Radical/Progressive Queer News and Commentary
from Memphis, Tennessee
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Did Homophobia Kill Michael Jackson?
Of the many things that contributed to Michael Jackson's death (fame, drugs, exhaustion, money, debt, etc.) one has not been getting any media attention, in fact it is not even being discussed--homophobia.
It is a not-so-secret secret that Michael Jackson was gay. It is an unspoken fact that probably only his parents continue to deny. In his book "Unmasked: The Final years of Michael Jackson" Ian Halperin argues that Jackson was the victim of greed, and handlers that pushed him to perform 50 concerts in London to help keep him out of bankruptcy. But he also spills the beans about Jackson's secret gay relationships:
"It is clear to me that Michael was homosexual and that his taste was for young men, albeit not as young as Jordan Chandler or Gavin Arvizo.
In the course of my investigations, I spoke to two of his gay lovers, one a Hollywood waiter, the other an aspiring actor. The waiter had remained friends, perhaps more, with the singer until his death last week. He had served Jackson at a restaurant, Jackson made his interest plain and the two slept together the following night. According to the waiter, Jackson fell in love.
The actor, who has been given solid but uninspiring film parts, saw Jackson in the middle of 2007. He told me they had spent nearly every night together during their affair – an easy claim to make, you might think. But this lover produced corroboration in the form of photographs of the two of them together, and a witness.
Other witnesses speak of strings of young men visiting his house at all hours, even in the period of his decline. Some stayed overnight.
When Jackson lived in Las Vegas, one of his closest aides told how he would sneak off to a ‘grungy, rat-infested’ motel – often dressed as a woman to disguise his identity – to meet a male construction worker he had fallen in love with.
Jackson was acquitted in the Arvizo case, dramatically so, but the effect on his mental state was ruinous. Sources close to him suggest he was close to complete nervous breakdown."
It may be too simplistic to say that homophobia alone killed Michael Jackson, but let me lay out a theory. Jackson lived a life in the closet. From a young age, he was victimized by racism and a father who beat him. He grew up black in a racist, anti-gay society, and gay in a homophobic black culture. He did not love or accept himself as gay or black. As he tried to change his physical appearance through damaging plastic surgery, he tried to cover up his true sexual identity by playing straight. He had to keep his true self secret, from his family and fans. He could not be himself. He found substitutes for a loving gay relationship with fans, female friends, and children (I don't think he was a pederast though). He could NOT be himself.
All of this would drive anybody off the deep end. Add on the pressures of fame, fortune, stardom, and his growing financial problems, and we can see the results...
What IF Michael Jackson had been allowed, or allowed himself, to be an out gay superstar, who could have a healthy loving relationship with another man? Would he still be alive?