Michael tried to project an image of heterosexuality but failed abysmally. He married twice and danced and sang with some of the sexiest women in the world in his videos — Ola Ray, Iman, Naomi Campbell. But Michael never fooled me and my buddies. We always considered him gay.
I was at a college sophomore in 1983 when his album “Thriller” was rocketing up the charts. I remember going to a party the night the video premiered. The music and dancing stopped so everyone could gather around the television to watch.
It was a masterpiece. The music was catchy. The choreography was tight. But the jokes were flying at the party. There was no way anyone believed Michael was really into fine-ass Ola Ray in those skin-tight pedal pushers and “fuck-me” pumps.
“I’m not like other guys,” Michael said to Ola at one point in the video.
The party erupted in derisive laughter. “No Michael, you are not like the other guys! You’re more like the other girls!” I remember one guy shouting above the laughs.
Sure it was cruel. Now that I am a down-low brother I can sympathize with men who hide their sexual orientation to be accepted by society. And Michael definitely had his reasons.
The 80’s was a decade when adrogyny, at least among music artists, became the rage. Prince pranced around in high-heel boots, eyeliner and his ass cheeks exposed to the world. And Boy George’s makeup was flawless.
But if Michael had come out of the closet then his record sales might have plummeted. Because most of his fan base in the 1980s became young white adults. Young black folks my age were moving into hip-hop, a decidedly more masculine musical style. Michael Jackson’s airy pop just couldn’t compete against the driving beat and social messages of rappers such as Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, LL Cool J and later Public Enemy.
Remember LL Cool J’s rap from “Rock the Bells.” LL openly ridiculed Prince, Michael Jackson and that whole “Is-he-gay-or-straight?” image they were pushing. Which come to think of it is really ironic considering there are now persistent rulers LL swings with men and women.
“So all you jerry-curl suckers wearin’ high-heel boots. Like ballerinas, what I mean is you’re a fruit-loop troop…Do you like Michael Jackson, we like Cool J.”
Still, I have to empathize with Michael’s plight. His family life must have been torture. His father Joe Jackson allegedly ridiculed him about his appearance. I’m sure he put Michael Jackson down about his perceived sexuality as well.
His brothers weren’t much better, although they owed their mansions to Michael. Jermaine Jackson in 2006 said his brothers thought Michael was gay because he wasn’t bedding all those groupies who flocked to the Jackson 5’s hotel rooms after concerts. “We used to say quietly that we couldn’t have a gay brother,” Jermaine told a reporter.
Yeah, Michael wasn’t fooling anyone. Not even family. With the plastic surgery, make-up and wigs his looks became more and more feminine as the 80’s ended and 90’s began. His voice got higher. When he married Lisa Marie Presley and kissed her on national television I cringed. It just didn’t look natural. It looked like like a jaded publicity stunt.
I think one of the saddest things about Michael was his self delusion. Did he really think he was fooling anybody?
Now news on his sexuality is starting to surface. Biographer Ian Halperin has interviewed some of Michael’s lovers. According to Halperin, Michael liked younger men but did not molest children. His lovers included a waiter, aspiring actor and construction worker. Michael would even dress in disguise (as a woman — not a stretch for Michael!) to see his lovers and was sneaking men into his rooms almost up to his death, Halperin said.
To read more from Halperin go to this link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196009/Im-better-dead-Im-How-Michael-Jackson-predicted-death-months-ago.html
Would Michael have been more happy and at peace if he had come out of the closet? I would like to think he probably would have but he would have been far less wealthy and not the cultural icon he became. I know many brothers who like Michael obscure their sexuality to maintain a public personna and a more affluent, comfortable lifestyle.
Is it worth it? I guess each of us has to answer that question for himself.