This is the second part, of a 3-part series, where I’m going over instances of fatal violence against Black Gay/Queer men, in order to highlight ways that the system often works against people who live in the intersection of being both Black and Gay/Queer. In the first part, I discussed the murder of Giovanni Melton, by his own father. In this piece, I’ll be discussing the Gemmel Moore and the systemic factors around his case.
[Trigger/Content Warning for anti-Black murder]
UPDATE: In the wake of issues coming up around an article on Gemmel Moore, published by The Root (which I’m not linking), I find it pertinent to include additional information, where facts around Gemmel’s case were clarified. Particularly since, even though I do not present myself as a journalist, and Angry Black Hoemo is nowhere near as visible as The Root, there may be folks who are learning of this case from here for the first time. Although issues around sex work very much intersect with this case, it’s important to clarify that sexual contact didn’t take place. Ed Buck’s fetish was specifically injecting Black men with meth. Please be sure to check out Jasmyne’s response to The Root’s article, and keep her website and social media bookmarked, as well as Justice 4 Gemmel, to be able to keep up with the most accurate and up-to-date info.
On July 27, 2017, a young Black Gay man, named Gemmel “Juelz” Moore, died due to a meth overdose. This would be a tragedy, in and of itself, but the kicker is that this overdose occurred in the home of affluent democratic party donor, and white Gay man, Ed Buck. It was initially deemed an “accidental” overdose, but is now being investigated as a possible homicide.
Gemmel was in the home of Buck, on an appointment as an escort/sex worker. Ed Buck has a very specific fetish, where he likes to inject copious amounts of methamphetamine into men. He specifically targets Black men to carry out this fetish. Jasmyne Cannick has been one of the few people (that I’ve seen) consistently working and reporting on this story, and she’s been able to find several other Black men who reported very similar experiences with Buck. Gemmel Moore’s encounter just happened to end more tragically than the several other Black Gay men who have been targeted by Buck.
It’s also worth pointing out that, as the LAPD and coroner were at Buck’s house to retrieve Gemmel’s body, another young Black man was heading into Ed Buck’s home (likely to carry out the same fetish), and had to be turned away. Meaning that Buck’s priority, despite having a dead body in his home (by his own doing), was fulfilling his fetish through another Black body…the same fetish that literally just killed someone.
This situation feels like a culmination of much of my years-long commentary on WhiteGayze™. Particularly, how Gay spaces often see Black men’s bodies as either something to erase, ignore and revile, or to fetishize and capitalize on. In either instance, we’re not recognized and affirmed as human. We’re good enough to appropriate an entire culture from or to be used for their “chocolate” fetish, but our actual lives are largely disposable.
Ed Buck’s treatment of Gemmel Moore, and many other Black Gay men like him, is another instance of this issue. This speaks to many of the critiques that I’ve long made about anti-Blackness in Gay/LGBTQ spaces…or at least tried to make. I’ve often found myself getting bored with participating in these discussions, because people are determined to keep them surface-level…all about “preferences” in sex and dating.
Yes, it’s absolutely true that excluding Black men based on our race is inherently anti-Black, but it goes deeper than that.
I’m personally not interested in gaining the attention, or approval, of WhiteGayze™. But what I’ve long been interested in is exploring the ways in which these sexual/dating “preferences” can materialize in other, far more consequential, ways. When these “preferences” are informed, consciously or subconsciously, by the social norms around us, then how else do you think those “preferences” show up? Fetishizing someone isn’t simply a matter of desiring someone sexually…but of viewing them purely as a sexual object, to the point where their humanity is erased.
In the case of Ed Buck, he had to know the effects of slamming that much meth. He had to know it can’t possibly be healthy for any human. But alas, in a scene where WhiteGayze™ see Black men as objects to use for their own selfish desires before seeing us as human beings, who cares that so much meth consumption could potentially be fatal? As long as “massa” gets his rocks off, that’s all that matters, right? And Buck is just one of legions of WhiteGayze™ like him. This kind of mentality is common. And after spending over 5 years in the Gay Leather/BDSM scene, I’ve seen this mentality take shape in several different ways. Sure, the vast majority of cases may not end up this tragic, but it’s foolish to look at this situation in a bubble. To not understand how an overarching mentally around Black men in Gay spaces could lead to this happening.
Also, it needs to be discussed that, in addition to the disposability that comes with being both Black and Gay, Gemmel was a sex worker…another experience that mostly inspires judgment and erasure (if there’s any acknowledgement, at all). It’s known that there’s a huge problem with respecting people’s autonomy and consent, just in general. However, it reaches a new level with sex workers. There’s this idea that, because money is involved and it’s their job, that any sex worker should just be down for whatever fantasy their clients have in mind (which we recently have seen an example of). Due to stigma, largely inspired by the legal system and puritanical, colonial views, sex workers often have their autonomy (if not humanity) devalued and erased. Sex workers—particularly, ones who engage in actual sexual contact in their work (i.e. Escorts)—also have little-to-no recourse if, and when, something bad happens to them.
Never mind that it’ll almost never draw any widespread outrage, as sex workers don’t meet too many benchmarks of respectability…therefore, aren’t seen as “worthwhile” victims. So, when you combine the way that sex workers are dehumanized, plus their total lack of systemic (and social) protection, they can be especially easy targets for predatory behavior.
Combine all of that with being both Black and Gay, and you might as well not even exist…and I believe that people like Ed Buck are fully aware of all of this.
First and foremost, I want Black Gay/Queer men to understand that there’s little-to-no solidarity to be found from WhiteGayze™. Ultimately, they’re socialized to operate in terms of their race first (and if you’re familiar with my work, you know I consider the very existence and functioning of whiteness as inherently anti-Black). Like any other demographic of whiteness, they’re socialized to see us in terms of Blackness before they see us as fully human. This is a basic reality that we simply need to be aware of, going into any kind of interaction with them. Allowing ourselves to be too comfortable or feel like we can just inherently find safety with them, particularly on the basis of being Gay/Queer, would be a grave mistake.
Also, at some point, it would be a good idea for more of the LGBTQ community to collectively dig deeper than the vapid, surface-level discussions of anti-Blackness in the scene. We need to not just focus on why white men put “No Blacks, No Asians” in their profiles, but also interrogate the institutions and systems that inform those “preferences.” For example, when we see Black LGBTQ people being pushed out of services and resources that WhiteGayze™ have long gotten to benefit from. And how that exclusion has set us farther behind than others.
“No Blacks,” indeed.
P.S. If you’re interested in following this case, and supporting the work being done to hold Ed Buck accountable for what he’s done, check out Justice 4 Gemmel.
In the third, and final, part to this series, I’ll be bringing this all together by discussing why the public outcry in both of these cases has been inadequate, at best. Stay tuned!
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