Whitey Co-Opts the Down Low

White gay men have started to use the language of the Down Low: (i.e. black men who may be married but have sex with men but think being called ‘gay’ connotes effeminacy, whiteness or weakness)

On the first of a few dates, I asked him where he worked—and whether people there knew he was gay. “Bro,” he said, “I’m on the Down Low.”” Dude,” I said, “You’re white. You can’t be on the Down Low!” “Bro,” he said. “All kinds of white people are saying they’re on the Down Low now.” “That’s ridiculous,” I protested. “Why don’t you just say you’re in the closet?” “Because the closet sounds stupid,” he said.

Ugh. Bro?

The baggage of the closet is too much for some – but they ignore the associated economic and social dynamics at work in the DL:

Keith Boykin told me he isn’t surprised that white men are co-opting the expression. “It’s become trendy to be on the DL,” he says. “It has always had an appeal because it refers less to sexuality than it does to masculinity. It’s an alluring term for men who identify as butch or masculine. The closet has a certain shame and weakness attached to it. The Down Low sounds more powerful, more empowering. It also sounds like a secret group, or club.






2 responses to “Whitey Co-Opts the Down Low”

  1. Joe Avatar

    “Bro,” he said, “I’m on the Down Low.”

    UGH! That would have been the last date!

  2. Andy Avatar

    Only thing worse than an effeminate affectation is a faux-gangsta one.

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