I have an interview with Bert Stabler about an art project about Michael Jackson which he did with his Chicago high school students. Here’s an excerpt:
What was their take on his child abuse scandal and on his sexuality?
Bert Stabler: Few students seemed positive that he was guilty. Several seemed convinced of his innocence. The overall opinion was uncertainty, though there was a general agreement that, by inviting children to sleep at his house, that he was certainly leaving himself open to accusations, and, equally, that the guardians of those children were so culpable in their permissiveness as to have their motives appear suspicious.
The gay issue was interesting – a few students questioned whether he had fathered his children, but, for the most part, he was assumed to be straight. However, the possibility of his sexual deviance was never dismissed outright, but was frequently contextualized in terms of his traumatic childhood. His overall deviance in appearance and mannerisms was equated with deviant behavior by some, but not everyone– intriguingly, one student did claim that Jackson was a “faggot,” but not homosexual.