Manning Marable’s New Biography – “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” & The Allegations That Malcolm was Homosexual

I recently bought the new biography of Malcolm X and was saddened to find unsubstantiated accusations by the author Manning Marable, that the great Al Hajj Malik Al Shabazz was a homosexual rent boy.

One of the first books that helped shape the re-politicisation of a young Akh was the autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, this battered, dog eared, underlined and much lent out copy from March 1992 has been a constant companion on numerous bookshelves over the years.

What Marable’s Book Actually Says:

Because I’m a clarity fanatic, I excerpted what Marable wrote about an indigent, likely drug-addled Detroit Red, circa 1945. It comes from pages 65 and 66; an endnote on page 506 demonstrates how the historian was weighing claims introduced in a 1991 biography by political science professor Bruce Perry.

“…[Malcolm] first returned to New York City and subsequently to Boston, desperately trying to survive through a variety of hustles. It was during this time that Malcolm encountered a man named William Paul Lennon, and the uncertain particulars of their intimate relationship would generate much controversy and speculation in the years following Malcolm’s death. …The ‘Autobiography’ describes sexual contacts with Lennon, except that Malcolm falsely attributed them to a character named Rudy:

[Rudy] had a side deal going, a hustle that took me right back to the old steering days in Harlem. Once a week, Rudy went to the home of this old, rich Boston blueblood, pillar-of-society aristocrat. He paid Rudy to undress them both, then pick up the old man like a baby, lay him on his bed, then stand over him and sprinkle him all over with talcum powder. Rudy said the old man would actually reach his climax from that.

Based on circumstantial but strong evidence, Malcolm was probably describing his own homosexual encounters with Paul Lennon. The revelation of his involvement with Lennon produced much speculation about Malcolm’s sexual orientation, but the experience appears to have been limited. There is no evidence from his prison record in Massachusetts or from his personal life after 1952 that he was actively homosexual. … In his Detroit Red life, he participated in prostitution, marijuana sales, cocaine sessions, numbers running, the occasional robbery, and, apparently paid homosexual encounters.”

This is a blatant misunderstanding of historical research.

Marable Manning was born in 1950…He had to be about 6 years old when Malcolm first joined the Nation of Islam in 1956.

So my first question is, how would he know about Malcolm X’s sexual encounters?

And from which reliable primary source?

Malcolm told him and Alex Haley that he was a homosexual?

I doubt it very much.

Considering Al Hajj Malik Al Shabazz was assassinated many years ago, there’s no way he himself can rebut these spurious allegations. The author of this book Manning Marable also died, days before his book was to be launched, so there will never be any clarity of these allegations.

If you’re not reading the book, then reappraise yourself with Malcolm’s words and actions, from some of the following links;

Manning Marable on “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” 2007

“Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”: Manning Marable’s New Biography Investigates Conflicted Reality of the Civil Rights Leader

Detroit Red has some good archive footage.

The Legacy of Malcolm X



Filed under Book Review

5 responses to “Manning Marable’s New Biography – “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” & The Allegations That Malcolm was Homosexual

  1. hotterthanapileofcurry

    Karl Evanzz has said that Marable’s book is a “fraud” and a “failure.” His problems include that Marable offers nothing new or particularly revelatory, and that all of the more salacious claims in the book, from Malcolm and his wife Betty’s mutual adultery to Malcolm’s homosexuality, are far from supported by Marable. Evanzz also notes that some of the more attention-grabbing elements of the book involving the assassination have been more or less known for quite some time and had even been reported popularly in mainstream outlets for decades. Evanzz is also in the process of writing a more full review.

  2. hotterthanapileofcurry

    Riz Khan Al Jazeera – Malcolm X: Who was the man behind the legend?

  3. Pingback: 100 essays on malcolm x «

  4. I don’t understand why you refer to Marable’s claims as “allegations” and “accusations.” You can only accuse someone of doing something wrong or illegal. Being gay is neither. Further, in the text you quoted Marable doesn’t even claim Malcolm X is gay: “the experience appears to be limited…there is no evidence from is criminal record…or from his personal life after 1952 that he was actively homosexual…” All Marable claims in the quoted passage is that Malcolm X may have prostituted himself. Having sex for money with someone of the same gender does not mean you are gay necessarily, and, at least in the quoted passage, Marable doesn’t claim anything about his sexual orientation.

    • Akh The Angry Academic Activist

      Allegations & accusations – In your words “What Marable claims” without steadfast proof beyond a reasonable doubt then they are allegations, accusations and claims, highly spurious at best.

      That page aside, the book was a good read providing further insight into Malcolm X.

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