

Hey..you can fool the world, but you canít fool God. He already knows what youíre doing behind closed doors anyway.

Yeah, I guess. I just donít want to be a hypocrite though.

Well..donít be one then.

But thereís still some things I like to do, that I know God doesnít approve of.

Well, stop doing them.

Giving up those things you like to do on the down low is not an easy thing to do.

YeahÖbut you can do ALL things through Christ Jesus that strengthens you.

Is that from another Bible verse?

Yeah, thatís from Phillipians 4:13. The main thing is to not worry about what people are going to say or think about you. All you have to focus on is Godís will, everything else will take care of itself. Because the same people that are going to call you names or ridicule you are going to have to go before God and give an account of their actions just like everybody else. And when we DO go before the Eternal Judge, Heís not going to want to hear ANYTHING about what somebody else did, the only thing on your docket will be what YOU did.

Kinda like that R. Kelly song when he says, ĎGod go judge me the same day he judge youí, huh?

Already! And you donít have to keep THAT on the down low!!



After attending the funeral of a college classmate and close friend of mine, I have had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of my Stanford family. One of the things I appreciate the most about them, is that as a group, theyíre some of the most intellectual and progressive minded people that I have ever been around. The funny thing about college friends, is that even though a lot of us are married , have children, have great careers with a lot of responsibility, etc., we still know each otherís hearts. A lot of us have polished up our act a bit, but weíre still the same fundamental people as we were back in the day. An interesting topic of discussion that has arisen from this Stanford crew is the subject of brothers that are on the ĎDLí.

My familiarity with the down-low or ĎDLí pretty much stopped with R.Kellyís 1996 release, ĎKeep it on the down low, nobody has to knowí. When you listen to this song, itís about the secret relationship between a man and a woman. But now that the Center for Disease and Control has released the latest figures in regards to the new HIV infection rates, the DL has taken on a whole new meaning. The latest HIV statistics show that the fastest growing infection group is black heterosexual women. The majority of these women are being infected by having non-protected sex with men. The warning bells sound off on the realization that there are a lot of men who have sex with other men, but yet they donít consider themselves gay or bisexual, instead theyíre on the DL.

Realistically, HIV has no sexual or racial preference, all itís looking for is an opportunity. Men CAN contract the disease from women, but the overwhelming infection rates of men still trend toward the homosexual or intravenous drug use lifestyle. So the problem then arises, that women feel like theyíve been mislead or deceived by someone whoís claiming to be something that theyíre not. I have had conversations with relatives and friends that show the disparaging views of defining male sexuality. Personally, I believe that if a man is sexually aroused by another man, he has homosexual tendencies. I also believe that if a man has sexual intercourse with another man then heís homosexual. It doesnít matter if heís the one Ďgiving ití, or itís only one day out a month or whatever, thatís gay to me. But I have had several Ďenlightenedí friends to chastise my caveman southern way of thinking, and encourage me to look at the bigger picture of sexuality. Iíve tried, but I just canít get there...

David, heís not gay, heís married.

So? There are some guys who get married to women, but they still live that gay lifestyle on the cool.

Gay men donít like women, they only like men.

Well Iím sorry, but in my world, youíre either gay or straight, all that bisexual, metrosexual stuff doesnít mean a damn thing to me.

Since I have a multitude of single females in my life that I love dearly, I find myself seriously concerned about this growing epidemic in our community. I know about the Ďdatingí world. My wife and I both Ďdatedí before we were married, so I know how that goes. And as many people that are spouting condoms as the way to curb HIV growth, I think the solution requires much more than a piece of latex. This is 2004, there is no need to front. Everybody in the Ďdatingí world knows how the condom thing works. Itís something you use with a one night stand or somebody you donít really know that well. But invariably, when two people start kicking it on an intimate level for awhile, the condom use starts to fade away. As you get familiar with each other, you get comfortable, and it wonít be long before an episode happens after youíve been drinking or just in one of those Ďfreakyí moods, that the thrill and natural recourse of going Ďbare backí will happen.

The scary thing about HIV is that itís not an obvious virus. As a matter of fact, of the people carrying the virus in America, over 30% donít even know that they have it. A lot of men are belligerent against being tested because of their preconceived notions of HIV being a gay disease..

I ainít no damn punk! I KNOW I ainít go no mf AIDS!!

To the people who have the whole blood-needle problem..

Ooh no! I just canít stand having someone stick a needle in my arm. Iím too scared to get tested!

To the fatalistic people who just donít want to know..

I ainít going to get tested, cuz even if I DO have HIV, I donít even want to know!!

Weíre entering the 3rd decade of HIV being on the scene, and all the strides that were made in halting its spread in the 80ís and 90ís are being backtracked due to apathy, ignorance and fear. Young kids today are indulging in these risky sexual behaviors because they still think itís a gay disease, or some of them look at Magic Johnson and think, Ďit ainít all that bad, Iím go keep having FUN!í.

The acclaimed writer E. Lynn Harris released a book in 1991 called Invisible Life, that expounded on the lifestyle of one of these men on the DL. And most recently, a writer named JL King has a book set to be released this May entitled On the Down Low (foreword by E. Lynn Harris). In it, heís supposed to give women hints and tips on how to tell if their man is on the DL. Although I recognize the growing urgency to educate and inform our people on the chances they take, I also see this problem as much more than just trying to figure out whoís gay or not. The problem actually turns into a trust issue. Because as many men who are out there living a life on the DL with other men, Iím sure thereís many more on the DL with other women. And if we lull ourselves into thinking that HIV is a Ďgayí issue, then we all are subject to fall into the familiar trap of ignorance and denial.

There have been advances in medicine and technology such that HIV tests can be administered orally, by swabbing the inside of your mouth and you get the results back in less than 30 minutes. Condoms are still the leading contraceptive deterrent against contracting the disease, but theyíre not full proof, condoms do break and tear. The real sad part is that you have thousands of women who are going about their business and living their lives faithful to one man, and theyíre still coming up HIV positive. Since I have a single sister, cousins, daughter, niece, friends, etc., I realize the need for ALL of us to be more aware of how it's going down in 2004. At some point (men and women alike) we all have to put our trust in another person, usually our spouse or significant other. And weíre at a place in history that if someone violates that trust, and steps out of the relationship with an affair, then the whole familyís health and well being is put up on the roulette table just like another roll of the dice. There is no shot that can cure HIV. There is no pill to take or cream to use to make it go away. Hopefully everybody will keep these things in mind, when they go out and do whatever it is they do on the DL. Because no matter if youíre going to those places where they have little boys dancing on tables, or youíre picking up boppers on MLK and going to the motel for a couple of hours, all things done in darkness, will eventually come to the light.

For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. Ė I Corinthians 4: 4,5

Oprah is doing a 'Down Low' show to be aired this Friday and here are more links for HIV statistics and down low behaviour.




Oprah on the DL

Say DÖdonít sell it out now, stay PLAYER with it mane!

Sell out? What are you talking about?

I read that on the DL shít you wrote. After I read it I was hoping that my gal didnít read it.

Why do you say that?

Cuz, now all of these women are going to be looking harder at their man trying to see if heís on the DL or not!

So? I thought that would be a good thing.

Yeah, but itís a lot of brothers out there thatís on the DL with women and now theyíre going to have to have their shít examined through a microscope. Youíre making it tighter on the players out there mane.

Well..if you ainít all the way REAL with your gal, then you REALLY ainít player..wouldnít you agree?

Look mane, I ainít trying to hear that shít right there right now. As a matter of fact, I remember back in the day when YOU wouldnít be trying to hear that kinda shít either! You used to have different women that you kicked it with! Now youíre selling out the game mane.

Hey, look here podna, Iím all the way player to the BONE níga. I know how it goes with men having more than woman that they kick it with, but the key is, if youíre going to kick it like that, you should make sure ALL your gals know how youíre doing it. Let them make that choice, donĎt keep it on the cool from them.

Aww níga, you know most women ainít go say, ĎOk, you can have other girlfriendsí.

Well Iím sorry Iím messing up your ígameí, but the REAL to all of this is that I have a daughter, a niece, a sister, cousins, friends, aunties, all kinda women in my life that I love that are single, and I want them to be as best equipped as they can to be able to spot a níga lying, cuz that HIV ainít no punk, that shít is REAL. Now if thatís selling out the game, then so be it. All I know is that REAL players keep their game tight and they donít have to worry about remembering lies, all they have to do is live free. Thatís player right there.

Player huh? Well, just donít be surprised if the hood revokes your player card.

Whateva níga..just donít hate the player cuz Iím pimpin this Real Game.


I got home early this Friday afternoon because I wanted to watch Oprah's show with J.L. King. I really couldnít tell you the last time I had seen Oprah Winfreyís show, but since she was doing a topic that I had ALREADY done on servinemup.com, I figured it would be good for me to check out how a professional like Oprah handles such a sensitive issue. The DL issue and more importantly the HIV/AIDS issue is a very hot, yet sensitive topic in the hood. Most people DONíT want to talk about it. They donít want to get tested, they donít want to know..period. But as much as we can highlight brothers in denial about their homosexuality, the bigger issue are those people in denial about whatís REAL. It still takes 2 people to transmit the HIV virus. Being able to sit down and have an open and honest conversation with your partner about your sexual past, preference and current health status is a REAL thing to talk about. If you canít talk about these things with a partner then thatís the first sign that thatís not someone you should be sleeping with. Now itís one thing to talk, but as the DL trend has highlighted, there are a lot of people who lie. And just going by what someone SAYS is not a verifiable source when it comes to medical issues:

Yeah, baby, I just went to the doctor for a checkup last month. Iím healthy as a horse!

Oh yeah? Whereís that paperwork? I need to SEE it! No, as a matter of fact, letís go get tested together RIGHT NOW!! All it takes is a cotton swab in the mouth and 30 minutes nĎga!

Of course, thereís still the issue of people falling into unsafe sex practices once they DO receive paperwork stating their partner is completely healthy. Case in point is the porn industry. They test porn stars for HIV every 3 weeks. There is a certain male porn star who has tested positive for HIV this past week, and now theyíre testing all of his Ď1st generationí partners that he has been in contact with. From that list of partners, one woman has thus far tested positive for HIV, now they have to test all the Ď2nd generationí partners that SHE has been in sexual contact with. Thatís the scariest thing about HIV, it travels consistently, all itís looking for is an opportunity. Thereís a lot of people, men and women alike, that have a long list of ex-sexual partners. When you consider how many partners that those partners had, then that Ďloopí starts growing exponentially. The whole thing about being HIV aware, is first and foremost being conscious of this loop and doing whatever it takes to stay out of it.

I respect brother J.L. King for having the balls to step out there and talk about a topic that most men living that lifestyle are scared to ever talk about, let alone go on Oprah and talk about it. But for a man to have sex with other men, but still consider themselves heterosexual? Thatís just a man in denial as far as Iím concerned. When questioned about the parameters of defining male sexuality, the comedian and philosopher Andrew Dice Clay had the following definition for the discrepancy between gay and straight.

ďEither you suck d--- or you do not suck d---Ē

Personally, I find the Dicemanís definition a bit too broad. That definition leaves a loophole for men who have other men perform oral sex on them as well as men who give and/or receive anal intercourse with other men. Thereís a lot of ex-convicts who disagree with me, but any man participating in a sexualy act with another man is gay as far as Iím concerned. J.L. King mentioned that DL men can spot other DL men just by eye contact. Iíve personally felt this searching probe from a gay man before, and I can honestly say that my natural reaction when I felt that a man was Ďhittingí on me or looking at me in a questioning manner, was a feeling of anger and offense. I got offended that they would even THINK that I was down with their program, and I got angry if I felt like they were trying to Ďrecruití me into their culture. But it is this same eye contact, that has told me so much about a womanís interest in a man. When women want to get with a man, they know how to look at him with eyes that suggestively flirt, íWhatís up?í

The overwhelming majority of feedback that Iíve received this week has been from women. I donít know if men arenít reading, or they just donít have anything to say about the DL, but I strongly encourage everyone to sit back and take an honest look at yourself and your partner. Black people make up only 12% of the population in America, but they make up over 50% of the newly infected HIV cases. HIV/AIDS is the LEADING cause of death for black Americans adults under 35. Not cancer, not heart disease, not diabetes, not gunshot wounds, AIDS is the number one killer in our communities, and itís steadily rising.

Everyone already knows how prevalent liquor stores, churches and pawn shops are in the black community, but when you look at the steady rise of those sheet shaker by the hour motels in the hood, then you know right there whatís REALLY going on. We live in a thong society, with young kids who donít have the strong family structure that teaches them self-respect and responsibility. Somehow we have to teach our children the imperativeness of honesty and trust in their relationships and we also have to prepare them to recognize and appropriately deal with those who are not being honest with them. Infidelity is no longer just a moral issue, itís now a life or death issue. Yaíll be safe out there.




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