The Dysfunction of DL Men


We all have a story. Each man’s journey is a difficult one. Don’t think so? Take this one particular man who identifies as a man. He loves to slay for intoxicated looks in the bar wearing overpriced Giuseppe’s but then immediately heads home to hold his wife and three kids as soon as Formation closes the night. Let’s say we take a look at another unsuspecting guy. In fact, he goes to church every Sunday. He also just so happens to be the pastor who addresses homosexuality with such distain some Sundays. He finds himself crippled by self-induced anxiety as being fearless is a struggle he can never seem to overcome.

There could be a string of stories we could weave through with DL men. They peak out of the shadows at the first glimpse of opportunity that remains too consistent in our lives. Perhaps the larger society just may be the reason why we have to deal with this DL monster to begin with. As a man who’s struggled with the DL lifestyle myself, I can tell you that public backlash and disapproval is a fight you don’t want to endure. However, it can be done.

I remember dating a guy named Malcolm when I was 25 years old. He was all the right things a naive gay young man could ask for. He was 6’2”, 220 lbs, darker skin complexioned, very muscular, and 12 percent body fat to be exact. (He always reminded me of that in funny, inspirational ways so I could start hitting the gym.) He was smart, wickedly sarcastic, corporate, yet had about 3 trap houses in Houston and…he was DL. But with all those pros, I was ready to do deal with the cons. The allure was more important to me at the time than removing the veil. I was blindly captivated because he offered me something I wasn’t able to find in openly gay men: “masculinity”.

In the black community, some men assimilate being masculine/thugged out with being desirable. Of course we know that could be further from the truth. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that being desirable also means being worthy. Am I not worth your intended caress? Am I not worth your exclusive affection? Am I not worth your undivided attention? Am I not worth a monogamous commitment? Am I not worth being invited into the most personal spaces and capacities you hold in your life? These are all questions we ask of ourselves. Interestingly enough, there are not many gay men who ask these same questions of identity to their partners. When we don’t ask these questions, we continue to perpetuate the problem. When I dated Malcolm, I didn’t find myself worthy because my actions didn’t prompt those hard questions you ask a man who desires you. Deep down, I knew I couldn’t be with him so maybe there wasn’t a need to ask those hard questions.

I also pondered…is it possible to be in a committed relationship with a man who has every intention of relegating you to secrecy and discretion? Well, that depends on how you want to be affirmed by him. Believe it or not, there are a few men who have no issued with this. There are men who are perfectly OK with not having their partner around during holidays, to be there to take care of them when they are sick without fail, to vacation with, buy property, or raise the next generation of revolutionary figures to propel the rights of the LGBT community you by default a part of. But then there are some who want to take advantage of two recent victories in our community: the ability to marry openly and adopt children LEGALLY. This, my good people, is a testament to break down the walls of mental slavery that fear locked with it’s fragile key. The fact of the matter is, I was responsible for my own personal torment during my relationship. I had not developed my own strength to not be defined by societal standards. But that was years ago. As an openly gay man, I stand in my truth. I stand in my security. I stand in a strength that no man or woman has the cerebral or emotional ability to challenge me on. There is no way you can tell me about when you’re not me. I cannot say the same for men who choose to live a DL lifestyle; I’ve been there, done that, and now selling V-necks on it in the cheap seats in the back.

However, as men there is a certain level of respect and adoration that comes from being proud of every facet of our lives. To relegate to yourself secrecy and discretion or anyone you adore out of fear of persecution is not at all “warrior behavior”. Our village needs strength in numbers and no closet you choose to fit in will ever hold that truth.



11 thoughts on “The Dysfunction of DL Men

  1. This is good…I’ve never had to live the “DL” lifestyle…well since I told my family…lol…but I was in college then so I don’t really count that as me being grown…lol…I know many people, friends who live the “DL” lifestyle…they have mad fun being gay with friends but they seem miserable when they’re with their family because they can’t live their authentic self…it’s kind of sad…but it’s the life they chose…and only for fear of being ostracized or being called a “fag” or “sissy”…

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  2. Very good read. I come from a similar experience. The guys that I am normally attracted to are usually DL which presents a problem as I am very much not. I can completely understand why a guy would choose to hide. Even with all of the recent advancements, living as an open homosexual still comes at a price. I guess I decided that I wanted to be happy in my terms pretty early on. I think my first words as a baby was “SO WHAT!!” LOL

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  3. Good read and very true! Being in a relationship with, or married to a woman and sleeping with men is where this whole “DL” thing started…The word still exists bc of the stigma thats STILL there that prevents gay men from living in there truths. I thank God every day that Im not one of those men. Do I go around wearing a “Look at me Im gay” tshirt? No, but if I’m asked, I have nothing to hide…Maybe one day the term “DL” will vanish just as quickly as it was born.

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  4. But why does it seem that masculinity and openly gay are exclusive of each other? I still don’t get/understand that. Well I understand some of it. But does that mean, if you are attracted to masculine men, you generally will be disapointed because these guys aren’t going to be open or able to committ to an openly gay guy?

    So is there a mental sickness/disconnect?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If you reverse “Down Low” you get “Low Down” the whole premise is based on shame. To be down low is to walk in the shadows like some light fearing algae, growing in dark like some fungus between someone’s toes and stink. True it takes a strong person to stand up and say, “this is me love as is or walk away”. When we let go of shame there is no room for being Down low! Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yup, u nailed it with this one. I think we all have shared the same experience dealing with the “dl” cats. No more for me! I deserve more!!! And I agree with Leland…”down low” = “low down”.

    Peace and blessings to you

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Honestly, the DL life style was something I believe we’ve all been apart of or struggled with. The truth of the matter is, what are you willing to accept. Often times our lives become more complicated based upon thoughts and biases from others around us. If you’re happy with the DL trade then be happy. Versus being upset about his wife, church and other doings. Every path has a challenge and a consequence. You must decide which one is for you.


  8. This was a good read! Im so glad that never had to resort to living my life on the DL. To those who do, you have my sympathies! The constant sneaking around, the pleasing of family, the illusion of it all would cause some folks to crash and burn. I have been around my fair share of those who is on the DL over the years while i can respect them ( to a certain extent) I dont think I could understand them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is not dysfunctional to keep your sexual identity secret. In my opinion we all have the right to privacy but once your lifestyle starts hurting you or another then it become dysfunctional. The definition of dysfunction is to not operate properly. Keeping part of your personal life secret isn’t operating improperly unless your entertaining a relationship with someone who isn’t dl or if that dysfunction impacts your life in negative ways. If you live the life of a heterosexual with a wife but occasionally go to the park and meet men. That is cheating and is dysfunctional. I personally wouldn’t be in a relationship with someone who wouldn’t ever admit to others they were with me. That would end up messing my life up and is dysfunctional from both sides of the situation.


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