Gemmel Moore and the truth about the white gaze
This wasn’t my plan to do this article as the first one for @Ariesfirebomb. Hell, I didn’t plan to do this article at all honestly. I’m still having an issue with writing this the way it should be written but I suppose that just jumping in is the best way to do it.
Let me preface by saying that this is not an attack on anyone or a group of people. It IS however something that will shed a light on another aspect of White privilege and White supremacy. One that many are too ashamed to speak up about and certainly one that is dismissed by not only white people, but other blacks as well.
Gemmel Moore was a 27-year-old gay sex worker who was murdered by an older gay white client. I say murdered because Ed Buck, a wealthy older white man, would lure younger black gay men into his home off the street with the promise of food, clothing and money if they did his kink, which was to watch people shoot up meth. He would offer these men as much as $500 a hit and then proceeded not only to have sex with them, but to entice them into luring more black men into his home. Police found Gemmel dead in Ed’s home along with drug paraphernalia. They also had testimonies from several other gay black sex workers AND journal entries detailing the situation with Ed himself; he was not charged with any wrong doing. I had read this story last July when Mr. Moore was found dead and although it did sadden me, reading this again brought up buried trauma and has sparked quite the discussion with my friends.
Over the years many of you would hear me talk about how white gay cis gendered men were problematic and racist. Many of you have dismissed this as me being militant, spiteful and even racist. I assure you none of these are the case. The truth of the matter is that many young black gay men have experienced racial and sexual traumas at the hands of white gay men. I’m willing to even go as far as saying that every gay black boy you know probably has. I’m one of them.
I won’t be naming any of the men I talk about because I don’t need lawsuits. These men have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around. I have 100k in student loan debt. I don’t want that smoke, however I promise you, I’ll be as truthful as possible.
The first encounter happened in September of 2009 when I was 21. I had just moved to Minnesota from Indianapolis and was looking for a fresh start. I was living on my own and saw this as my chance to be my very own Maxine Shaw of the film world. I was registering to attend college, I was reconnecting with old friends and old flames, and things were starting to finally look up for me. I was talking to my friend Angel about filmmaking and what I wanted to do when he replied that he had two regulars that came into the restaurant he worked in and were both heavily into the arts. He also said that one of them was a playwright. For the sake of what I said earlier, lets just call them Steve. Now both Steve and his husband shared the same first name, which I thought was funny-weird but that’s neither here nor there. Angel then contacted the Steves and arranged a hang out so I could speak with them. Angel, myself, and my then best friend Esteban all piled in my cavalier and set out to a suburb called Woodbury to check out their spot.
We pull up and the house is gorgeous! Huge backyard pool and a private bar and game room installed. It was great! Steve greeted us at the door. He was a tall, extremely heavyset balding man. He had Dave Matthew’s band BLASTING from several speakers and invited us in. We walk down into the game room and Steve immediately starts offering us drinks. I declined because at the time I didn’t drink plus I drove however, my friends were on their third drinks before I said no. I started to make conversation with the guy and was asking him about theater and playwriting. He looked at me confused. I told him what Angel had reiterated to me. He then told me that it was the other Steve (a young Hawaiian/Filipino about ten years younger than him) that LIKED plays and stuff, but neither of them were in the arts. White Steve was a physician. Brown Steve worked as a general manager. I was HIGHLY annoyed but let it go since I was having a good time. I swam a few laps in the pool while my friends goofed around at the other end with Steve. He kept offering more drinks, which I declined, but they did not.
I’m naturally a quiet person unless I really know you and am comfortable talking to you. Steve took this as me being distant. However, I wasn’t feeling him because I was constantly rebuffing his advances when he grabbed my dick or body. He then said, “I can turn on some of that rap shit your people like.” My two friends laughed in agreement because they wanted to party, I decided to just shut the fuck up and keep doing my thing. Some time had passed and now it’s getting dark; I recall Ke$ha pop rap playing. Steve is still getting awfully touchy feely with both of my friends and pleading with me to come over as well. I continue to decline and say I’m just going to head inside. Once inside I towel off and browse through a few of his books before settling on something showing on tv. This was a time before social media popped off to where it is now, so I sat there going back and forth between seeing if anyone was on skype, a bland Facebook feed and Twitter. I look out the window and see both of my friends, drunk as fuck, naked and having this guy kiss all over them. I get up and go outside to keep a closer eye on them and that’s when this guy turned.
He started SCREAMING at me to get back inside because I wasn’t interested. I was almost in a state of disbelief; it was like some shit you saw in bad lifetime movies. But this dude was really raging over the fact that I was sober, coherent and witnessing his attempted rape of two brown boys. I snap out of it and talk shit to him while trying to get my friends out of the pool. They were coherent enough where they could swim out of the pool and walk but their words were a mixture of slurred speech and giggles. One by one I help them out of the pool while Steve is over there calling me all sorts of assholes and ghetto trash with no manners. I ignore him and immediately guide my friends inside and try to get them dressed. Steve comes in a few minutes later as I’m helping the second friend and starts going on and on about how I should just go ahead and stay. He offered me some expensive 90-year-old Brandy that I immediately slapped out of his hand. This sets him off even more and he starts trying to push me out while my friend was still on the floor trying to put on his shoes. I start to really panic at this point so I grabbed a pool stick, broke it and threatened to stab him with it. In hindsight it was a stupid fucking plan. A big black man out in the middle of the suburbs with two drunk Mexicans in a white man’s house… threatening him, but I didn’t know what else to do. Luckily, he backed off and I was able to get both of my friends in my car and we sped off. The next day they recalled nothing and didn’t seem too concerned when I told them the story.
I’m no longer in contact with either of these people by the way.
The second incident happened a little later. In 2015 I worked a terrible overnight job while still trying to write. I was pretty jaded about how my life in general was going. I was more frustrated about why my web series, that my friends and I did together, never cracked more than a couple hundred views, yet vine stars were becoming insanely popular for doing absolutely nothing.
I went to this bar, here in Minneapolis, called The Saloon on the one Saturday I had off and met a guy named Gary and a few of his friends. They were all older white men; good looking, non-threating type, or so it seemed. They repeatedly complimented me, grabbed my arms and other areas of my body all while trying to get me to go back to their place. As quickly as I dodged their hands I started asking them a few questions like what they did for work etc. I couldn’t really escape them because this bar is quite small. I also didn’t want to leave because I was having a good time with some other friends I was with (unsurprisingly, more people I no longer fuck with). Normally I wouldn’t pick the saloon because it’s a place that creeps me out. The clientele is mostly gay older white men scamming on young boys. Black, White, Latino, Asian - doesn’t matter. As long as you are under 35 and cute in the face, they were ON you.
This bar also plays a lot of the shitty Skrillex type EDM and that’s not my style (I’m a House head) so I never go there. If I were to go out with my melaninated friends, we would have ended up at the Gay 90s for their hip-hop room and drag show. That’s neither here nor there, but if you ever visit MN hit up that spot or any queer poc dance party (Shout out to Michel Be and Queen Duin!). Anyway, Gary (the guy I’m talking about in this part, keep up), starts saying how he’s getting into production and knows a few filmmakers. I give him that “uh huh, sure” smile and then he proceeds to show me on his phone that he was indeed connected to a lot of people. Multiple personal pics and videos with folks like this famous writer and director who is from here. I won’t say her name for legal reasons, but her biggest movie sounds you YOUKNO.
He then proceeds to tell me that he’s looking for a partner to help craft his screenplay. It was some bullshit about reincarnation that sounded like a terrible rendition of 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd, but he had connections so I agreed to help him out. I made it clear I wasn’t interested in anything else other than filmmaking and he agreed to keep it friendly. The first four times we met up were fine; coffee shops, parks and even his house. I thought nothing of it because it was a steady working relationship for like three months. So by the summer, he suggested that we work on the script at his place where he would throw a few things on the grill while we worked. I get there, and things are fine. I watched him as he prepared food for the grill, declined his requests to smoke a joint and have a drink with him, and things were seemingly fine. It started to get dark and he didn’t have any lights in his backyard (allegedly), so we moved into his living room. We work a bit more and then I go excuse myself because I had a phone call from a friend and I had to go pee anyway. When I return, Gary had a full spread of drugs on the table. Poppers, weed, meth, you name it. I Immediately tell him that’s not my scene and I was gonna head out; he in turn tried to get me to stay.
Now for those of you who don’t know me, I’m 6’1 and built like a linebacker, so many of the men I’ve encountered in these situations never tried to get too physical. However, this guy clearly was up for the challenge. He was pretty well built and constantly kept trying to grab me and guide me back to the couch. After a couple of stiff armed attempts to ward him off, I ended up pushing him into his bookcase, causing him to fall. Again, being in such a white upper middle class neighborhood, I knew how this would turn out so I fled. I kid you not; I sped home and made a 20-minute drive in like 10 minutes. Despite the fact that I really enjoyed his female filmmaker friend for her movies and her tv show, that was on at the time, I had zero interest in doing a casting couch scenario to MAYBE get a meeting with her.
These are only TWO of many instances that have happened to me and I could tell you several more. Like the time a group of older white men put their hands in my friends pants trying to fondle him. Or the men who offered to pay me 3k to get myself and other black/brown men I knew, to come have a meth and popper filled orgy, which I politely declined (despite REALLY being able to use the money).
The pattern I noticed is that in many cases, these affluent men automatically claim ownership of our black and brown bodies, much like they do with women. When I posted about Gemmel on Instagram and Facebook I received about 10 different messages from black gay men who have had similar experiences and weren’t so lucky to get away like I did. As well as from women who had been told stories by their black gay friends. Rage and sadness were the two emotions I felt when hearing/sharing these stories.
Many of us have stood silent over the years because who could we tell? The LGBT community doesn’t care unless you’re a white man. The black community only cares about Black Lives when it comes to Cis black men. Let’s not forget that many in the black community see black LGBT as sexually deviant people who “chose” that lifestyle and deserve everything negative that comes to them. No one cares for boys like Gemmel, Ed Buck’s other victims, myself, my friends and even our black trans sisters who are routinely murdered and vilified as well. If no one else will stand up for us then I will because #icanrelate.
- Ja'Mon Kimbrough, Founder of Ariesfirebomb. IG/twitter: ariesfirebomb