Shifty Shades Of Gay
By Steve Swindells
Amongst the many tribes, creeds and nationalities of the so-called ‘black community’ – which is just as heterogeneous as the so-called ‘Gay Community’ – there exists a mysterious, cultural curiosity known as DL.
This is an acronym of Down-low, which is a term pertaining to masculine, black men who like to have sex with men, but who generally pretend to be straight – especially to themselves. They’re often in relationships, or even marriages, with unsuspecting women, who would probably never even imagine that their big, ‘butch’ blokes like cock and ass. After all, gay men are just a bunch of girly men, aren’t they? And there’s no such thing as a gay, black man, right?
HAH! What planet do you, or they, they live on?
There was an American TV series called ‘The DL Chronicles’, which I’ve never seen. I can only hope it’s better than that appallingly awful US show ‘Noah’s Arc’ which, unfortunately, I have seen a couple of episodes of. It features a bunch of stereotypical, black queens swishing around and being…well… queens. A cringe-making, gay-blacksploitation embarrassment, as far as I’m concerned,
My favourite black, gay character on TV is definitely the handsome, masculine, wise and intelligent cop, played by Mathew St Patrick, who’s the boyfriend of the badly-behaved, gay son in the brilliant and much-lauded ‘Six Feet Under’. In the series, he’s most definitely not on the DL. What a great role-model for young, black men who think that they may be gay.
My good friend Monty has been homeless for a while and is sofa-surfing with friends and family in London. He stays with me quite regularly and is mostly a total pleasure to spend time with – unless I happen to trigger his tumultuous temper, which has, unfortunately, happened on a couple of occasions, usually when we’ve had a few drinks, thereby triggering my equally tempestuous temper! Thankfully, these rare explosions end as swiftly as they begin, and we always end-up apologising to each other profusely and giving each other big, conciliatory hugs.
Monty is a thirty year-old, gay, multi-mixed-race (Lebanese/South African/Trinadian/Tunisian), black man who’s about to finish a course in massage therapy. He’s planning to get a job working for one of the major cruise lines in the Caribbean – his tutor has already sent him to an informal ‘open-day’ interview with one of biggest tour operators, who informed her thereafter that they would definitely offer him a job, once he’s qualified, which he will be next month. Monty evidently charmed the pants off them, though not literally, of course. That might have qualified as a corporate-cruise orgy!
Monty is charming, articulate, complex, intelligent, funny, immaculately-dressed and extremely good-looking. And, in case you’re wondering: no, we haven’t and nor will we. He’s not my type – despite his looks – and I’m not his. End of, as the saying goes.
I’ve met Monty’s mother – we took her to GhettoFabulous, London’s biggest and best monthly, ‘urban’, polysexual (but mostly gay-black) club in South London. It’s about the only club I go to these days. Not only is the music – R&B, house and various variants of reggae – fantastic, but the eye-candy count is usually around sixty percent – which is incredibly high – and Monty is certainly in the top-ten percent. He’s as handsome as his mother is beautiful (she’s only forty-eight). She chatted to me as we smoked a joint (made with herbal tobacco, as I gave-up smoking many years ago) on the large, heated, ‘smoking terrace’, and explained that Monty was actually christened Montgomery, after her favourite actor, Montgomery Clift.
‘It’s a shame he turned-out to be so ugly,’ I quipped – Monty’s mum looked momentarily non-plussed – ‘but at least he’s got a sense of humour, that’s why I call him Monty Python!’ Then she roared with laughter – a great big, throaty chuckle – and gave me a hearty high five… then slipped me an E, with a conspiratorial wink. What a naughty mum!
Sometimes, Monty randomly shows me pictures of stunningly beautiful, masculine-looking, muscular, mostly mix-race guys, with their tops off, on his smart-phone. He enjoys clocking my reaction (which is mostly jaw-dropping), I reckon. At first, I assumed that they were perhaps porn stars and/or models (many of them are indeed the latter), but it soon transpires that they are either his ‘exes’; people that he’s recently met – or what us poofs refer to as fuck-buddies. He certainly is a magnet for beautiful, masculine men. Unfortunately, many of them are apparently on the DL.
A couple of months ago, when he started his Level Two course (he’s now on Level Three), he’d told me that there were several ‘hotties’ studying massage as well. One in particular had caught his eye – and, apparently, vice-versa: ‘Apart from being stunning-looking, with an awesome, muscular physique,’ Monty had told me, ‘he’s black, but with huge BLUE eyes!’
“You’re kidding!’ I’d responded, ‘Are you sure they’re not tinted contact lenses?’
‘Deff not,’ said Monty, ‘he’s mixed-race: Greek-African, and he’s called – are you ready? – Apollo. He makes sure that he sits beside me all the time in class and is always volunteering to massage me, and yesterday, he walked me to Baker Street Station, even though his station is Marylebone Overground. And, he also asked for my number.’
‘Hmm, ‘I said, stroking my goatee in an ironic fashion, ‘I suspect that your gaydar monitor is off the scale!’ Monty nodded and smiled; then I added: ‘Greek-African – that’s highly unusual – although, strangely enough, I had a boyfriend who boasted exactly the same exotic, mix-race parentage, in the 80s – he didn’t have blue eyes, but he rejoiced in the name Achilles, I kid you not, and I used to refer to him as a Bleek.’
‘I’ll bet he was a bit of a heel,’ quipped Monty, as his phone pinged, indicating that he’d received a text ‘but why Bleek?’
‘Black-Greek, of course, just like Blindian is Black-Indian,’ I said, then added, ‘I was with Achilles for over two years, but he wasn’t a heel per-se, perhaps more of a high heel!
‘Duh… obvs! That’s brilliant, I’ll ask Apollo if anyone has ever referred to him as Bleek at college tomorrow,’ said Monty, chuckling, then suddenly gasped and pulled an exaggerated jaw-drop face, looked at me with a broad grin, handed me the phone and said: ‘You are so not going to believe this – I wonder if you can guess who it is…’
I have to confess that my eyes popped out of my head as I clocked the photo of an incredibly beautiful, muscular body (the head was deliberately out-of-shot, a typical DL trait) – obviously taken in a gym – with an impressive hard-on poking into a strategically-placed, white towel, on which he’d scrawled with a large felt-tip pen: Go Obama!
Monty carried on grinning, as a psychic thought popped into my head: ‘OMG, it’s Bleek, the godlike Apollo, isn’t it?’
‘It sure as hell is,’ he replied, his head now shaking in an I don’t believe it fashion, ‘and he’s invited me over to his place in Hampstead on Friday!’
He then showed me a picture on his phone of yet another stunning and muscular (this time much-tattooed), mixed-race man who was posing topless with a combat rifle, wearing camouflage fatigues, in what looked suspiciously like Afganistan.
‘Bloody hell – who the fuck’s this bloke, giving it loads?’ I asked, handing him back his phone, wondering if I might run out of exclamatory words or phrases – other than ‘Wow!’ – in reaction to this procession of beauties that were waltzing before my eyes like actors in an imagined play, featuring the most beautiful, masculine, black men in the known universe.
‘Oh, that’s Paolo,’ said Monty nonchalantly, now texting away again on his phone, ‘he’s a Blatino, with Brazilian parents’
A thought occurred to me that Brazil is one of the few genuinely multi-racial, ‘rainbow nations’ on this earth, along with South Africa, The US, Cuba, Canada (just) and The UK. Then I asked: ‘And who might this stunning-looking man be to you?’
‘Oh, Paolo is, or was, a fuck buddy, he’s in the army and is also a model’ he said, tapping away on his phone from the chill zone in my living area; ‘but he lied to me.’
‘How so?’ I asked through the open door of my studio, where I was multi-tasking away, checking my emails and advancing various, creative endeavors. ‘So, that pic was taken in Afganistan – and how did he lie to you?’
‘Yes, he was in Helmand province for a six-month tour of duty – and he still has his fantastic legs.’
‘Dark,’ I commented drily, whilst uploading one of my latest mixes on Garage Band * subliminal commercial break alert* a cool collaboration with a soulfully talented Israeli girl called Hadas Balas, whom I’d met and jammed with – instant rapport – at a house-warming party for my new neighbour Doctor Clive – who has his own circus, as you do, and is also a real doctor – earlier this year *commercial ends*.
‘Quite,’ said Monty in his usual sprightly fashion, then continued: ’ Well, we’d been fucking for a while – and he really is a fantastic shag – but he’s on the DL. He’s not even out to his friends – even the army guys who he has sex with… and there are several – he’s shown me pics’.’
‘Damn…’ I said (inadvertently crashing my MAC by being impatient – and through having way too many windows and tabs open. Firefox is usually the main culprit), ‘that’s pathetic!’
‘It is a bit,’ said Monty, with a kind-of rueful disdain, then added:’ Anyways, I kind of gave him an ultimatum. Either he came out to his friends, colleagues and family, or he wasn’t gonna get any more of my ass! So he promised me he’d start by telling his parents. I was pleased, and naively thought we might be heading into a genuine relationship as a result, especially as he’d finished with his long-term girlfriend, ostensibly to be with me. But I was wrong. On the night that he’d supposedly confessed all to his parents, in Surbiton, I was supposed to go over to his place in Kilburn, after his return. But he was suddenly unavailable. When I texted him to ask why, he said that he was hanging out with his army mates and ‘chilling’.
‘That was somewhat insensitive.’ I suggested.
‘Indeed it was,’ agreed Monty; ‘he insisted, however, that he’d told his parents. But my instinct, however, told me otherwise. So I went over to his place at One in the morning and banged on his door until he opened it – looking fabulous as ever in a pair of running shorts. I dismissed all thoughts of lust, and, when we went inside, I accused him of lying just so that he could continue to have sex with me. He tried to deny it, but his eyes told me the truth, and I promptly left.’
‘That’s really sad,’ I said, as my MAC stuttered back into life, ‘that’s DL for you. Perhaps it should stand for damn lies. Looks like he wanted to have his cakes – and to eat them too!’
‘You know what I’m saying?’ Said Monty, slightly plaintively. His phone pinged again and his eyes widened as he read the text: ‘You’re not going to believe this…’
‘Paolo’s asked you to marry him?’ I suggested, jokingly.
‘Nope, but Apollo the Bleek has asked me over right now, says he’s got a bottle of voddy and some nice skunk. I’m gagging!’
‘Just as well you’ve got the day off tomorrow then.’ I said drily.
The next day, Monty rolled-in at around 2pm and slumped onto my chill-zone-come-guest-bed in the living area. ‘God! I’m hungover!’ He moaned, rolling his eyes.
‘So… what happened?’ I asked.
‘He got me really drunk and vaguely seduced me, in a clumsy sort of way, then laid-back and let me do all the work!
‘Typical behaviour of a DL!’ I said, before Monty promptly fell asleep.
A few days later, he came ‘round after college and exclaimed:’ The Bleek is, as of now, excommunicated!’
Why, what happened?’
‘All the guys were in the showers (the course took place in an up-market health club in Marylebone) after a work-out, and he made that typical oh-so-straight, alleged joke, you know: be careful you don’t drop the soap in the shower guys! Everyone laughed, except me; I was furious with him. It’s a matter of principal, you can’t be hypocritical like that, it makes me fuckin’ sick! ‘
‘Did you express your disgust in front of everyone?’ I asked.
‘Nearly… I had to bite my lip to stop myself, but nah, I told him when he tried to walk me to the station, and stated in no uncertain terms that I don’t live a lie, and I don’t wanna be friends with people who do, and walked off.’
‘Good on ya!’ I said, giving him a hug, then simply said: ‘respect!’
More recently, during his Level Three course, Monty reported a frisson of flirtation with a great big black hunk, a semi-pro rugby player called Mack, who was showing interest in being his ‘new best friend’. Monty told me that Mack was an awesome figure of a man, and that the gaydar needles were seemingly flickering on the dials as well. Or was he fooling himself?
The funny thing was that Bleek was also on the course – and was apparently watching Monty and Mack like a hawk.
‘Did you say ‘hi’ to Bleek?’ I asked Monty.
‘Yeah – of course,’ he replied, ‘But, I was just polite and kept my distance. Then Mack asked me to be his partner in a stretching session in the gym and… well, I do believe that there was a level of tumescence in his shorts.’
I laughed and said: ‘All hail the latest admirer!’
A few days later, we were having dinner (my new signature dish of salmon fillets marinated in lemon, honey, coriander, soy sauce and sesame seeds then char-grilled with courgettes, red onion and baby corn) and Monty received a text. He turned to me with a serious jaw-drop look and passed me his phone. The pic’ was of a stunningly beautiful, black body – but with no head (no surprise there then). The guy had a huge hard-on poking through a white towel in what was obviously a gym. ‘Is this history repeating itself,’ I asked Monty. ‘ who the fuck is it this time? Mack?’
‘You got it babe.’ Replied Monty, with his winning smile.
The next day, after college, Monty reported back to me that he’d informed (a no-doubt slightly shocked) Mack that he simply shouldn’t send pictures like that, as nothing was going to happen; but that it was cool to be friends. Mack apparently took this in stride, was not freaked-out, and was even more indulgent towards Monty as the day carried on – with Bleek observing their every move. I suggested to Monty that this might be… well, perhaps less of a DL situation than usual. Was my sixth sense smelling a burgeoning relationship – or just willing it to happen?
Mack is totally Monty’s type. He loves those big, masculine, muscular guys, especially if they’re intelligent and happily gay… and not on the DL.
Steve Swindells © 2013. All rights reserved