When JL King sat on Oprah’s couch and pretended as if he was doing all of us women a favor by ‘exposing’ the undercover world of men lusting and loving other men, he started a dialogue that could possibly be considered positive or self-serving. For starters, the phenomenon of men having sex with other men on the so-called ‘down low’ is nothing new. Those of you who are scratching your heads at the term ‘down low,’ the new meaning of ‘down low,’ and not the true heterosexual definition that R. Kelly made famous with Ronald Isley in song; is simply homosexual or bisexual men sleeping with the same sex but doing so ‘in the closest.’ Some of these men would have you believe that they are not gay/homo/bi/ sexual. They just like to get down with men on occasion. Then go back home to girlfriends, wives, significant others and the such. These men believe that just because they love to indulge in jump offs with men, that that does not mean they are gay.
It is not my opinion to tell other folks how to live their lives. However, this so-called ‘down low’ ridiculousness has got to be retired. It is so deceitful and manipulative. And add to that destructive and dangerous.
Hence, the true problem and solution to the question of why men loving men like to live under the cloak of secrecy is only magnified when the arena playing field is as wide and lucrative as the entertainment business. In his not quite tell-all, author Terrance Dean takes us into his world…the world of what you see is more than likely what you’d never expect. “Hiding In Hip Hop” is a truthful window into what it is like to be gay and in ‘deep cover’ within Hollywood and the music industry. I personally found Terrance’s own journey to become confident and secure in his sexuality a universal theme that runs throughout the book. What I would have really appreciated was more of the self-discovery process that Terrance subscribed to instead of trying to decipher if “Bruce” is Bill Cosby or not. Which I doubt.
Which brings me to another important issue that I feel compelled to address. “Hiding In Hip Hop”was marketed as a name dropping tell-all, who’s who of the entertainment industry’s closeted or denial driven gay community. This is not the case. You will find names. But the names are fictitious. The characters behind the names are not. Terrance goes to great lengths to give us bus loads of clues as to who is ‘suspect.’ But eventually, the fictitious names and the puzzle pieces that fit but don’t fit begins to wear thin. There comes a point when it becomes boring. Now I don’t believe in ‘outing’ nor do I approve of others who do so. I am not implying either that it would have been okay for Terrance Dean to ‘out’ his friends, business associates and paramours. But in this era where the media is constantly begging to be fed, to have a titillating book on shelves, claiming that there is meat where there truly isn’t, is to compromise an author’s integrity. Unless the primary goal is to sell, sell, sell. I mean, let’s face it. Karrine Stephens set a whole new bar.
I want to get into more about this so-called ‘down low’ cultural. I will do so in an upcoming commentary. But, you want to know if “Hiding In Hip Hop” is any good, right? I’ll give you this: If you can keep yourself from falling in the trap of trying to figure out every famously in the closet gay man that you come across in your reading, then I have to give Terrance Dean’s book a B+.
If you are looking for the dirt and dirty low down, and you love to sit for hours working on The New York Times crossword puzzles, I’ll give “Hiding In Hip Hop” an A+.