In April 2004, J.L. King introduced millions of Oprah Show
viewers to the phrase "living on the down low." During the show, J.L. opened up about the dirty little secret
of men who have relationships with women but have sex with other men.
Throughout his entire dating life and eight years of marriage, J.L. said he had sex with multiple male partners. Sometimes, these undercover encounters happened in his own home while his wife slept upstairs.
When Oprah first met J.L., he denied being gay
, but over the past six years, he's changed his story. "I have accepted the fact that I am a black, gay, proud man," he says. "Fear is what kept me on the down low. The fear of losing my family. The fear of losing my children. The fear of hurting my parents. The fear of losing my relationships with cousins and extended family and the church."
After meeting some strong, gay men who gave him a "gay crash course," J.L. says his opinion of homosexuality changed. "[They] taught me and showed me that who you sleep with does not define who you are," he says.
J.L. also wants to make it clear that the term "down low" is used a lot in the black community, but it applies to all ethnic groups. "It's not just a black thing; I want to be real clear about that," he says. "Down low is not a black thing."