In A Nutshell
Malcolm X needs no introduction. One of the greatest civil rights activists the world has ever known, his work and assassination have been immortalized in book and film. But there’s one section of his life that people tend to skate over. According to eyewitness testimony and hundreds of different sources, Malcolm X was a bisexual who carried on a sustained affair with a white businessman.
The Whole Bushel
Before he became world famous as a leading civil rights activist, Malcolm X (then known as Malcolm Little) led a life best described as “tough.” Left without a dad at an early age, the adolescent Malcolm made money on the streets of Boston by selling drugs, pimping, robbing wealthy households, and gambling. He also had a side line in hustling, picking up wealthy gay men in bars and servicing them for a fee.
Now, it’s not unheard of for poor straight men to make a quick buck as rent boys. But Malcolm X’s involvement seems to have been a little different. Firstly, he liked to boast loudly to whomever would listen that he “serviced queers.” Then there’s the matter of his sustained sexual relationship with a white businessman, not to mention his frequent dalliances with the transvestite Willie Mae. In all, Malcolm X is thought to have spent a decade of his life sleeping almost exclusively with men; usually for money but not always. As Peter Tatchell pointed out in The Guardian, it’s unlikely he could have sustained the practice that long without at least some level of interest.
And interest seems to have always been there in Malcolm’s life. Although there’s no suggestion he slept with men after marrying his wife, old school friends have repeatedly remarked that he used to make local boys jerk him off; boasting if he managed to get them to give him oral sex. Recently, the respected African-American historian Manning Marble repeated the assertion in his hugely scholarly biography of Malcolm X; a book of such incredible erudition that it’s almost impossible to argue with. To sum up then, there seem to be no two ways about this. Malcolm X was almost certainly LGBT. And you know what? That’s something we should celebrate.