From the age of 20, Malcolm X had sex with men for money – as hinted at in Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic – and he had at least one sustained sexual liaison with a man. While living in Flint, Michigan, his roommate noticed that instead of sleeping in the room they were sharing, Malcolm sneaked down the hall to spend the night with a gay transvestite named Willie Mae. In New York, two of Malcolm’s friends from Michigan remember bumping into him at the YMCA, where Malcolm bragged he earned money servicing “queers”. Later, Malcolm worked as a butler to a wealthy Boston bachelor, William Paul Lennon. According to Malcolm’s sidekick Malcolm Jarvis, he was paid to sprinkle Lennon with talcum powder and bring him to orgasm. Perry suggests that Malcolm’s gay encounters may not have been entirely financially motivated. His masculine insecurities and ambivalence towards women fit the archetype of a repressed gay man and point to latent homosexuality.

Peter Tatchell _ Writing in the Guardian

I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment.

Malcolm X

This article engages the controversy over whether Malcolm Little, who would become Malcolm X, had same-sexual encounters. A minute sifting of all evidence and claims, augmented by new findings, yields strong indication that Malcolm Little did take part in sex acts with male counterparts. If set in the context of the 1930s and 1940s, these acts position him not as a “homosexual lover,” as has been asserted, but in the pattern of “straight trade” – heterosexual men open to sex with homosexuals – an understanding that in turn affords insights into the black revolutionary’s mature masculinity.

CHRISTOPHER PHELPS

1 thought on “i believe…

  1. “Straight trade”. Heterosexual men who are happy to do sex with other men. Is that what we call bi? Or is it more nuanced? Heteroflexible, Bromosexual, fluid, or just plain greedy? Mature masculinity is perhaps a proper explanation. A man with as few as possible hangups and comfortable in his own skin without labels

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