Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America

Keith Boykin, Author, E. Lynn Harris, Foreword by , foreword by E. Lynn Harris. Carroll & Graf $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1434-6

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.)

Reviewed on: 01/24/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
Paperback - 311 pages - 978-0-7867-1704-0
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