The Straight-Up Truth About the Down Low
By Joy Marie
Book Review by Dennis Moore
December 9, 2009 (San Diego) -- While having dinner at a friend’s home this past Thanksgiving, my friend told me that her friend’s husband had left her after more than 30 years of marriage for a man that he had been having a homosexual relationship with for years. This occurrence, which seems to be more commonplace than previously thought, is the topic profiled in The Straight-Up Truth About The Down-Low, a book written two co-authors using the pseudonym Joy Marie.
The topic of this book seems to be our dirty little secret, at least in the black community, mostly because of the damage it has caused the family structure and because of fears of exposure to HIV. The CDC has now confirmed the link between men on the down-low and the spread of the HIV infection to black women by means of heterosexual sex with homosexual men. African-American women are being infected at a rate of 23 black women to every 1 white woman.
Religious people in the black community are also often inclined to hide perceived unseemly unions between members of the same sex. Sure, we have heard of the Catholic Church sexual scandals, but we didn’t seem to associate it that much with the black community.
This book was not written to bash homosexuality. The authors are not homophobic women, but truthful women willing to be truthful about debilitating experiences. They are not bashing gays because they do not feel they should judge anyone. The betrayal, deception and unfairness of ensnaring women and ruining their lives because some men lack courage to live their own truths--that’s what the authors are standing up against. They believe that when the public is armed with information, women will have a fair chance of not being victimized by the down-low.
In the book, women share their stories of betrayal, pain and survival, possibly another reason why the authors had initially chosen to publish their book under a pseudonym. Marie recently informed me that her husband had died, which has made her more inclined to come from up under that pseudonym.
So, what is the “Down-Low?” Marie states; “The ‘down-low,’ ‘DL,’ ‘Tha Low,’ ‘Tha low Low,’ all refer to men who secretly have sex with other men while in sexual relationships with women. She may be his wife, girlfriend, or just a friend with benefits, but the down-low specifies that she is not ‘in the know’ about his homosexual activities. These men do not consider themselves gay or bisexual because they do not wish to be associated with the perception of gay, effeminate men. In fact, they actually shun all labels. Some of them consider their secretive homosexual lifestyle to be just another extracurricular activity.”
She elaborates, “Although the term ‘down-low’ originated in the African-American community to indicate something on the ‘hush-hush,’ it is now used to describe men of all races who have sex with other men undercover. We have found that this behavior is not new, nor is it specific to black men who have sex with men. White men who engage in this same dangerous behavior are said to be ‘in the closet.’ From our research, we have discovered there is really no difference between Black men being on the down-low and any other men being in the closet – they are all closeted homosexuals. These men come in all ages, races, shapes, sizes, professions, and even religions. Most are hard to detect at first glance. Some of these men have been practicing this lifestyle for many years and therefore have become very skillful at hiding their true identities. They believe that what they do privately is their own business and what we don’t know won’t hurt us.”
In talking with Marie, who uses her pseudonym out of fear for her safety, she informed me that women also participate in this “Down-Low” lifestyle.
The point that Marie wants to get over to the reader is that there is an insidious behavior in our community and society, that is destroying the fabric of male-female relationships, thereby casting a cloud of suspicion over even genuine relationships.
The Straight-Up Truth About The Down-Low was written by two women, who met on the Internet while seeking answers to their newfound reality, a reality that now many women share. Marie has indicated to me that they had loved, trusted, and shared their lives with men who lived a lie. Together, the authors had vowed to dedicate their lives to helping other women who would find themselves victims of down-low men. Joy Marie’s intent is to make other women aware of the dangerous, promiscuous sexual practices that actually take place in the “down-low” lifestyle.
If I could take just a bit of editorial license in this matter, and as I have a 16-year old daughter that will one day grow up into a woman, and possibly marry, I wouldn’t want her to have to share such a story of betrayal, pain and survival such as Joy Marie has endured. That pain is exemplified in this excerpt:
“You can’t believe it. It can’t possibly be true. No, not him – and no, not you, but somewhere deep in your heart, you know it really is true. All the pieces of the puzzle were there, but you couldn’t and didn’t want to connect the dots because your heart refused to believe what your brain and your intuition were telling you. What happened to your dream, your life, and your sense of security? Something suddenly snatched it all away, but where were you? Why didn’t you see it coming?”
In talking to Marie, she wanted me to know how this book, this crusade, has basically consumed her life. She speaks of receiving calls from similarly-situated women in distress over the matter, and she wanted to emphasize certain points for clarity. Joy Marie speaks with women in crisis by phone, blogs, e-mails and message boards every day. One of those women, Cassie, with whom I have communicated by e-mail over the last year, states in regard to Marie; “She sent it to me in the mail after I met her on MySpace and told her about what happened to me. I have read the book several times and she has enlightened me on the whole situation. Everything she has in her book is exactly how I lived my life with my ex for 13 years (seven of which were married). From the Nair used for body hair removal, from the website and secret dating chats. Reading her book actually helped me become the stronger person I am today. I absolutely love her, she has helped so many lives by writing her book, understanding how we were tricked by these type of men and understanding that it is not our fault has helped the recovery process from such a traumatic event heal the pain faster.”
Marie states that the Down-Low is not a black man thing. It is a human thing experienced by women all across the country of every ethnicity and even in other countries. Marie wanted to emphasize to me that the woman on the phone last night in distress, was a white woman married 32 years. She seems to get calls from every segment of society in regard to this matter. This book does not single out the black community … it just happened to be written by two black women, who very well could have been white. Marie further wanted to emphasize that they needed to get the point across so that people realize that she and her co-author wrote the book to help everyone, not just our black community. It is very true though, that the black community as a whole would rather this subject stay kept under a rock for eternity. We, as a culture have always protected the dirty little secrets that we think the public will use to define us, but the secrecy only causes hurt and pain, especially for those being victimized, and it encourages the behavior by letting it flourish and grow amongst us like a fungus.
Joy Marie speaks with women on the phone every day and answers letters and emails routinely on the matter. The down-low is an isolating betrayal; those who have not been through it have difficulty understanding why a man would take a wife, produce children and create a life built on deception, thereby manipulating the life of the unassuming woman. Marie’s marriage spanned 30 years. She is a middle-aged woman now that wonders what life could have been and vows that now she has the strength to move on from this and make the best of her waning years.
There are children involved in these situations. For example, Marie feared what her ex-husband would do to her when he realized she wrote a book about their experience. But her biggest fear was hurting the wonderful children she had conceived with this man, who are now grown, and loved their father. It seems so unfair, says Marie, to her that her children should have to endure even a modicum of what she has felt. He was a great father who brought much joy to his children, says Marie. Marie is obligated by her survival to help others overcome and survive this betrayal also. That really is what this book is all about.
Dennis Moore is a writer, author, and a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. He has written for LifeAfter50 Magazine in Pasadena, East County Magazine in San Diego, and the Baja Times Newspaper in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. He is the president of a consulting, marketing and promotions company in San Diego, California, Contracts & Agency, LLC. Mr. Moore is also the president of his Church’s, Bethel Memorial A.M.E., Prison Ministry in San Diego.
The Bracelet, By Charles A. Bonner
The author of The Bracelet refers to this book as provocative.
The Bracelet, by Charles A. Bonner
Charles A. Bonner has written a book about sexual perversion, and man's inhumanity to women, just as in Joy Marie's The Straight Up Truth about the Down-Low. But, the big difference is that children are the victims. The Bracelet speaks of child sex slavery throughout the world.
Submitted by Alicia - The Down-low
Wow, this book was so very enlightening! I can truly say that this open my eyes to the many DL men that try to creep into our lives. Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down! Please continue to keep the many naive women such as myself informed through your very real and insightful book... I thank God for women such as you, who are not afraid to speak out!
As a man, comfortable in his own sexuality, and the reviewer of this book, I am still wondering why men would want to creep into the lives of unsuspecting women, while living a double life with a man. Call me naïve, but this betrayal in trust and human emotions has to be honestly addressed in our community.
WOW!! The Straight Up Truth About The Down Low, was phenomenal. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. It's amazing how you think you now a person and then you find out something like this. Joy Marie, you two women are a Godsend. I want to personally thank you, from the bottom of my heart for opening our eyes, and helping us to see that this type of thing is happening all around us. I have had the pleasure of meeting one of the authors (MARIE). This young women has something to say, and I'm all ears. This book she wrote, not because she wanted to get back at the person who betrayed her, but because she cares about women, all women. So all I would like to say is ladies, talk to your sisters, aunties, daughters, etc. Tell them all to pick up this book, read it. It will help all of us out in the future. I look forward to reading other books, and would love for you to come to Atlanta, and speak to the women here. God bless you!
This book was shocking. I
This book was shocking. I know Marie Personally and when I met her I bought her book and she warned me that there were things in the book that were disturbing. When I read it I was shocked at what the men would put in the advertisements on the internet to meet up with other men like them. I never had heard of the down low until I met Marie and I think this book will help alot of women and men see the signs that maybe they have been trying not to see. I know that Marie and her children went through alot of pain and she does not want anyone else to go through what they went through. I pray for her and her children that the healing can begin.
As the reviewer of Joy Marie's book, I must admit, I was not prepared for the revelations brought out in their book. Everyone needs to read this book, and start the open and honest dialogue in our community to address these issues of betrayal. Also, and as Joy Marie pointed out, women are on the Down-Low too.
No matter what! - Marie
My passion runs very deep about the down-low and it will never, ever change. The down-low is not something I learned about, it is so much more than that. It was thirty plus years of my very life. When my ex-husband was still alive I could not be as vocal and visible as I am now. I was afraid to let the world know that I coauthored this book about such a controversial matter. For four years now I yearned for the time to come that I could shout out to all of my sisters, black, white, yellow and brown and tell them all that I have experienced as the "covergirl." I can tell them how my very core ebbed away while the man I thought loved me.... kept hidden from me that he was really homosexual and preferred to be with any man rather than be with me. I can share with women how being deceived on such a basic level can shake a woman such that her judgement seems distorted and she loses all confidence in herself.
I don't want my sisters to have to go through this and I am here to help anyone at all that finds themselves facing it.
Peace and Love,
I feel your passion and pain!
Joy Marie, I have tried my best to convey your message, in my book review and comments, for I feel your passion and pain. I will continue to be an advocate for you, and do all I can to provide you a platform to get your message out. You are not in this alone.
May God Bless,
Dennis thank you so much for writing such an informative book review. It is definitely time for the African American community to wake-up and address the DL elephant in the room.
Ms. Parker, I actually learned something myself by writing the review, not knowing that this situation was as prevalent in our community. You are so right Joy, we definitely need to wake-up and address the Down-Low elephant in the room. We can start by having open and honest discussions in forum settings throughout the country, possibly on the Oprah Winfrey Show, in my hometown of Chicago. I have already made overtures to Dr. Julianne Malveaux of Bennett College for Women, to host such a session. I am waiting to hear back from her. This can be the healing and therapy our community needs, and especially for the countless women that have expressed their hurt and betrayal.
Men on the downlo
There's a serious game being played on us women.The down low is real.Men are being dumbed down everyday and even they don't know it.The down low is a serious contract breaker and home wrecker.How dishonest can you be.
I had a homosexual male friend that I've known all my life tell me that he was suppose to get married a few years back but he backed out knowing that he couldn't perpetuate the lie. He was honest and straight forward with his then fiance.A real man would do the right thing. How many real men do we really know? The black family is in serious trouble.We have a serious disconnect going on in our community.We have always had homosexuals but the down low male is a coward.He is seriously afraid of someone or something.I consider myself spiritual not religious. The Holy Bible is the one and only rule book when it comes to guidance for living.How many real preachers have been able to reach these down low men?
concerned and caring
I agree, the Holy Bible has significance in this matter.
Wonderful review, Mr. Moore.
Wonderful review, Mr. Moore. This book has been and continues to be life-saving across all racial lines and financial levels. From the very first paragraph this book grips you and holds you until the very end. One of the most important books of our decade!
Thank you for the accolades for my writing the review, but the true accolades should go to the co-authors, Joy Marie, for being strong and courage filled women. It really doesn't surprise me though, for our women have always set the standard for courage. I feel honored that these women have allowed me to help them with their project.
I feel compelled to weigh in on Sharon Courmousis' comments, just as I felt honored and compelled to write the book review for this provocative and controversial subject. The story of Joy Marie needed to be told, and the subject matter needed to be taken out of the closet(s), and honestly examined and addressed. As Sharon Courmousis stated, there are children involved in these affairs, and there is hurt and deceit all around. I didn't want this review to be a judgement of anyone, for I have tried so hard in life to put that tendency behind me, and Joy Marie themselves, indicated in their book that they were not gay bashing or being judgmental. The demonstrated facts speak for themselves! Sharon speaks of deceit, and I can't argue against that. I know Sharon, the owner of Sacred Rocks Retreat in Boulevard, California, to be an honorable and spiritual women, and when she speaks of deceit in her comments regarding the subject matter of Joy Marie's book, she speaks from her heart. I once sat with Sharon in the midst of a Labyrynth at her picturesque retreat, and we spoke of peace and tranquility, which seems to go hand in hand with her comments about decency. Perhaps we should convene a book signing/author speak at Sacred Rock retreat, where Joy Marie, and all other interested parties, can openly and honestly discuss the subject matter of their book. This needs to be brought out in the open, to openly examine and address. I will do all I can to help facilitate this, as I was actually scheduled to facilitate a workshop at a Writer's Retreat at Sharon's Sacred Rocks Retreat, but unfortunately was not able to attend. Sacred Rocks would be the perfect venue to have some serious discussion and examination of this matter. I applaude Joy Marie for being two strong women, and for bringing the subject matter to the forefront of our consciousness.