MALCOLM X; was born on this date. (d:: 1965); Born Malcolm Little (and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz‎), Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister and a human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; his detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

Malcolm X was effectively orphaned early in life. His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which he lived in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering. While in prison he became a member of the Nation of Islam, and after his parole in 1952 quickly rose to become one of its most influential leaders. For a dozen years he was the public face of the controversial group; in keeping with the Nation’s teachings he espoused black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans and scoffed at the civil rights movement’s emphasis on integration.

He was arguably seen as the yin to non-violence adherent Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s yang. By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad. He ultimately repudiated the Nation and its teachings and embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, including completing the Hajj, he returned to the United States to found Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

While continuing to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense, he disavowed racism. In February 1965, shortly after repudiating the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three of its members. The Autobiography of Malcolm X published shortly after his death, is considered one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century. He was 39 years old.

According to eyewitness testimony and hundreds of different sources, Malcolm X was a bisexual who carried on a sustained affair with a white businessman. It is, of course, not unheard of for poor straight men to make a quick buck as rent boys. But Malcolm X’s involvement seems to have been a little different. Firstly, he liked to boast loudly to whomever would listen that he “serviced queers.” Then there’s the matter of his sustained sexual relationship with a white businessman, not to mention his frequent dalliances with the transvestite Willie Mae. In all, Malcolm X is thought to have spent a decade of his life sleeping almost exclusively with men; usually for money but not always. As Peter Tatchell pointed out in The Guardian, it’s unlikely he could have sustained the practice that long without at least some level of interest.

And interest seems to have always been there in Malcolm’s life. Although there’s no suggestion he slept with men after marrying his wife, old school friends have repeatedly remarked that he used to make local boys jerk him off; boasting if he managed to get them to give him oral sex. Recently, the respected African-American historian Manning Marable repeated the assertion in his hugely scholarly biography of Malcolm X; a book of such incredible erudition that it’s almost impossible to argue with. To sum up then, there seem to be no two ways about this. Malcolm X was almost certainly a member of the LGBT community. And that’s something we should celebrate.