The Down-Low Men I Left Behind


man walking in the night

When I think about what I did — getting into men, separating from my wife, divorcing and starting a new life on the gay side — I was either very brave, very stupid, very crazy or all three.

Would I do it again? Mostly in hindsight I say yes but then at other times I doubt myself.

But then I look at guys I have interacted with who are still down-low and doing the same thing. Remember, almost a decade has passed since I started this blog. I was in my early 40s. Now I’m in my early 50s.

And there are men out there my age and older who are still doing the DL song-and-dance.

There is Gerald, 70 years old and still creeping. Remember him from this 2014 blog post? His wife had a stroke and he wanted me to come and lay up with him at his house while she was in rehabilitation. I just couldn’t do such a disrespectful thing.

Now Gerald is recovering from prostate cancer treatment but is still as horny for man sex as ever. I have heard sexual desire really does not fade as we age — just the ability to perform.

Gerald is staring mortality in the face (we all are now that we are middle-aged) and he texted me something very poignant. He said sometimes he looks back and knows he would have been happier if he had come out as gay in college instead of just getting married to meet other people’s expectations.

To be 70 years old and regret not being your true self is profoundly sad to me.

Remember Samuel, the older Caribbean man who came to me for advice about leaving his marriage? It’s six years later and he is still with her and sneaking around like an undercover agent searching for dick. Just stuck in a rut.

Then there is Lamont — the DL businessman with the big house who creeps on his wife with men, even boldly doing so while vacationing with her on cruise ships. Well,  last month his wife and child went on a vacation together and he had the house to himself.

Like Gerald he wanted me to come lay up — and bring the condoms and lube too because he couldn’t keep stuff like that around the house where wifey could find them.

I politely turned him down. I like sex as much as the next person and he has an amazing body but the whole thing — sneaking into the house while the wife is away — just doesn’t appeal to me. It’s not sexy or exciting. It’s just kinda pathetic.

Married guys still hit up on me online. DL men my age who have been swinging with men on the sly since high school and college and are still doing that same shit at 20, 30, 40 and even a half century later. How they keep that from their wives for so long amazing me unless their wives really don’t give a fuck.

Sometimes I envy them, I gotta admit. They have the hetero-privilege, the respectability, the public persona of being upright family men. They didn’t disrupt their families and have to rebuild relationships with children, friends and other family members like I did.

But when I really sit down and think about it I’m happy and content and free. And my life is not a half-lie. So I guess I’m good.

We are going to Blatino Oasis!


Pool party at Blatino Oasis.

One of the items on my bucket list is to attend Blatino Oasis in Palm Springs, CA, one of the largest gatherings of gay and bisexual men of color in the nation.

Since my partner Van has a place in Florida and we go there often we decided it’s time to explore another locale.

So Blatino Oasis it is!

Blatino Oasis will be held next April 27-30.

The event is so popular rooms at the main venue are already booked up. However we were able to get a room at a partner, clothing-optional resort nearby.

We also paid for our event passes and now just have to book travel.

We have plenty of Southwest Airlines point so will probably fly into Los Angeles and drive or catch a short flight to Palm Springs.

I’m excited but nervous as heck. So anybody who has been to Oasis please share your reviews and tips!

From Gay to Straight: A Case of Religion-Fueled Self-Hate?


deliverance

The book cover

Seven years ago when this blog was new, I interviewed an aspiring young man who was trying to start a gay basketball league in the Washington, D.C. area.

The entry was called “Gay Men Can Jump!”

Recently this same man came up on my Facebook page as a suggested friend. I wondered how he was doing and clicked on his profile.

Wow, how seven years can change things.

Now, he says he has been delivered by God and is no longer a homosexual. He even wrote a book about it.

The book blurb reads:

God wanted Kevin to stop running from the voice of the Lord and to stop giving in to the sin of flesh. God desires for Kevin to tell the good news of what the Lord says in His Word, not only for Kevin but for all of God’s people. God wants Kevin to break barriers and the deceit that the enemy tries to portray to God’s people. He is a trailblazer and trendsetter that is destined to successfully deliver a message of hope and deliverance to all.

I don’t know this brother’s journey. I have not read the book. I haven’t talked to him in years. So I shouldn’t judge.

But I’m saddened by this development. Just seven years ago he was so pro-gay and committed to using basketball as a vehicle to help people who are same-gender loving. What happened?

I can guess.

I go to an affirming church but I know many LGBTQ people who for whatever reason don’t have the luxury of practicing their faith in a place that nurtures them.

So they go to churches that preach hate against LGBTQ people and foster self-loathing.

At least one of these churches in my area I heard still supports gay reparative therapy, which mental health organizations have long proven is a form of abuse what harms the well-being of LGBTQ people. Plus, trying to change people from gay to straight just doesn’t work.

My partner “Van” and I know at least two gay men in the Washington, D.C. area who attend Baptist churches where the minister has been known to preach against people who are LGBTQ, even though many of these same people are very active in the congregations and make donations every week.

Yet another gay man I know of Caribbean descent attends  a Baptist Church here after growing up in the Pentecostal Faith.

Although he is in his mid 40s, financially successful and attends events such as Sizzle and black gay ski trips, this person still feels guilty about his sexuality. He hasn’t even told his parents who are almost 70.

That is because he was brought up in a church that pounded into his psyche that being homosexual was a sin. And his Caribbean culture and his parents just reinforced that.

“Hey I’m still a church boy at heart,” he said. “And homosexuality is wrong.”

I’m sorry. I believe God loves us all and didn’t make a mistake when he made us.

Jesus never condemned LGBTQ people but he did condemn people who were hypocrites and urged people to love their neighbor as they loved themselves. Jesus went out of his way to minister to people who were the outcasts of first century Jewish society, including lepers, tax collectors and the poor.

I just wish more black gay men would get this message.

 

 

 

Broke Back Mountain Baltimore Style


blacksteelworkers

Black steelworkers. Photo courtesy of ITVS.org.

Baltimore’s economy today is fueled by universities, state government, hospitals and Under Armour sportswear.

But not too long ago this Rust Belt City was heavily industrial, filled with factories and hulking smokestacks.

An acquaintance, “Kenny,” told me about how he hooked up with a long term sex partner back in the 70s when Baltimore was still a city of industry.

Kenny was married with kids and worked at a Bethlehem Steel plant in Sparrows Point. The job was hot and gritty and dirty so workers showered in the locker room before changing back into street clothes and going home.

Kenny befriended another married man on his shift named “Omar.” For some reason, although Omar worked on a different team, he always made excuses to shower the same time as Kenny.

They would banter and joke back and forth, talking about sports or whether Lola Falana was hotter than Jayne Kennedy or “Sanford and Son” was a funnier TV show than “That’s My Mama!” Omar would never rush to put on his clothes and would stand naked talking to Kenny, acting  as natural as can be.

For years Kenny knew he was attracted to woman and men. So he didn’t mind getting a chance to look at Omar’s tall, dark, lean body and his long dick, all glistening and wet from the shower.

Soon they started sharing rides with each back in the city. Omar would brag about his past sexual conquests with women, rubbing and grabbing his crotch to make his point. Kenny would be so turned on he could barely look at Omar — his palms would sweat as he tightly held the steering wheel.

Then one day it happened.

“You want to play with this dick, don’t you?” Omar asked.

“You know, yeah I do,” Kenny answered.

And he pulled over the car on a dark side street in West Baltimore, leaned over, pulled Omar’s dick out of his pants and sucked it.

Soon Omar and Kenny were hooking up every week or every other week.

“We were fucking like rabbits — I loved taking that big dick,” Kenny said.

Since they worked at the steel plant at night it was easy to hook up. Their wives worked during the day and the kids were at school so they had either house to themselves.

“It was like a relationship,” Kenny said. “Since we both worked at the same plant it was easy because we could socialize together with our families. He knew my wife and I knew his wife.”

This went on for years. They only had one close call when Omar’s wife came home from work unexpectedly during the day and almost caught them fucking.

Today the men are in their sixties. They are just friends now — they haven’t had sex in several years. Omar is still with his wife while Kenny divorced his wife and is out.

“There was a whole lot of gay sex going on back in the day,” Kenny said. “You just kept things more quiet.”

 

 

 

 

Young Love in the 80’s


Photo courtesy of nih.gov.

Gay black men in the 80s, the period when Phil and Darnell fell in love. Photo courtesy of nih.gov.

My friend  “Phil” told me this story about how he fell in love in the South in the early ’80s. I changed a few details to protect his privacy.

Phil and his older brother “Gus” are both gay. But Gus was bold and didn’t care and proudly came out of the closet when he was a teenager, and was soon a familiar face in all the gay bars in New Orleans.

Phil, who was more studious and quiet than his brother, stayed in the closet and busy studying while in college. Afraid to disappoint his loving parents by telling them yet another one of their sons was gay.

That was until Gus brought home his friend “Darnell,” a tall, broad-shouldered, brown-skinned black man with a mustache and short Afro, which was still in style as the 80s dawned.

Darnell went into the military but that didn't cool off the romance with Phil. Photo courtesy of ethosmagonline.com.

Darnell went into the military but that didn’t cool off the romance with Phil. Photo courtesy of ethosmagonline.com.

“I knew my brother had probably fucked around with Darnell but that didn’t matter,” Phil said. “We took one look at each other and the attraction was there. We soon became inseparable.”

More than 30 years later Phil said he has never had a love affair as intense as the one he had with Darnell. He liked the way Darnell talked. The way he walked. The way he smelled.

They didn’t have an opportunity to have sex often — family was often around. And when they did they mostly just tongue kissed and bumped and grinded. But Phil said the feelings were still intense.

“That man could touch me with all my clothes on and his touch would make me cum,” he remembered.

Phil was a sophomore at Xavier and working part-time at J.C. Penney but Darnell did not have so much going for him. So his grandmother, who raised him, persuaded Darnell to join the military and get out of New Orleans before he fell in with a bad crowd and got in trouble.

Darnell went away to basic training in Oklahoma. But his love for Phil didn’t stop — in fact the separation intensified it. He called Phil collect almost every day, running up the phone bill. And almost every night Phil would sit at the dining room table alone studying into the night, waiting for Darnell to call.

Darnell even managed to get an allotment for Phil so that each month a portion of his military paycheck went to his love back home in Louisiana. Phil cashed the checks and hid the money under his mattress.

You see, Phil was saving the money because he planned to run away with Darnell after Darnell got out of basic training and went to his first post in California.

They had it all planned out. Phil would drop out of college, get an apartment off base with Darnell, and work at J.C. Penney’s to help them make ends meet.

But the two lovers ended up as star-crossed as Romeo and Juliet.

Gay poet and activist Essex Hemphill (right) in the 1980s. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Gay poet and activist Essex Hemphill (right) in the 1980s. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Phil’s mother was cleaning the house and changed the linen in the room and found a few hundred dollars in cash between the box spring and the mattress. She guessed immediately what was going on — mothers often know their children better than their children know themselves.

Phil was studying at the kitchen table, waiting on the collect call from Darnell as usual, when his mother confronted him and forced him out of the closet.

“I know what is going on — you plan to run away with Darnell,” she said, her eyes brimming with tears of love and sympathy. “I see you mooning around this house waiting on him to call. It’s obvious what is going on. It’s breaking my heart to see you like this.”

“Baby, you have to live your life and you have a lot of life to live. You have to finish college and make a better life than your father and me did.”

Darnell’s family found out too. You see, Darnell came home on leave for a month before shipping out to California. At the airport he cried so long and hard when he was saying goodbye to Phil that a blind man could see the two were in love.

Darnell’s grandmother narrowed her eyes looking at the spectacle and sucked her teeth. Darnell had already urged her to write a letter to the Army making up an excuse so he could be honorably discharged and come home. Now she knew why.

“A few days later his grandmother wrote me a letter demanding I sever ties with Darnell,” Phil said. “She said homosexuality was wrong and quoted all these Bible passages.”

The pressure from the two families worked. The two broke up.

“It wouldn’t have worked anyway,” Phil said. “After California the military was shipping Darnell to South Korea. I couldn’t follow him overseas. Remember, these were in the days way before President Clinton’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy. I would have jeopardized Darnell’s military career by following him around.”

So years passed. Darnell married a woman but soon divorced her and came out of the closet. Phil got over his first love and developed other relationships and moved away from New Orleans. But the two remained friends, although mostly the extent of the relationship today is keeping up with each other on Facebook.

Q: Okay readers tell me about your first love!

It’s a Top World and Bottoms Just Live in It


I’m on vacation and yesterday “Van” and I went to lunch with friends on Baltimore’ Federal Hill.

During the meal I mentioned the story I had heard of a bottom who went to a sex party in the city, got some outrageously good dick from a handsome top, and clung to him half the night.

When the top decided to fuck another bottom the first bottom got angry and wanted to fight the new guy. The fracas broke up the party, which was in a hotel room, and I think hosts had to ask the dick-struck bottom to leave.

One of our buddies “Conrad,” who is a strict bottom, said he could relate. It seems for many bottoms getting good dick is hard to find and when you find it they want to hold on to it, he said.

Complicating matters is that there is a double standard in the gay world that mirrors a similar one in the heterosexual one.

A top can fuck as many men as he wants but bottoms who snag alot of dick get a reputation for being loose hoes and used up, Conrad said.

And forget about trying to forge a relationship,  which is already difficult in the gay world.

Conrad told the story of a handsome guy he hooked up with who had an 11- or 12-inch dick.

The sex was good and Conrad later texted the guy saying he just wanted to hang out. He really liked the guy’s personality.

He got a chilly response. “I only hang out weekends at the bars or clubs,” the top said.

Conrad later learned the guy gets so many hits from bottoms craving his big dick he just hits and leaves them and has no interest in developing anything deeper.

For this top the world is his oyster. Bottoms can’t even get a fish stick.

“Well I’m verse. Why don’t you try doing that more to get more play,” Van suggested.

Conrad just looked at  Van funny. “I’m a total bottom. I like what I like.”

Trey and the Hollywood Actor


Darryl Stephens, who starred in the series "Noah's Arc," is one of only a handful of openly gay black male actors in Hollywood. My buddy Trey says if all the gay black men in the entertainment industry came out of the closet a lot of fans would have heart attacks.

Darryl Stephens, who starred in the series “Noah’s Arc,” is one of only a handful of openly gay black male actors in Hollywood. My buddy Trey says if all the gay black men in the entertainment industry came out of the closet a lot of fans would have heart attacks.

“Trey” is a 40-something professional I know who is in the hospitality industry. He  frequently travels for business. He gave me this account about how he met a well-known African American actor who is down-low and how there are more gay black men than you think in the entertainment industry.

Trey was on business in Los Angeles eight years ago when he decided to go on a gay chat line and got hit up on by “Jarvis,” a medium height, well built man with pecan brown skin, liquid brown eyes and a dazzling smile.

“I doubt we can meet in Los Angeles,” Trey said. “I’m leaving tomorrow morning for New York City for work.”

“Oh, what a coincidence,” said Jarvis, who had a tenor voice as smooth as butter. “I’m going to New York for a job in a day or two. We can meet there.”

So they agreed to meet in Manhattan the following week. When Jarvis walked into the hotel lobby Trey thought he looked familiar. And then it hit him.

Jarvis was an actor in his 40’s who in film had played alongside some of the most popular black actors and comedians in Hollywood, including Loretta Devine, Ice Cube and Katt Williams.

He was also a guest star on several popular detective and police TV series.

“Trey, you have got to be kidding me? He’s gay?,” I said after he told me the actor’s real name. “He’s handsome and all but I would have never thought.”

“Yep, he is gay or at least very bisexual,” Trey answered. “We started dating and he showered me with gifts and money and flew me out to Los Angeles all the time. I was smart about it. Half of the money he gave me I put in the bank.”

Trey is a light-skinned man from Trinidad. He is not particularly handsome but has a great personality and is slight of build with a bubble ass. He is also masculine with a deep voice with a slight but appealing Trinidadian tinge to it.

But to top it off Trey is a beast bottom in the bedroom. So I could see someone trying to lock that down.

The sex was spectacular and the Trey and Jarvis seemed to enjoy each others’ company. But after a year or so the relationship abruptly ended.

“He told me he had hired a live-in maid so next time I came out to L.A. she would be at his house.”

“So I flew out and called him and this woman answered,” Trey continued. “And I asked, ‘Who is this?'”

“And she got testy and said, ‘Who the hell are you? I am Jarvis’ fiancee.'”

Trey said he got very angry. He knew athletes and actors on the down-low often had male lovers in cities they frequented but he thought he had developed a close relationship with Jarvis.

Jarvis had never mentioned he was dating a woman, much less planning to marry one.

“So I told her what was up,” Trey said. “Jarvis called me later and was upset as shit, asking why I pushed him out of the closet like that. But I told him he was wrong for not telling me about her.”

There was a question I had to ask.

“But Trey he was asking you to L.A. to stay in the same house with his fiancee. Do you think he might have wanted to get down with both of you? Maybe at the same time?”

“He might have wanted that but that was not the way to do it surprising me like that,” Trey said. “At any rate they got married the next year.”

Many of the stories Trey told me mirrored accounts I read in "Hiding in Hip Hop," a book about down-low men in the entertainment industry written by Terrance Dean.

Many of the stories Trey told me mirrored accounts I read in “Hiding in Hip Hop,” a book about down-low men in the entertainment industry written by Terrance Dean.

Trey was introduced to the celebrity down-low world through other friends. He has rattled off names of some actors and music artists he knows are gay or bisexual because he has gone to exclusive parties in the Hamptons and other places where these guys congregate.

The code when you are invited to these events is you don’t talk about what happens or you get locked out forever.

“These parties were like regular house parties but these estates are so big and there were many rooms so you would walk around and come across guys having sex,” Trey said. “Once I went into the bathroom and there was this (well known black model) on his knees sucking a white man’s dick.”

He rattled off names of many down-low celebrities I recognized. A rap music mogul, a comedian and actor, and three rappers, including one who is well known for throwing homophobic rants both in his music and in public.

Some of the stories Trey told me would make great gossip fodder on TMZ, including one about this married rapper who has been popular from way back in the day.

“He had a male lover on the side,” Trey said. “And he moved him onto his estate. The wife got so upset she moved into the guest house. But she stayed married to him. Eventually the lover had to go.”

Trey said women who are married to these men probably know they play with males on the side. But they ignore it because they are getting the money and prestige.

Trey is visiting Baltimore this weekend. I can’t wait to introduce him to Van and hang out with him so I can hear more stories.