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Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America Paperback – Bargain Price, January 2, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the past year, J.L. King's On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep with Men, a New York Times Magazine piece and Oprah attention helped make a cultural phenomenon out of life "on the DL." Here, writer and activist Boykin (One More River to Cross) addresses what he sees as the implicitly racist and homophobic undertones of the media's coverage. He offers a point-by-point refutation of King's take on the DL - King's book, Boykin says, suffers from overgeneralizations, inconsistencies and distortions - and accuses King of serving up another "stereotypical image of black men as pathological liars, surreptitiously satisfying their primitive sexual cravings by cheating on their wives." But the heart of Boykin's argument is that the media, which often blame closeted black men for transmitting HIV to their female partners, are avoiding the opportunity to responsibly discuss the realities of sexuality, gender, race and AIDS. Boykin lucidly draws on science as well as personal experience in this important book. And while many of the cultural manifestations of black sexuality that Boykin documents here are fascinating - e.g., references to the DL (which Boykin defines as cheating on a partner regardless of one's sexuality) in popular music - the power of his book comes from his impassioned call to examine the real facts of sexual behavior and HIV transmission. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Keith Boykin is one of America's leading commentators on race and sexual orientation. He has appeared on CNN, Fox News, and NPR, and been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today, among many other publications. Boykin is currently a contestant in the Showtime reality show American Candidate, which airs nationally in Fall 2004. A graduate of Harvard Law School, the author served as special assistant to President Clinton on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues. Today Boykin is president of the National Black Justice Coalition, an organization established in 2003 to marshal African-American support for same-sex marriage rights. He is the author of One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America and Respecting the Soul: Daily Reflections for Black Lesbians and Gays. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (January 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786717041
  • ASIN: B001G8WPV2
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,216,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Black men historically were portrayed as sexual predators. Harper Lee's classic novel 'To kill a mockingbird' after all had a black man standing trial in a deep south courtroom for allegedly assaulting a white woman, also realizing that his fair trial was a long-shot. The father, Atticus Finch became a town pariah only for believing that his client deserved justice.

Yet, America likes to believe that we have moved beyond this and 'Willie Horton'. In our schools, mass media, and pop culture, we desperately want to believe that people are being treated fairly. This and the black community's historic memory of 'savagery/respectabilty' portrayals are not helping the intended audiences.

Keith Boykin clarifies that America is still hung up on the intersection of sex, sexuality, and ethnicity. He also argues the hang-up prevents black men and communities from having a needed dialogue about sexuality and civil rights. Black people who find themselves outside the heterosexual binary are being attacked by the dominant society, but also face resistance from within their own communities. Some black churches who easily grasp (and were in the forefront for) racial equality are silent on sexuality, or worse---promote hatred.

Boykin also takes on the recent inroads which white conservatives are making to black churches to downplay their past support for segregation. Because these same people have attacked and/or are attacking civil rights, Boykin is skeptical of their motives. He believes that the white conservatives are only trying to divide black communities and thus prevent real equality for all communities from being realized. Boykin argues that Black churches should not support movements which argue on behalf of discrimination.
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Format: Hardcover
Thoughtful, intellectual, compassionate, and soulful describe Keith's Boykin's new book, Beyond The Down Low. The book is filled with interesting examples that support Keith's point that the down low is only new to the cult-like group now embracing it. Many of us have known about the down low long before it became popular. In fact, what is now considered down low is not really that at all -- at least not in the way it was previously used. Back then, no one would ever acknowledge being on the down low -- it would defeat it's purpose.

Using history, politics, and everyday people, Keith inspires us as a culture to look within ourselves enough to open up about HIV/AIDS and the down low. He asks us consider the plight of black gay and bisexual men and how society has groomed the very down low behavior it now condemns.

This book is truly inspirational, and after you finish reading it, you will have grown.
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Format: Hardcover
As an African-American woman who had a 2 year serious relationship with a man whom I later found out was on the "down-low", I was excited to have the opportuntity to read Mr. Boykin's latest book.I felt that the book was provocative, eye-opening and didn't pander to the media hype that has been directed to this subject that so many have identified with the "Black Community" solely. Mr. Boykin has done the research and asked the hard questions that others have ignored ---as to why "straight men" have sex with men or anyone else that may not be true to themselves or those that they love. I find it interesting that the previous review was more of a "personal attack" on the author instead of a critical anaylsis of the book itself and what it states. I have read Mr. Boykin's previous 2 books as well as DL King's book ( which was written in all actuality by Karen Hunter)and can say that Mr. Boykin's success can be based on merit and not on the coat tails of those before him. Congratulations on Mr. Boykin for making NY Time's Bestseller's List for the past several weeks and for giving back to his community by creating open and honest dialogue about the down-low, sexuality , HIV/Aids and recognizing what are the "truths" and "myths" of the black community.
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Format: Hardcover
"Part of what concerned me [about King and the "Down Low" phenomenon being publicized in the media] was that the connection between the down low and black women seemed a bit illogical. There were two ways to look at it. Either the down low was new or the down low was old, but either way it did not make sense. If the down low was new in 2001, it could not have been responsible for an epidemic that was twenty years old. On the other hand, if the down low was old in 2001, then we should have been alarmed about HIV infection rates among black women ten to fifteen years earlier when the epidemic was raging out of control...

"The AIDS community of funders, researches, activists...had a problem...some activists [in the early 90's] decided to market the epidemic for Middle America... 'There was definitely an effort to make AIDS more compelling to the Black community' [Phil Wilson] recalled, 'and that process entailed a de-gaying of the epidemic'..."

Keith Boykin
From Chapter Five
"When a Disease Becomes an Excuse"

"Governor McGreeley [of New Jersey]'s wife must have been going through a full range of emotions the day she stood next to her husband at his press conference...McGreeley also admitted to 'an adult consensual affair with another man' which he said 'violates my bonds of matrimony'. That was the real bombshell...dropped that day...By announcing his affair with another man, Governor McGreeley...proved that the down low is not just a black thing...We should have known that black men were not the only ones who cheated on their wives. Or had we bought into the myth of black male identity that constructs black manhood solely as pathology?
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