We’ve all heard the claims about Malcolm X sleeping with both men and women (he even married and had children with one!). And with the release of of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention — from the late Manning Marable, a biographer of the activist — we get to relive them! (His daughters aren’t so happy about it.) But c’mon, who can forget our favorite Malcolm X tale? The one where he talks about getting dudes off for some scratch.
Yet Perry’s book documents Malcolm X’s many gay experiences. 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.
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.
Sadly, there were no Hookie Awards in the mid-20th century, because I’m pretty sure Malcolm X would’ve taken home the Mr. International Escort title. He traveled to The Africa even!