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Coming up from the down Low: The Journey to Acceptance, Healing, and Honest Loveby J.L. King
Synopses & Reviews
Early last year, my photo appeared on the cover of Jet magazine. I was wearing a slick black designer suit over an open-collared white shirt-the photo was serious, sexy, and undeniably masculine. As a black man who came of age in the 1960s and 70s, appearing on the cover of the legendary Jet magazine was an important signifier that I'd made it. To me, Jet is still the final word on who's who in the black community. But it was even more important than that to me. You see, one of the great fears of every man or woman who hides the truth about their sexuality is that as soon as they're exposed, they'll be cast out of the community, exiled for breaking the rules. For me, that fear was multiplied many times over. When I published my first book, which revealed my own complicated sexual life in detail, I wasn't just exposing myself to my immediate friends and family, but I was bascially stripping myself naked in front of the entire community. If I was going to be rejected and cast out for what I revealed about myself, there was no place for me to turn.
Which brings me back to that Jet magazine cover. When I got that first copy of the magazine in my hands, my heart swelled-not just with pride, but with relief. I saw in it an affirmation that people—my own people—understood and respected what I was doing and still embraced me. I blew that photo up into a giant poster and hung it in my office. It's there now, the first thing any visitor sees.
But the next day, I got a rude awakening when I turned on my radio to listen to the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Tom Joyner's radio show is like the electronic equivalent of Jet magazine; it's the most popular radio show among black people around the country, with a national audience in the millions. I tuned into the show to hear Joyner and his comedian sidekick, J. Anthony Brown, howling about the Jet photograph. They were straight clowning me, talking about how gay I looked and how only a dummy would ever believe that I could pass myself off as straight. I was deeply embarrassed. They went on and on to the point where I decided to go back and look at the magazine myself. By now, I was embarrassed to even pick up the magazine again. For the photo to become such a big joke, I figured it must be pretty bad. Eventually I picked up the magazine and checked out the photo again. Yep, there I was, just as I remembered, staring back at the camera, my features set, my posture rigid, my clothing perfectly stylish but by no means effeminate.
I started wondering why Joyner and his morning show crew seemed to be pushing their joke so hard. But then it suddenly came to me. Let me explain: In traditional black male culture, we're taught from a young age to fear the sissy, the freak, the faggot. But we're also taught that it's easy to pick one out of a crowd, which is why as a man, you're taught to be very careful about the signals you give off. For instance, when I was a kid, if my father caught me crossing my legs a certain way when I sat down, he'd rush over and push my knees apart to make sure my feet were planted firmly on the ground. "Never cross your legs like that-that's how women sit," he'd tell me. Really? I clearly wasn't a woman, I was a little boy, but the unspoken message in my father's words was that appearances count-to appe
A follow-up to his frank study of the lives of homosexual and bisexual African-American men who outwardly live their lives as heterosexuals offers helpful information and advice for women affected by the "Down Low" lifestyle, with information on HIV risks, identifying such behavior in one's partner, how men keep their secrets, and more. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.
The dramatic follow-up to the controversial bestseller that has all of America talking...
In his first book, On the Down Low, J. L. King introduced readers to thedeceptive underground world of the down low (DL), the subculture of men leading straight lives while secretly sleeping with other men. In that first book, King's own life was exhibitA-he lived for years as a DL man and was able to expose this lifestyle with unique authority.
In this blockbuster new book, King takes readers to the next level in his exploration of thedown-low world by answering the most common questions from the thousands of people he's met while traveling the country. He provides more in-depth information about the lives of men on the DL, dispels the mostcommon myths, and addresses the most frequently asked question of all: What are the signs? But more than that, he tells of his own transformation over the last year, as he's moved into a more honest evaluation ofhis own life and the lives of other men on the DL who are trying to emerge from their web of deceit. And he courageously points to the urgent problems in our communities that drive men into such dangerous and recklesslives and keep them there.
Filled with fascinating stories from the men who have lived on the down low and the women who have struggled through it with them, Coming Up from the DownLow shines more light on a phenomenon that has touched the lives of too many. It's a vital call for greater love, tolerance, and forgiveness in our individual lives and in the lives of our communities, and an inspiration to all of us to embrace the liberating power of the truth.
The source of my expertise on this subject is, quite simply, my own life. I've lived this and beenstruggling down the road of understanding my entire life. Since the publication of the first book I've made further progress down that road, helped along by the thousands of you who responded. The insightsI've gotten have transformed my understanding of this phenomenon and transformed my life. I want to share those insights with you now, to help you better understand the down-low phenomenon, yes, but also to helpyou better understand the potential liberating power of honesty, acceptance, and healing in our personal lives and in the life of our community. -from theIntroduction
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
J. L. King is the bestselling author of On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of “Straight” Black Men Who Sleep with Men. His expertise has been cited in national publications such as the New York Times, Jet, Newsweek, and Essence, and his television appearances have ranged from CNN to The Oprah Winfrey Show. The father of three, he divides his time between Chicago and Atlanta.
Courtney Carreras, a freelance writer, is the former editor in chief of YRB magazine and author of The White Man’s Guide to Hip Hop Survival. She lives in Harlem, New York.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
The cycle — The real issue is infidelity — There are no signs — Change is possible — Moving past the down low — Women speak out — Men speak out — To thine own self be true — 15 questions.
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