The Down Low vs Coming Out

down low

Down Low (noun, adjective,verb): a word used to describe men who are secretly involved in sexual relationships with other men while maintaining casual and/or long term relationships with women.

note: condoms optional (don’t ask don’t tell)

From: Finding The Down Low 

For the majority of my marriage, I was faithful to my wife, but there were a few quick, hidden outlets for my attraction to men: glances at men on the street and gay pornography. Gay and bisexual men who are married or in a relationship with woman, and who want to meet other gay men, usually find themselves on the down-low. Sex with men, if had at all, is quick and fleeting. Postings on Grindr or other smartphone apps have countless headless torso photos with men looking for ‘discrete’ or’NSA only’. When you’re living a married life, and your wife is not aware of your same-sex interests, there’s very little opportunity to develop any meaningful relationships with other gay men.

Coming out, on the other hand, is transformative. I had dinner recently with a close friend of mine and we discussed how life had changed for us since coming out and moving out of our marriages. For the first time in our adult lives, we could develop meaningful friendships and relationships with other gay men. Very quickly the no strings attached hook up, which was the only thing available to us as married men, looked dull and empty. We found that we could build healthy gay relationships with other men that continued over time.

The Down Low

One of the problems of being in the closet is that it’s hard to imagine having a deep, meaningful relationship with another gay man when the only outlet available is clandestine. Throughout my marriage, the idea of building gay friendships seemed outside the realm of possibility.

I’ve marveled at how different my gay relationships are today. They are deep, caring, out in the open, and honest. The Down Low doesn’t hold any attraction for me, and when I meet men who want something more ‘discrete’ I steer away. The Down Low, and all the secretive dangerous sex that goes along with it, is really, in part, the effect of the weight of society or culture keeping a man in the closet. It’s tragic because it destroys lives.

I am grateful to be alive now when the world is changing so rapidly and the possibilities for a full happy life for gay men are a reality.

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