Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Malcolm X was Bisexual, Had Affair with White Businessman: Biography

A new biography of black civil rights leader Malcolm X has raised eyebrows by claiming he was bisexual and had a sexual relationship with a white man.

The book, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, was written by Manning Marable, a venerated historian and professor of African-American studies at Columbia University. Sadly, Marable died on April 1,  just three days before the release of the widely acclaimed biography. Barnes & Noble calls his last work “the crowning achievement of Marable’s illustrious career.”

Marable’s stunning revelation (not the first regarding the civil rights leaders’ bisexuality, as we shall soon see) has had an unsettling effect on black Americans, who are a notoriously homophobic bunch. To many African-Americans, especially today’s hyper-masculine hip-hop generation,  Malcolm X is the very embodiment of black manhood. At his funeral, following his tragic 1965 assassination, renowned black actor and civil rights activist Ossie David delivered a eulogy in which he declared “Malcolm was our manhood, our living black manhood.” That their “living black manhood” was, like many black men of today, a “punk” on the down low, will surely leave many African-American men shaking or scratching their heads. Irene Monroe writes: “As a pop-culture hero to young black males of this generation and as the quintessential representation of black manhood of both America’s Black Civil Rights and Black Power eras, a gay Malcolm X will be a hard, if not impossible, sell to the African-American community.”

Let’s not forget the race issue, either. Although he renounced racism before his death, for almost all of his adult life Malcolm X was an unabashed black supremacist who professed the utmost contempt for the white man. “White devils,” he all too often called them. Now Marable teaches us that the world’s foremost champion of black power was in bed– literally– with the “enemy.”

Irene Monroe correctly points out that this isn’t the first revelation of Malcolm X’s bisexuality. In his 1991 biography Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America, Bruce Perry detailed what Monroe called “same-sex dalliances” dating back to his childhood, when he allegedly enjoyed “being masturbated or fellated.” In his 20s, Malcolm Little (as he was then known) had an ongoing sexual relationship with a transvestite named Willie Mae and had sex with gay men for money. According to Perry, he boasted about servicing “queers.”

Monroe warns us not to “misunderstand the art and survivalism” of the  “street hustling culture” that Malcolm X came of age in. Still, this little-known yet highly relevant aspect of his life points to the undeniable conclusion that the most revered symbol of Black America’s militant struggle against the white man was quite literally in bed with him earlier in his life.

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