The following 2005 article from The Advocate was brought to my attention by a faithful reader of this blog. Ara, the reader who submitted the article to me to share, says:
I found the article after Michael died. I’d never paid any attention to Michael when he was alive but I fell in love with him the first time I watched him in the film “This Is It”. His pain-filled sweetness & fragility broke my heart. I felt, watching Michael, that I was witnessing something holy. Thus began a research journey into Michael that changed my life.
Of the hundreds and hundreds of articles I read, this is one of the ones that affected me most—mostly because the author spoke of a spiritual experience he had in Michael’s presence. Michael was an angel—I feel it strongly. There was a God-force about him.
Yes. The Advocate is a publication dedicated to homosexuals. Before anyone who isn’t familiar with this blog jumps on my case, I’m not suggesting Michael was gay. He wasn’t. He was sexually attracted to women, not men (or boys!).
What I am pointing out though, as the author if the piece below did, is that extreme prejudice about homosexuals (combined with the ignorant belief that Michael was one) may have caused people to much more easily subscribe to the belief that he was also guilty of being a pedophile. Many people still equate the two today. To make matters worse, some seedy people and organizations (such as Carl Toms (aka Thomas O’Carroll), Victor Gutierrez, IPCE and NAMBLA) even try to “normalize” child sexual abuse, and have co-opted Michael’s name and the allegations against him to further their cause, while adding weight to negative and largely undeserved assumptions about homosexuals ie: that many or most of them are also pedophiles.
I suspect there are no more homosexual pedophiles than there are heterosexual ones. The assumption that anyone who is gay must also be a pedophile (or that there is a greater likelihood of it if they’re gay) is grossly unfair. But the perception unfortunately is common and no doubt contributed to the presumption of guilt.
Either way, child sexual abuse is criminal and anyone advocating or participating in it are criminals. Michael Jackson did neither one of those things and this was proven in a court of law.
The Advocate editor wrote of his experience of meeting Michael as he was covering the 2005 trial for what he described as “rebel documentary production company World of Wonder.” The writer points out that “Ten years of raiding Neverland, Jackson’s home, have turned up nothing but two art books and a bunch of hetero porn. This trial could end proving nothing except that Michael Jackson is heterosexual.” And again, to anyone paying attention to the facts instead of tabloid lies, besides proving his innocence, the trial proved that as well!
To the point reader Ara was making, the writer also tries to explain that almost inexplicable feeling of being in Michael’s presence that others have shared: a happy, peaceful, spiritual feeling that seemed to bring out the best in many people who spent time with him as fans or as guests at Neverland. I’ve had dreams with Michael in them where this same feeling was prevalent. I would describe it as “peaceful joy”.
Below is the text of the article in its entirety:
“A Stranger in Neverland”
When Michael Jackson was indicted, something in my gut told me he was probably guilty. Pity, because I liked that he was becoming so freaky over the years. As a lifelong weirdo myself it’s always nice to have a talented celebrity join the club. But a child molester? Not the kind of company I need in my club.
I left it at that and didn’t put much more thought into it.
When jury selection began, rebel documentary production company World of Wonder asked me and my directing partner to shoot a film about the fans who were moving to Santa Maria, Calif., to voice support for Jackson during the trial. Brilliant! Telling the stories of those that most people dismiss as strange is my thing.
But as I researched the case, I found it difficult to get facts free of editorial. Trusted news organizations peppered words like “weird” and “wacko” throughout their coverage and took knocks at his looks, voice, and manner. The jabs at his race and gender reminded me how far we have to go in acceptance not only of sexuality but of racial and gender diversity.
I reexamined my initial hunch. Why had I thought he was “probably guilty”? Honestly? Because I thought he was a closeted gay man. And then—snap! I had made the leap from closeted gay to pedophile all on my very own. It is one of the most fundamental lies used to perpetuate homophobia, and on some level I fell for it.
Ten years of raiding Neverland, Jackson’s home, have turned up nothing but two art books and a bunch of hetero porn. This trial could end proving nothing except that Michael Jackson is heterosexual. What if they’d found a Falcon video or even just a copy of The Advocate? It’s frightening to think that the discovery of one of those items could seal someone’s conviction as a child molester. I’ve got lots of both.
Last month I filmed a young woman who approached Jackson’s SUV on his way home from court. She was struggling with cancer and afraid the accusation that Jackson had molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor might frighten Jackson from ever reaching out again. But Jackson held her hand tightly and gave her encouragement as she told him of her impending bone-marrow transplant. His simple gesture meant the world to her. With his own family hanging in the balance, Jackson still takes the time to make a difference to people. Every day.
After we’d spent weeks outside Neverland filming the fans, Michael Jackson invited us all inside. There were about 70 of us, ranging in age from10 to 80. Leaving our camera behind, we walked with the fans right up to the porch, and Michael stepped out to greet us. He presented his children: Prince, Paris, and Prince II (a.k.a. Blanket). The kids waved, and the crowd screamed, “We love you!”
Once inside, I looked at the faces around me, many of them so familiar. I knew what this moment meant to them. I knew all of them were right then experiencing one of the highlights of their lives.
It was then I realized, so was I. Inside Neverland, Michael, his children, and his parents mingled with us, making a point to personally thank as many as possible. He smiled graciously as I passed him, and all I could think to say was, “Thank you for the music.” Later I kicked myself. I could’ve said anything, but I quoted ABBA to the King of Pop.
Since then, I’ve been unable to describe the experience without thinking I sound like a lunatic. The happiness was overwhelming. Tears welled up in my eyes. There was something almost spiritual about it. I felt kinder, more generous, a better person. I looked around at my documentary subjects, giddy with excitement, and finally saw what they had in common: Michael Jackson brought out the best in them.
My friends say I’m brainwashed, a wacko. I argue Jackson’s case every chance I get.
But it wasn’t Neverland that changed me as much as the realization that homophobia and sexism play such large roles in the public’s perception that he’s “probably guilty.”
Whatever the eventual verdict, two things I know: One, Michael Jackson has committed so much of himself to helping others that thousands of people are better off because of him. Two, Michael Jackson is an American citizen. Just one of those is enough to let him be innocent until proven guilty. Give him his day in court.