I’m tired of watching white men get away with sexual violence against Black men
by Jamila Mitchell
This essay contains discussion of r/pe and sexual violence against minors.
We need to talk about gay white men and how they get away with the rape and sexual violation of Black folks without society holding them accountable.
Kevin Spacey, the actor recently charged with the sexual assault of a then-under age bus boy, is a fluke. The gay white men who do what he’s done usually get away with it, especially when their victims aren’t white. As a minor, before transitioning, I was coerced and seduced by many older gay white men who preyed on Black children assumed to be boys, and their tactics became more and more dangerous as I grew into adulthood.
My first encounter I can remember with sexual coercion was at the age of 12. I was sitting in the lobby of a doctor’s office as my mother checked in with the registrar for my appointment. A white male, easily in his thirties or forties, took the opportunity to sit next to me and lean to greet me with, “You look like you play basketball”.
He later found me on the Chicago – M4M AOL chat room and tried to solicit me to join other boys at a Michigan gathering. I said no to him. But I eventually said yes to the 20-something white men I later met as a teenager with a driver’s license. Although I harbor no regrets about my teenage years of exploring my sexuality, I still wish I had been able to call out the predatory behavior of these men. I wasn’t ready, because I didn’t yet understand the nature of consent.
In 2013, I had a conversation with my friend, Rosa, who had been conducting research on consent for her Women’s Studies minor at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. As I responded to her thoughtful questions, the mental walls I had subconsciously built began to crack: a significant amount of my sexual experiences had been nothing more than my surrender to a man’s predation.
The alcohol, drugs, and unsolicited groping were so normalized in everyday social life on the gay streets of Milwaukee (and Internet spaces) that I had been subconsciously conforming to it. I had been giving myself to what I thought was mandatory for social acceptance, regardless of my desires or my body’s comfort.
Milwaukee used to have a gay strip club. The club, owned by a white man who easily blended in with all the other 50+ white men with eagle eyes for people young enough to be their kids. The cast of strippers was almost entirely Black gay and transgender people. The “gay scene” nicknamed the club “Cess Pool”.
I met friends with benefits and had willing sexual encounters there. I built close friendships with most of them, and to this day still have love for the former crew. What shocked me, however, was when I learned one of the newest strippers had been underage when they began (approximately 16 or 17 years of age).
Everything I described was, and still is the norm. I still witness and experience the same drug-induced sexual advances by white men, but now I know enough about consent and power dynamics to be able to see exactly what is happening. If drugs and alcohol aren’t offered to lure in poor Black folks, white men use money. I saw this a lot growing up in Milwaukee.
The city remains one of the top three “worst cities for African Americans” due to its economic disparity, high unemployment rate, and poverty. After all, Black families are two and half times above the poverty rate of Wisconsin overall. With gay men, especially gay Black men, having the highest likelihood of homelessness and severe poverty, Milwaukee’s predatory fetishists continue to see that as a great opportunity.
But this is not limited to my personal experiences in Milwaukee. According to a 2017 report by the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 1 in 6 men (identified as men at time of survey) experience some form of sexual violence. Commonly understood, however, the number could be greater as men and masculine-identified people are often deterred from reporting abuse. I’d opine, it is even greater, because sexual violence and coercion is incredibly normal. And Black men especially are disallowed from holding their abusers accountable.
I will never forget actor Terry Crews’ public statement that he had been sexually assaulted by Hollywood executive Adam Venit. Sadly, Crews became the target of both homophobic and anti-Black verbal attacks via social media as well as mainstream media. Exposing a white man’s predation on him became more dangerous for him than it was for the man who assaulted him. Homophobia and anti-Blackness converged to protect Venit and shame Crews.
This is part of the same thinking that has allowed Ed Buck to operate the way he does. We don’t know how many young Black men have been victimized by major Democratic Party, contributor Ed Buck, now under investigation after authorities found a second dead Black man in his LA home. The first was 26 year old Gemmel Moore, found dead due to meth drug overdose in Ed Buck’s living room.
Earlier this month, police returned to Ed Buck’s home to find the body of gay porn star, Timothy Dean. The cause of death was meth overdose, just like Moore’s. Now, another person has come forward. Jermaine Gagnon has shared how Ed Buck gave him a drink laced with an unknown substance and then injected him with meth, but he was ultimately able to escape Buck’s home.
At the time of writing this piece, Ed Buck still has not been charged – merely questioned: symptoms of the fatality of white privilege and lack of empathy for Black people. Although some notable political LA insiders have given public outcry about Ed Buck’s insidious behavior and Moore’s mother continues to demand justice publicly, we are only seeing barriers to justice for Ed Buck’s two dead Black victims.
There are many Ed Bucks. I can attest, as I’ve been offered an abundance of a wide assortment of drugs by white men from their comfort of gay clubs, after parties, and private residences. Even without drugs and alcohol, the physical and verbal behavior of unchecked white gay men is latent with entitlement.
Rape culture is not something limited to racial demographics. It’s everywhere, deeply embedded in various parts of our society and in various systems. But, we cannot ignore the genocidal consequences that happen when rape culture, homophobia, and racism overlap.
If we expect society to begin abolishing the socio-psychological culture of sexual violence, we have to be blunt about every facet of these tragedies. We need to specifically address how gay white men continue to prey on Black folks, whose bodies they feel entitled to, and get away with it.
Jamila Mitchell is a writer that comes from across the disciplines of business management, non-profit development, and community organizing. Educated in economics and business management at the Milwaukee School of Engineering Rader School of Business, Jamila has used her knowledge assets on neoclassical economics as an advocate and grant writer for various causes such as mental health treatment. She has worked on numerous political campaigns including the Fight For $15 pro-union national campaign, voter rights, and various President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.