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#JusticeForGemmelMoore: On Ed Buck and The Death of A Black Sex Worker In Hollywood

Politico Ed Buck’s obsession with fetishizing and destroying black bodies for his own pleasure is an extension of colonial imperialism.

Content Warning: Detailed discussion of drug use included in author’s commentary.

As I sat at the foot of my bed, my eyes scanned the bold headline which read, “Sex, Politics, Meth, and Death in West Hollywood.” It wasn’t the sensationalized headline that held my attention, but the image of the deceased, next to a photo of a deeply familiar face.

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I read the accounts shared by LaTisha Nixon, the mother of Gemmel Moore’s, the young, 26-year-old black sex worker who flew out to southern California as a guest of politico Ed Bucks, in the WeHoTimes article. Her powerful expression of suspicion about the circumstances behind the death of her son in the home of a powerful, wealthy, white gay man, with a reputation as a generous political donor, left me with an overwhelming heaviness over my heart. While the allegations were merely speculation to some, I believe them to be true.

Ed Buck and I met through the Stonewall Democratic Club. At an annual Stonewall retreat in the mountains, I had a rather unusual encounter with him.

It was the night of January 23rd, 2016 at a little after 9:30 pm. I’d stepped out onto the deck to observe the snowfall and take in the crisp air. Ed came out to join me and we engaged in light conversation.

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The lightness left the conversation as he randomly leaned in and showed me a video he’d been watching from his cellphone. “UGH, he is just so SEXY,” Ed declared in admiration. The “he” Ed was referring to was a young African-American man who appeared to be between 21-25 years old.

The man in the video sat in a dark room, surrounded by thick smoke. The only source of light in the video came from Ed’s cellphone and the orange & blue flame that flickered and danced wildly beneath the meth pipe the man was smoking on.

His pupils were dilated as sweat poured from his face profusely. The man deeply inhaled the contents of the pipe as the excess smoke billowed through a small opening at the top of the pipe. “Is he smoking meth?” I asked, flooded with confusion. It was a rhetorical question. As someone with five and a half years of abstinence from meth, I’m aware of what it looks like and how it’s used. “He’s gorgeous…” was the only response I received. He remained fixated on the video –smiling in absolute awe.

That moment stayed between Ed and I. It was odd, unexpected, and something I never mentioned to anyone else because I felt other people’s kinks were not my business (although he made it mine that night). I also didn’t want to speak ill of one of the biggest political donors in California. I attempted to block the bizarre occurrence out of my mind as “that thing that never happened.”

The unfortunate fact is that it did happen. The worst part of it all is that someone lost their life over Buck’s drug fueled obsession. I’m disappointed that respectability politics have framed Moore’s life as dispensable. He was written off as an unfortunate addict who overdosed, while Buck maintains a pristine reputation and support from apologists who maintain that he’s the victim of such tragedy.

Related: For Black Sex Workers, The Deck Is Already Stacked Against Us

Moore didn’t break into Buck’s condo and overdose on meth while Ed was at Whole Foods shopping for Kale and Vitamin Water. It’s customary for Ed to hire black male escorts and pay them to heavily sate themselves with meth as he records them and pleasures himself.

Just because Moore was an escort who was under the influence does not absolve Buck from liability. Moore was flown into town and brought directly to Buck’s home. I doubt that on his flight into LA Moore smuggled meth past the TSA, let alone enough to overdose on.

There’s no doubt in my mind the drugs found in his system were supplied by Buck so he could fulfill his fantasy of getting Moore high beyond his limits while engaging in a host of fetishes. Buck also smokes meth and occasionally shoots up and alludes to this in his Adam4Adam profile.

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Buck’s fatal fetishization teeters on the cusp of snuff. The thought of Buck pleasuring himself as Moore took his last breath is deeply disturbing. What’s all the more disturbing is the willingness of cis-hetero black folks who may not agree with Moore’s sexuality, and city officials who’ve accepted money from Buck in the past to look the other way.

Moore’s death is centered around power dynamics, a wealthy white politico and his deadly fetishization of disenfranchised black men. Moore’s vulnerability and inability to free himself from an economically sunken place awakened Buck’s predatory instincts. Exploiting sex workers who are jobless (in the traditional sense), homeless, poverty stricken and chronically addicted adds four more inches to Buck’s erections.

Related: You Can’t Say Black Lives Matter Without Including Black Sex Workers

Such form of racial fetishization is a modern day version of “buck breaking” (no pun intended). Instead of whips and chains, the “master” now employs needles and pipes to bring his slaves into submission. Buck’s obsession with destroying black bodies for his own pleasure is an extension of colonial imperialism.

For members of the gay white elite, humiliating, objectifying and dehumanizing gay/bi black men has become akin to the hunting of wild game. It’s yet another way of reinforcing supremacy. When the elite run out of things to conquer, they conquer people.

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Black gay/bi men are not sexual experiments. They aren’t boxes for white gays to check off on their fantasy bucket-lists, and they deserve to be seen as more than sexual props and porn principles. Just as importantly, sex workers are not “deserving” of death — nor is it okay to victim blame/shame those who’ve met such a tragic fate as Moore’s.

Flip the script and imagine if it were Ed who was found dead in his home and a black male escort were at the scene when the West Hollywood Sheriffs arrived. How would authorities have responded? Would main stream media have covered it? Would the headlines have been as forgiving? Would officials have felt more comfortable making statements? These are questions many of us know the answer to.

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We need to face it, corrupt police officers aren’t the only danger to black men. White, monied politico’s are contributing to their deaths as well. Buck hasn’t responded to media requests for comment at this time. He doesn’t really need to– actions speak louder than words.

The opinions, views, and perspective shared in this here within are mine and do not reflect those of the Stonewall Democratic Club. When contacted for comment, Stonewall released the following statement:

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For those who feel inclined to support Gemmel Moore’s family with funeral costs, please visit the link below:

https://www.gofundme.com/rip-gemmel-juelz-moore

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Ashlee Marie Preston is Editor in Chief of "Wear Your Voice" magazine. Outside of her role at WYV, she is a Diversity Speaker, Media Advocate, and Transgender activist. Ashlee Marie is Secretary, Chair of Communications, and Executive Committee member of the Transgender Service Provider Network of Los Angeles. She is also a board member of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, the Imperial Court of Hollywood/Los Angeles, and is Chair for both Communications and Media Sponsorship for LA Pride. Ashlee Marie is Chair of Special Events & Vice-Chair on Trans Issues with the Stonewall Democratic Club, and is Dinner Gala Table-Captain Co-Chair & a Community Outreach member for the Human Rights Campaign. She is the Lead Advisor for the Gender Odyssey Los Angeles Conference and is on the board of directors for TransCanWork LLC & Mirror Memoirs. In addition to serving the community, Ashlee Marie produces creative content & documentary films that speak to the narrative of marginalized communities. She is a regular feature in BuzzFeed's LGBTQ+ media and hopes that someday her visibility will shift our social ecology in a way that affords Trans individuals greater opportunities. Ashlee Marie was Miss Quest 2016 (APAIT), recipient of the "Connie Norman Advocacy Award" & the "Community Empowerment Award". She received recognition from the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission for her role in the Transgender Civic Engagement Leadership pilot and was listed as one of PopSugar's 40 Most Influential LGBTQ People of 2017.

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