Michael Jackson and Gay Men

The line between genius and madness, as they say, is razor thin. Witness Beethoven, whose musical brilliance was in inverse proportion to his horrible temper and the abject squalor in which he chose to live. Or Michelangelo, who wore the same clothes for weeks on end. His friends allegedly had to steal them while he slept so they could get the stink out. And then thereâ??s Goya, van Gogh, Polack, Warhol. The list goes on and on.

Of course, not all geniuses are mad. Einstein and Mozart were pretty level-headed. Bill Gates seems boring. But in the art world it doesnâ??t hurt. Sometimes it seems as if art isnâ??t so much an expression of human emotions as it is the artistâ??s way of resolving personal psychological problems while the public looks onâ??and applauds.

Michael Jackson could be the poster boy there.

It seems clear now that Jackson suffered tremendous emotional torture at the hands of his father in his early years. His father drove the Jackson 5 relentlessly, but he seems to have singled out Jackson, denying him a chance to play with other kids, making fun of his large nose, andâ??who knows?â??perhaps even ridiculing the darkness of his skin.

So what happened when Jackson got older? He hung around kids, mutilated his nose, and changed his skin from black to white. To me, those are all signs Jackson was simply getting back at his father for the pain and ridicule heâ??d suffered. That brilliant career was fueled by deep dark psychological flames and a pharmacy full of painkillers. In the end, all those attempts at killing the pain succeeded, but at what a cost to world culture.

That urge to put his father down may even be the reason why Jackson proclaimed himself â??King of Pop.â? Is there a double entendre there, a subtle dig? Telling his pop that he was in charge now? Let me pass by the pop psychology (pardon the pun) while I still can.

I suspect, as time passed, most Americans resigned themselves to Jacksonâ??s nose jobs, his skin change, his bizarre behavior, but they never really got past the suspicions of pedophilia that hounded him in his later years and essentially ruined his career. Their ambivalence towards Jackson may never be entirely resolved.

Personally, I donâ??t think Jackson was a pedophile. He certainly wasnâ??t gay. In actuality, he was probably sexually stunted, his development frozen at age 11. Unless some future biographer comes up with solid evidence, I see nothing sexual in his desire to hang around little boys. Thatâ??s because I think he looked at it as hanging around other little boys. Journalists didnâ??t take to calling him a man-boy for nothing.

Despite all his fame and fortune, in the end all he really wanted to be was a little kid living without adult supervision in a Neverland of his own making: no fathers allowed.

Pedophilia, of course, is a touchy subject for gay men. For decades now, the religious right has attempted to paint us as sexually crazed pedophiles seeking to turn decent, red-blooded American boys into pansies. Many elements of the religious right continue to use that imagery to raise money for their churches when polite suppers no longer suffice.

Thatâ??s why Jacksonâ??s cavorting with little boys has always been a problem for us. While weâ??ve danced to his music for decades, that cloud of suspicion has strained our relationship with him. Since his death, thereâ??s been a resurgence of interest in his music among gays as with most Americans, but for gay men heâ??ll always be problematic.

Rest in peace, Michael. Iâ??m glad you finally found it. As for the rest of us, weâ??ll have to continue wrestling with our own personal hurts until such time as we join you in whatever kind of Neverland awaits.

Authour, David Williams


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