Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

This project would not have happened without the generosity of a number of people, both within and outside the academy. I am especially thankful to my family, given and chosen, who have encouraged me and perhaps most importantly kept me grounded throughout this process. ...

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Introduction: Transpositions

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pp. 1-36

On April 16, 2004, Oprah Winfrey began her episode “A Secret Sex World: Living on the ‘Down Low’ ” with an unusual announcement: “I’m an African American woman.” Her studio audience responded with laughter. Realizing, perhaps, that her show opener had not elicited the intended reaction, ...

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1. Down-Low Genealogies

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pp. 37-66

Commissioned and then later dropped by the cable channel, LOGO, one of three stations catering to queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender audiences, Abigail Child’s documentary, On the Downlow (2007), conforms to the genre of exposé: “There’s a secret within the African American community,” the tagline begins. ...

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2. Trapped in the Epistemological Closet

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pp. 67-93

Robert Sylvester Kelly, known to his listeners simply as R. Kelly, is a recurrent figure in popular representations of the down low as of 1996 with the release of his R&B hit “Down Low (Nobody Has to Know),” which detailed the consequences of heterosexual indiscretion, ...

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3. Black Sexual Syncretism

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pp. 94-120

The frequent pairing of the down low and the black church in popular culture is not simply another titillating, if seemingly banal, coupling of the secular and the sacred. Nor would it be analytically sufficient to think of the down low and the black church as two opposing poles of black sexual morality. ...

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4. Rumor Has It

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pp. 121-146

In a 2007 interview for Vibe magazine, then 24-year-old R&B singer and songwriter Shaffer Chimere Smith, better known to his fans as Ne-Yo, replied to the various rumors circulating about his sexuality. “This is the way I look at it now,” Smith explained. “For one, you’re nobody ’til they think you’re gay—that’s the truth of the business. ...

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Epilogue: Down-Low Diasporas

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pp. 147-154

In an editorial published in the Washington Post, columnist Courtland Milloy recommended the following: “I propose a TV public service announcement that goes something like this: You see a man holding a gun to a woman’s head and pulling the trigger while professing his love for her. ...

Notes

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pp. 155-184

Index

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pp. 185-200

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About the Author

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C. Riley Snorton is assistant professor of communication studies at Northwestern University.