Facing Challenges

  • Xinling Li


This chapter investigates some of the key problems that have affected black gay men, especially HIV/AIDS and “the down low” phenomenon. First discussed is how the HIV/AIDS pandemic had caused tremendous anxiety and moral panic among men in general by “outing” those who lived a double life and were otherwise considered “straight”. This leads to a psychoanalysis of men living “on the down low” that further reveals the self-destructive nature of heterosexual masculinity and women’s role in safeguarding straight men’s ownership of masculinity. At the end, the chapter argues that the crux of the matter regarding men reconciling masculinity with homosexuality is to alter their “heterosexual superego” that has been established and reinforced by peer groups, the media and society at large.


gayGay homosexualityHomosexuality queerQueer homophobiaHomophobia sexualitySexuality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bersani, Leo. Homos. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  2. Blumer, Herbert. Symbolic Interactionism—Perspective and Method. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.Google Scholar
  3. Boykin, Keith. Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America. New York: Carroll and Graf, 2005.Google Scholar
  4. Bristow, Joseph. “Being Gay: Politics, Identity, Pleasure.” New Information, Issue 9, 1989: pp. 61–81.Google Scholar
  5. Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” In Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre, by Sue Ellen Case (ed.), 270–282. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  6. Clarkson, Jay. “Contesting Masculinity’s Makeover: Queer Eye, Consumer Masculinity, and ‘Straight Acting’ Gays.” Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2005: pp. 235–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2004.Google Scholar
  8. de Beauvoir, Simone. “Introduction to the Second Sex.” In New French Feminisms, by Elaine Marks, and Isabelle de Courtivron (ed.), 41–56. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  9. ———. The Second Sex (Translated and Edited by H.M. Parshley; Introduction to the Vintage edition by Deirdre Bair). New York: Vintage Books, 1972.Google Scholar
  10. Dean, Terrance. Hiding in Hip Hop. New York: Atria Paperback, 2008.Google Scholar
  11. Dowsett, G.W. “I’ll Show You Mine, if You’ll Show Me Yours: Gay Men, Masculinity Research, Men’s Studies, and Sex.” Theory and Society, Vol. 22, No. 5, Special Issue: Masculinities, 1993: pp. 697–709.Google Scholar
  12. Eribon, D. Insult and the Making of the Gay Self (Translated by Michael Lucey). Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Freud, Sigmund. Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Other Writings (Translated by John Reddick with an Introduction by Mark Edmundson). London: Penguin Classics, 2003.Google Scholar
  14. ———. Civilisation and Its Discontents. London: Penguin Books, 2002.Google Scholar
  15. ———. On Murder, Mourning and Melancholia. London: Penguin Classic, 2005.Google Scholar
  16. Goldenberg, Jamie L., Tom Pyszczynski, Shannon K. McCoy, Jeff Greenberg, and Sheldon Solomon. “Death, Sex, Love, and Neuroticism: Why Is Sex Such a Problem?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 77, No. 6, 1999: pp. 1173–1187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Green, Adam Isaiah. “On the Horn of a Dilemma: Institutional Dimensions of the Sexual Career in a Sample of Middle-Class, Urban, Black, Gay Men.” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 37, No. 5, 2007: pp. 753–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Greenberg, David F. The Construction of Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  19. Harper, Phillip Brian. Are We Not Men? Masculine Anxiety and the Problem of African-American Identity. New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  20. hooks, bell. We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity. New York: Routledge, 2004.Google Scholar
  21. Jenkins, Richard. Social Identity. New York: Routledge, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lemon, Jennifer. “Masculinity in Crisis.” Agenda, No. 24, Monitoring the Changes, 1995: pp. 61–71.Google Scholar
  23. Li, Xinling. Disjunctures within Conventional Knowledge of Black Male Homosexual Identity in Contemporary South Africa. Rhodes University Unpublished Thesis, 2009.Google Scholar
  24. Malebranche, David J. “Bisexually Active Black Men in the United States and HIV: Acknowledging More Than the ‘Down Low’.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 37, 2008: pp. 810–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marable, Manning. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. New York: Penguin Books, 2011.Google Scholar
  26. Mead, George Herbert. Mind, Self and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviourist (Edited by C. Morris). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934.Google Scholar
  27. Pascoe, C.J. Dude You’re a Fag. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  28. Phillips, Layli. “Deconstructing ‘Down Low’ Discourse: The Politics of Sexuality, Gender, Race, AIDS, and Anxiety.” Journal of African American Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2005: pp. 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pleck, Joseph H. “Men’s Power with Women, Other Men, and Society.” In Feminism & Masculinities, by Peter F. Murphy (ed.), 57–68. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  30. Plummer, Kenneth. Sexual Stigma. London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975.Google Scholar
  31. Rasmussen, Mary Lou. “The Problem of Coming Out.” Theory into Practice, Vol. 43, No. 2, Sexual Identities and Schooling, 2004: pp. 144–150.Google Scholar
  32. Rich, Adrienne. “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” Signs, Vol. 5, No. 4, Women: Sex and Sexuality (Summer, 1980), pp. 631–660.Google Scholar
  33. Sandfort, Theo G.M., and Brian Dodge. “‘…And Then There was the Down Low’: Introduction to Black and Latino Male Bisexualities.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 37, 2008: pp. 675–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Simon, William, and John H. Gagnon. Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Sexuality. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction, A Division of Transaction Publishers, 1974.Google Scholar
  35. Stein, Arlene. “Make Room for Daddy: Anxious Masculinity and Emergent Homophobias in Neopatriarchal Politics.” Gender and Society, Vol. 19, No. 5, 2005: pp. 601–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Steinmetz, George. “Bourdieu’s Disavowal of Lacan: Psychanalytic Theory and the Concepts of ‘Habitus’ and ‘Symbolic Capital’.” Constellations Vol. 13, No. 4, 2006: pp. 445–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stockton, Kathryn Bond. Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where ‘Black’ Meets ‘Queer’. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stoltenberg, John. “Toward Gender Justice.” In Feminism & Masculinities, by Peter F. Murphy (ed.), 41–49. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  39. Whiting, Gilman W., and Thabiti Lewis. “On Manliness: Black Masculinity Revisited.” AmeriQuest, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2008: pp. 1–8.Google Scholar
  40. Wolitski, Richard J., Kenneth T. Jones, Jill L. Wasserman, and Jennifer C. Smith. “Self-Identification as ‘Down-Low’ Among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) from 12 US Cities.” AIDS Behaviour, Vol. 10, 2006: pp. 519–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xinling Li
    • 1
  1. 1.ChengduChina

Personalised recommendations