Civil Rights Leader to Discuss Book on Media Portrayal of Gay Black Men, Monday, November 28, 2006

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – In his new work Beyond the Down Low: Sex and Denial in Black America, former Clinton White House official Keith Boykin examines the "down-low" (DL) experience of heterosexual men having sex with other men, and Boykin directly responds to the 2004 J.L. King best-seller On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of Straight Black Men Who Sleep With Men. At Vassar, on Monday, November 28, at 5:00 p.m., in the Sanders Classroom auditorium, Boykin will discuss why he was compelled to rebut King, as well as what the media response to King's book says about the larger press coverage of black men. This program is free and open to the public.

The Washington Post wrote about Boykin's Beyond the Down Low, "…it is impossible to come away from this book without a greater appreciation for the humanity of black men generally, and for those who – because of shame, fear and stigma – act in unethical ways that may have grave consequences for their partners. This is a crucial step toward breaking the silences and false expectations about sexuality and race."

According to Boykin, J.L. King's assessment of down-low behaviors are both incorrect and misleading, and Beyond the Down Low goes on to dispute the claim that the increase in HIV among African-American women is mainly the result of down-low activity among African-American men. King's book prompted wide attention, including a cover story in the New York Times magazine and an Oprah Winfrey tv segment.

Keith Boykin was Special Assistant to the President and Director of Specialty Media in the first Clinton Administration, and he organized the first meeting between gay and lesbian leaders and a U.S. president. He went on to write the books One More River to Cross (1997), and Respecting the Soul: Daily Reflections for Black Lesbians and Gays (1999), and is a syndicated columnist for the New York Blade, Washington Blade, Houston Voice, and other publications.

A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Boykin is president of the board of the National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization that combats racism and homophobia. He has also written for the Village Voice, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Petersburg Times, and the magazines The Advocate, Black Issues Book Review, and Crisis He appeared on the 2004 Showtime television series American Candidate, and has been interviewed by VH1, BET, CNN, and Fox News.

Boykin's talk at Vassar is sponsored by Blegen House, the ALANA Center, the programs in Africana Studies and Women's Studies, and the student group Intersextions. For more information, please contact John Schoonbeck, assistant director of campus life, at (845) 437-3521. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Campus Activities, at (845) 437-5370.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, November 22, 2005