According to a study published in the Journal of Bisexuality, "[t]he Down Low is a lifestyle predominately practiced by young, urban Black men who have sex with other men and women, yet do not identify as gay or bisexual." In this context, "being on the Down Low" is more than just men having sex with men in secret, or a variant of closeted homosexuality or bisexuality — it is a sexual identity that is, at least partly, defined by its "cult of masculinity" and its rejection of what is perceived as white culture (including white LGBT culture) and terms.Rejecting a gay culture they perceive as white and effeminate, many black men have settled on a new identity, with its own vocabulary and customs and its own name: Down Low.
To them, as to many blacks, that equates to being inherently masculine.In his book Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America, Keith Boykin states that secret homosexual relations are not unique to African American men, and in fact occur in many societies and among all races.Although this study did not find that nondisclosing MSM were at higher risk for HIV infection than MSM who are more open about their sexuality (1—3), the data suggest that a substantial proportion of nondisclosers are infected with HIV and other STDs and are at high risk for transmitting these infections to their male and female sex partners.The finding that more than one in three nondisclosers reported having recent female sex partners suggests that nondisclosing MSM might have an important role in HIV/STD transmission to women.Men who have sex with men and women are a "significant bridge for HIV to women," a CDC study suggested.
The CDC's Young Men's Survey shows that about one in 10 men reporting sex with men also have sex with women.His study examines DL discourses closely, while also exploring how DL men handle masculinity and sexuality.In 2008 writer Terrance Dean published his memoir: Hiding in Hip-Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment industry—from Music to Hollywood where he discusses his own experience being down-low in the industry as well as others in the industry who are also down-low.And more than one in four of these bisexual men have unsafe sex with both kinds of partners."Men who also have sex with women have similar levels of HIV and STDs [as exclusively homosexual men] and higher levels of many risky behaviors,"."This issue continues to be stigmatized and connected to HIV/AIDS research, particularly how it connects to risky sexual practices influencing its transmission to partners, controversies regarding social awareness and acceptance of Black male sexuality, as well as disclosure or nondisclosure of those practices and behaviors." The CDC report that analyzes the above-mentioned survey states that "many men who have sex with men (MSM), especially young and minority MSM, do not disclose their sexual orientation" in order to avoid "social isolation, discrimination, or verbal or physical abuse".