Homosexuality is a sickness, just as are baby-rape or wanting to become head of General Motors. ~Eldridge Cleaver, “Notes on a Native Son,” Soul on Ice, 1968
I recently came across this gem of a quote by Eldridge Cleaver and have begun to read Soul on Ice. I have not finished by any means, and as such will reserve final judgment until the end. But so far it has been possibly the oddest read of all times. It has insane range. It varies from brutally honest introspective analysis to preachy ivory tower judgments of others. It varies from oblivious and cocky to self aware and humble. It may be the most offensive thing I’ve ever read (that was not intended as hate speech) towards both women and gays. But at the same time he is very aware of his misogyny and understands his hatred is misdirected. He admits to raping multiple women and practice on girls from the ghetto. There are no direct references really, but it is well known he killed several people over the course of his life.
The book was extremely popular in the 60s, he was a revolutionary (literally and figuratively) and was considered a significant civil rights figure. But his idea of civil rights was extremely limited. He notoriously switched religions at his convenience and after each conversion was a fierce proponent of that religion and its accompanying doctrine. I think if he came forward in our politically correct world and tried to step up as a civil rights leader, he would be a laughing stock. An angry, violent ex con with a disposition towards sexism and homophobia telling us how the world should be equal. Equal for black men at least, all the while flip flopping on religion and trying to assist international revolutions.
As it is with all the crazies, I admire his passion. I am looking forward to finishing his book, and to researching him further. Maybe there is a movie!