November 6, 2009
Civil rights leader Malcolm X's bisexual past caused a bit of
controversy as Britain celebrated its national black history month in
October and reporters outed him as a bi man.
The slain activist's sexuality was already revealed nearly two
decades ago already in an acclaimed biography by Bruce Perry:
"Malcolm The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America."
A few black activists were outraged recently by Malcolm X's name
appearing on lists of GLBT black leaders. Also, Nation of Islam
leaders were upset about the allegations, even though it was clear
that his bisexual experiences occurred well before he joined their religion.
The history in Perry's book came from interviews with close boyhood friends.
"A schoolmate, Bob Bebee, recalls the day they stumbled on a local
boy jerking off. Malcolm, Bebee recalled, ordered the youth to
masturbate him, and subsequently boasted he had given him oral sex.
Later, from the age of 20, Malcolm 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."
Journalist Peter Tatchell, of the UK Guardian said that Malcolm X
"engaged in a myriad of gay, sexual relationships and was bisexual."
He also wrote that several black activists have tried to cover up the
gay history of this leader.
School buddy, Bob Bebee, told biographers about his own liaisons with
a young Malcolm, and how he liked oral sex with other men and had a
tumultuous relationship with his wife, Betty.
Two other friends of Malcolm's claimed he bragged about "servicing
queers" to make a few extra bucks. According to a longtime friend,
Malcolm was paid to service a well-known socialite, but not all of
his same-sex experiences were motivated by money.
According to Perry: "His male-to-male encounters, which rendered it
unnecessary for him to compete for women, afforded him an opportunity
for sexual release without the attendant risk of dependence on women."
Malcolm X's famous saying "By any means necessary" may be more real
than anyone ever imagined about this charismatic leader.