Michael Bailey on Michael Jackson’s Sexuality

The Man Who Would Be Queen by Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern, isn’t just the best book about psychology I have ever read, it is one of the best books about anything I have ever read, right up there with Totto-Chan by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi and The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs.

Now Bailey has written a brilliant analysis of Michael Jackson’s sexuality. Bailey writes:

Jackson’s weirdness was so multifaceted that it presents both a challenge and an opportunity. . . . I propose an explanation of Michael Jackson that, if true, can explain several seemingly unrelated things:  the molestation accusations and interest in children, the obsession with Peter Pan, and the facial surgeries.

Plus the high-pitched voice. This is a basic point about causal inference not widely appreciated: If several rare things might have the same explanation, they probably do. Bailey’s conclusion is that Jackson had a very rare sexual identity disorder: He was sexually aroused by thinking of himself as a barely pubescent boy, just as a tiny number of men are sexually aroused by thinking of themselves as amputees (and these men try to become amputees) and a larger number of men are sexually aroused by thinking of themselves as a woman (and these men often have sex-change operations).

His facial surgeries made Jackson look unlike anyone else:

Normal people would hate to look like Michael Jackson did near the end of his life, and so normal people tend to assume that the surgeries were a series of big, compounded mistakes that Jackson must have regretted. Bad plastic surgery surely happens. But when it does, it is generally recognizable as a poor rendition of an aesthetically pleasing goal. Not so Michael Jackson’s face, which resembled nothing in the actual human, living world. Moreover, it has seemed to me that there was something coherent about the redesign of his face . . . If so, the 13 surgeries may be explained by something other than 13 different errors of judgment. . .

The face and the voice were both unnatural, and he went to a lot of trouble to have them. What was he trying to say and show with them? He told us, quite directly, the most likely answer.

“I am Peter Pan,” he said, more than once. He lived in Neverland. His second wife, Debbie Rowe, said that in order to get in the mood to have sex with her, Jackson dressed up as Peter Pan and danced around the bedroom. She said: “It made him feel romantic.”

Peter Pan, in the Disney version that Jackson knew, was a barely pubescent boy.

I wonder if diversity of sexual orientation persists because it produces diversity of occupation. People who enjoy unusual jobs have an advantage (less competition). Homosexual men probably have fewer children than heterosexual men — but what if homosexual men had an occupational advantage? Then they could make more money (or whatever) and their children would be better off. This would explain the persistence of homosexuality. Jackson, of course, was a huge occupational success. Bailey says a little about this:

Does my theory say anything about the origins of Michael Jackson’s tremendous talent? There are some correlations between sexuality and [occupational] abilities. For example, gay men are vastly overrepresented among professional dancers and fashion designers. This may reflect their increased interest in and dedication to dance and fashion, rather than natural talent per se. Autogynephiles [men sexually aroused by thinking of themselves as a woman] tend to be gifted in technical, mathematical, and scientific pursuits, with computer scientist being the prototypic autogynephilic occupation. But we don’t really know anything about the occupational interests of hebephiles [men attracted to barely pubescent boys], much less autohebephiles.

12 Replies to “Michael Bailey on Michael Jackson’s Sexuality”

  1. I disagree with your glowing appraisal. While well-written, the piece reminds me of the official sounding mumbo-jumbo produced by FBI profilers and the like: ad hoc, “just-so stories” that may convince juries, but are unfalsifiable and have no predictive power (which could serve as a good working definition of the entire “science” of psychology).

  2. Wilbur, Bailey’s analysis makes 2 types of predictions: 1. Symptom cluster. Bailey is saying these four traits have a single cause. Those four traits should appear together in other cases. 2. Other traits. This analysis predicts that Jackson is sexually aroused by thinking of himself as a pubescent boy. In addition, identification of another erotic identity disorder similar to autogynephilia makes it clearer what the general concept is (just as the concept of autoimmune disease is clarified by having more examples).

  3. Michael Jackson was not interested in young boys, nor was he interested in sex. His plastic surgeries were due to Body Dysmorphic Disorder. He identified himself with pubescent boys, as he was arresed at that stage emotionally. If he was interested in pubescent boys, he would have had sexual relations with many children. There was no way to get away with it, if he indeed molest children. Our society places too much emphasis on sexuality. Sexual deviation is considered to be more normal than asexuality.

  4. Risa, to say Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeries were due to Body Dysmorphic Disorder doesn’t explain the high-pitched voice nor the interest in children that Bailey considers. More generally, attaching a name to a phenomenon (= diagnosis) isn’t much of an explanation. For example, if I told a teenager, “the explanation for the spots on your face is that you have acne,” I think you’d see what I mean about the difference between diagnosis and explanation.

    I have no idea why you say Michael Jackson wasn’t interested in young boys.

  5. Except that his high pitched voice was a masquerade he put on for the media. Check out Michael Jackson’s Private Home Movies on Youtube, Michael Jackson speaks out against racism, and the live concerts where he talks to his fans. It’ll give you an idea what his normal talking voice sounded like. It’ll likely also change your perception of the man in general.

    He likes to think of himself as a puberescent? This part had me laugh out loud. So this is the reason for his sensual/sexual and very adult mannerism on stage?

  6. Saida is completely right. Michael Jackson wasn’t an idiot. In fact, he was extremely intelligent and a good business man. The high pitched voice made him seem soft and gentle. Because of this soft voice, people thought of him as ‘a nice guy’. If any of you are planning on watching ‘This Is It’, listen out for his voice. It’s deep and manly. As for thinking of himself as a puberescent, that’s a load of bs. He danced in a very suggestive manner (if you don’t think so, go watch his ‘In The Closet’ video) and had sex with Lisa Marie Presley while they were married (she confirmed that). These are not things that young boys do. Regarding his face, I think that Michael is handsome. As for Debbie Rowe and the Peter pan thing, where is this interview? I won’t believe it until I see it for myself. Even if she did say it, Debbie keeps changing her story. The last that I heard, her and Michael never even slept in the same room let alone with each other…

  7. Everyone else who agrees with me that any of that high-minded BS is actual BS, then I salute you. Good God! Debbie said that? I have not seen that statement anywhere but here. And, yes, she tends to change her tales as much as LaToya Jackson. LMP has said time and time again that her marriage to him was consummated. Why in the world would she lie? I think they had sex before they got married. Why wouldn’t they have, anyway? They were married afterall. I can’t say that I know positively whether or not he was not bi-sexual or asexual to some degree, but I don’t believe he was gay.

  8. This completely ignores the fact that Michael Jackson factually suffered from two very disfiguring skin diseases, vitiligo and lupus. This is what his doctors have said about the reason behind his nasal surgeries:

    Dr Richard Strick, who was appointed and paid for by the DA (Tom Sneddon) performed the court ordered examination of him in December 1993 and had viewed his medical records and therefore had no bias towards Jackson:

    “Michael had a disease vitiligo in which the pigment is lost and attempts had been made to bring that pigment back which had been unsuccessful so he tried to bleach it out so it would be one colour.

    Lupus is also an autoimmune disease and he also had skin involvement, which had destroyed part of the skin of his nose and his nasal surgeries and all were really reconstructive, to try and look normal. “

    So all these nose reconstructions you’re saying was as a result of him treating his lupus?

    “The first one was to try and reconstruct from some scar tissue and obstruction that had happened with the skin there. It didn’t work out very well and all subsequent attempts were to make it right.

    I think he was trying to look like a normal guy as best as that he could.”

    As for his sexuality, the court uncovered most of his desires:


    And many of his friends, girlfriends and employees have also spoken up about it:


    And finally, his voice was not naturally that high. He only spoke that way publically back in the Thriller era, after that his voice was the same pitch as any of his brothers and could get very low:

    Audio of his real voice in 2006


    He kept it soft to conserve his voice.

  9. i visited michael childhood home in gary indiana 2 weeks ago and i could feel his spirit he grabbed and pulled me closer to him. all i can say is the man aint gay. misunderstood but not a homo.

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