Chaos, Conflict and Confusion: Cross-Cutting Issues of Whiteness in Visual Representations of the Brother on the Downlow

  • Alphonso Grant
Keywords: DL Identity, Black Visual Culture, Black masculinity and sexuality, Whiteness


Broadly this paper builds on the discourse surrounding destabilizing Whiteness in visual representation of the brother on the down low (DL). The term “DL”, which is short for on the down-low, is a common way to refer to men of color who live their everyday lives as heterosexuals, are often married to women, yet also engage in discreet homosexual relationships (Scott, 2010). Guided by the question: In what ways are brothers on the down low viewed in Black visual culture? Specifically, this paper is a literature review on the intersection of the emasculation of Black men and Black masculinity and discusses the sustained interaction of these two concepts within contemporary politics of identity, masculinity, and sexuality; with a synopsis of analyses of the literature presented through a lens of my lived experiences and so it is framed as such. This paper also focuses on categorization and institutionalization of Black men in visual culture. Then there is review a brief history of some knowledge and power plays of White hegemonic United States (US) culture and how Black men are structured and regulated by means of these social dynamics. This leads me to provide insights into these things by investigating them and looking closely at their social constructs. Ultimately, I explore and discuss the ways in which Black male sexuality and masculinity, broadly, and Black DL identity, specifically, is visually represented in literature in relationship to Whiteness.