Mr. Elmo Was Married Too: Kevin Clash, Black Women and the “Downlow Phenomenon”

By Clarene Mitchell
The recent predatory accusations by an acquaintance of Kevin Clash, the voice of the beloved “Sesame Street” character Elmo, instantly garnered media attention. Major television networks covered the shocking story and it became social media chatter.
However, the media coverage missed a very crucial angle…the danger the ‘down-low’ phenomenon poses to women, specifically to Black women.  Simply defined, the ‘down-low’ phraseology refers to the secretive lifestyle of men who sleep with other men and women, yet do not identify themselves as being gay or bi-s*xual. Within this context, the term generally refers to urban African American men.
According to the Black Women’s Health Imperative, “Nationally, Black women account for 66% of new cases of HIV among women.”  Another compelling reality is that the HIV rate among Black women in some cities in the United States is comparable to the HIV rate in some African countries. These statistics are worsening instead of improving.

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