Portrait of a Down-Low Brother: Ali


“Ali” is not technically a down-low brother — he is not black and actually hails from a south Asian nation. But no matter the color or culture, his story is the same.
I started chatting with Ali on a gay hook-up site. We emailed each other back and forth and then I asked. “Can I interview you for my blog?”
He agreed.
From a young age Ali knew he was attracted to men. But he didn’t get the opportunity to experiment sexually to figure out whether he was truly bisexual or gay.
In his conservative, Islamic country there was no word that meant “gay.” There were men there who were married with kids who had male lovers on the side. People might even know these men dabbled with other men, and talk about it. But there just wasn’t a definition for it.
Fast forward a few years. Ali comes to the United States to study. He makes friends with this black guy in grad school in the South. “I would just feel good around him,” Ali says.
One night they went out drinking and Ali got tore up from the floor up. Things happened. The clothes came off. Ali sucked his buddy’s dick and his buddy sucked his dick. They even tried to penetrate each other.
But the next day the alcoholic haze cleared and they didn’t talk about what had happened just the night before. His best buddy eventually got married, leaving Ali to wonder, “Am I really gay or was that just a one-time incident?”
Ali eventually married and had a daughter. But his attraction to men was still strong and he found himself not desiring his wife. He would even pick fights with her to avoid having sex.
In the end Ali did a brave thing many down-low men do not. He decided to be true to himself. He came out of the closet and confessed to his wife. They are still friendly and Ali has a good relationship with his child, but it took time and work to get to the point.
And he still paid a steep price. His family is ashamed of his sexuality and cut off contact. It seems Ali’s wife, in her initial shock, pain and anger told the family what was up.
Despite the price he paid Ali is content. He no longer ponders suicide. He no longer gambles and takes drugs to dull his inner turmoil.
“Yes, I’m happy,” he said. “Sometimes you have to move on in life.”

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