THE LOWDOWN ON THE DOWNLOW

More than a year after Oprah Winfrey brought wide attention to the idea of married, supposedly straight, black men sleeping with other men, cable's BET is exploring the subject in more detail. BET Executive Vice President Nina Henderson Moore said producers brought the concept of "The Down Low Exposed" to the network several months ago. "We loved their style and approach," Moore said about the special, which airs tomorrow night at 10. "We wanted to make sure they would be able to bring something that took the discussion one step further. You want to be careful about a subject that was talked about so much."

And the subject was certainly talked about.

Winfrey brought the subject of married men who secretly sleep with men to the mainstream in April 2004 when she featured author J.L. King on her show. King, who is an executive producer on the BET special, wrote "On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of 'Straight' Black Men Who Sleep With Men."

Moore said the BET special takes the discussion beyond merely the shock aspects of the subject.

"We do take a step back into it, the 'Oh my gosh, there's this down low thing," Moore said. "But we also try to understand what it looks like, what it feels like. It is a bit of an exposé. There is a whole subculture going on here."

The show premieres tomorrow and will air again Friday at 10 p.m. Because of the TV-MA rating, BET programmers want to make sure it airs late enough in the night to limit youngsters watching.

To explain the topic, producers talk to King, to filmmaker Bill Duke and to author Terry McMillan, whose husband later revealed he was on the down low.

McMillan, who also slammed her husband in an interview with Winfrey, called the men who carry on these secret lives "cowards." She also says the interview is her last on the subject of her husband, Jonathan Plummer.

"I think what you [BET] are doing should be applauded, because I think more than anything there are women out there that are victims," McMillan said. "And I think we need to hold men accountable for their actions."

Moore wants the special to keep people talking about the subject.

"I hope that it continues to get people to recognize there's a lifestyle out here," she said. "I hope it gets women, and men, frankly to be more empowered and confident to make sure they are not at risk, and really that they're communicating with the partners they're intimate with.

"It's important we spur the conversation," she added, "and that we get people to continue to talk. It has to be there. It's not like this stuff is going away." SOURCE

 

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