In his unauthorized (and fortunately timed) Michael Jackson biography, Ian Halperin reports that Jackson was gay and had a taste for young (albeit adult) men. Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson alleges that Jackson would dress up as a woman (which frankly, seems hardly more unusual than his daily wardrobe) to go meet a construction-worker lover at a "grungy, rat-infested" Vegas hotel, and that he also had a relationship with an aspiring actor/Hollywood waiter. (What Jackson wasn't, Halperin attests, was a pedophile, though his proclivity for sharing a bed with teenage boys "bordered on criminal stupidity.")
Halperin is a journalist who spent nearly five years embedded in Jackson's world, even predicting in December 2008 that Jackson had just six months to live. Whether it's investigative reporting or tabloid sensationalism, one thing is clear: It's going to be a long, loooong time before we stop hearing strange and sordid secrets about the strange and sordid life of Michael Jackson. (Did you know, for instance, that he was fond of spending days at a time in a drug-induced pseudo-coma state a nurse likened to being a "living corpse"?) So it's tempting to treat this as just another one of those. It would come as no surprise if a man as psychically tortured as Jackson struggled with his sexuality, whatever it was. It might also explain something we wondered about recently. But given how steeped in rumor and speculation everything we know about Jackson's last few years are, the question is not "OMG, was he really gay?" but: Would it change his legacy if he was?
One thing the last few weeks have shown is how accommodating Jackson's public is, at least in death. The mourning masses have been willing to forgive and forget everything from abuse allegations and serious substance abuse to straight-up kookiness and near cultural irrelevance. If the hours and hours of airtime "Billie Jean" has received on car stereos and in spinning classes around the globe are any indication, humanity, as it puzzles out its complicated feelings about an extraordinarily complicated icon, seems intent on remembering Jackson for what he was first—a masterful musician. Compared to the freak flags Jackson flew these last few decades, it couldn't have been all that shocking, or off-putting, if he'd also flown a rainbow one. It may have even made him more human.
Previously > About those scantily clad construction workers...