Alina's Reviews > On The Up And Up: A Survival Guide for Women Living with Men on the Down Low

On The Up And Up by Brenda Stone Browder
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Mar 15, 2012

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Out of Hiding - A Woman's Perspective
By Alina Oswald
Interview with Author originally published in A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine.

With all the recent media attention, we may think that we know all about life on the Down Low. The truth is that we barely heard half of the story. To hear the other half-the woman's side of the story-reading Brenda Stone Browder's book, On the Up and Up-A Survival Guide for Women Living with Men on the Down Low comes in handy.
"I am first of all a child of God and all I do and say gives honor to God," Brenda Stone Browder says when we talk on the phone. She is also an educator, lay speaker, and the ex-wife of J.L. King (author of bestseller On the Down Low).
The term, Down Low (meaning "in hiding"), refers to African American men who are living a secret gay lifestyle. Although the term is used mostly in the African American community, the practice is not.
As Browder explains in detail in her book, men on the Down Low are usually attracted to naÔve women who lack self-esteem because these women can easily become their "cover girls" who unknowingly help them cover up their DL behavior.
And Brenda Stone Browder knows the "cover girl" type; she used to be one... but not anymore. Now, up from her DL relationship, she urges women who find themselves in similar situations to learn to love and respect themselves first, and to put God first. "Everything else will follow," she assures me.
And if they need help and support, Brenda Stone Browder is there for them, through workshops and seminars and through her book to help women understand that their partners' DL behavior is not their fault, to help them regain their confidence and realize that not every man is on the Down Low and that they are worthy of unconditional love with the right person.
Topics of discussion in Brenda Browder's seminars cover a multitude of topics:
- The DL lifestyle topic teaches women how not to let their partner's DL lifestyle control their life, but to use it as a learning experience. [Related online resources can be found at www.brendabrowder.com or www.straightspousenetwork.com.]
- The safe sex topic urges women to negotiate condoms in their relationships. Too many times, especially when in a long-term relationship where has never been any apparent reason to practice safe sex, bringing up topics like condoms or getting tested is not that simple. That's where Brenda Stone Browder's book-as much as J.L. King's books-can help, providing an avenue for people to be able to have a safe-sex dialog and not be too uncomfortable about it. Those interested to learn more can check out "A Conversation of Reconciliation," a tour through which the two authors come together to share their own experiences of the Down Low phenomenon and talk about safe sex and HIV/AIDS prevention. [More details on www.brendabrowder.com]
- The prevention topic (as a key role in defeating HIV/AIDS or any illness or disease) interests Browder in particular. "[AIDS] doesn't have to be a part of your life," she comments. "[Young people in particular] have to understand that AIDS makes their life difficult when it doesn't have to be. All it takes [to avoid getting infected] is a little responsibility."
- The role of churches in fighting the AIDS pandemic as go-to places where people living with HIV/AIDS should find help and support.
Browder urges churches to become partners and educate their communities to embrace the AIDS community. "I feel that churches should open up the dialog because [AIDS] is not gonna go away just by ignoring it. We need to be a part of that prevention and care."
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