Two Black men have died at the West Hollywood home of a prominent Democratic Party donor in separate incidents in the past two years. Methamphetamine overdose was announced by the coroner as the cause of death in both cases.
On January 7, 55-year old Tim Dean arrived at Ed Buck’s home in West Hollywood. Shortly afterwards, he stopped breathing and died from what authorities term an “accidental methamphetamine overdose.” Although the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department is not releasing more information at this time, the incident is reminiscent of the death of Gemmel Moore in July 2017 in similar circumstances.
The deaths occurred in the context of a trend of older gay white men exploiting and violating Black gay men within the Party ‘n’ Play (PnP) scene.
Buck has been accused of exploiting and endangering Moore, who had been homeless and was a sex worker. Moore wrote in his journal, “Ed Buck is the one to thank [for my addiction to meth]. He gave me my first injection of chrystal [sic] meth.”
Latasha Nixon, Moore’s mother, who posted photographs of pages from his journal to Facebook, recounted what Moore told her shortly before he died in a recent documentary titled parTy boi, black diamonds in ice castles, which explores PnP in the Black gay male community.
“‘I’ve been dealing with this guy [Buck],'” Nixon says Moore told her. “‘He has a lot of money. He does a lot of things to me. I don’t like what he does but he gives me a lot of money and I really need the money. I’m not working. He has me dress up in white long-johns and he takes pictures of me. . . He just likes to take pictures of black men in long johns. White long johns. And he likes to smoke meth and shoot you up with meth.’”
Activist Jasmyne Cannick, who has worked with Moore’s family and conducted her own investigation into the death—as well as spoken with other men who have had experiences with Buck—suggests that Buck has a “Tuskegee Experiment-like fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men who he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites.”
Photographs allegedly taken in Ed Buck’s home, of an anonymous boxer-clad Black man raising his hands in front of a US flag, were posted on Twitter after Dean’s death was made public. Tariq Nasheed, the Twitter user who posted the photos, calls the images examples of “Slave Play, where racial gutter sex is promoted and trivialized.” The pose evokes the “Hands up” gesture demanded by police.
“The deaths of Gemmel Moore and another un-named Black man [now known to be Tim Dean] at Ed Buck’s home, has triggered a deep wound in Black Gay communities. It’s a scenario that reeks of the continued predatory and racist behaviors we often experience at the hands of many white gay men in and out of the PnP scene,” Yolo Akili Robinson, founder and CEO of Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM), tells Filter.
In parTy boi, an interviewee named Michael shares how he was introduced to meth by a wealthy white man. According to Michael, the man offered him large sums of money to fulfill his “fetish”: “to fuck his [drug] dealer.” When Michael took the man up on the offer, he was given “do-rags,” a “gold grille,” “three pounds of crystal,” and a list of the man’s friends, along with instructions to “fuck them and give them shit [crystal meth].”
Michael recognizes the power imbalance that comes when “wealthy, rich Park Avenue white motherfuckers” (as they’re referred to by another interviewee) exchange meth for sex with Black men. The “white man knows that people who are giving themselves away know that they can’t afford it [meth],” says another interviewee, “and this is the only way they can afford it.”
“When you get there,” Michael recounts, referring to hook-ups usually mediated by apps like Grindr, Scruff, or Adam4Adam, “you think you’ve got them wrapped around your finger because you are this Black boy with a big dick. No, he got you wrapped around his finger because you think that.” Michael adds, “You’re thinking that you’re getting over on this white man, and he just handed you a Sprite with GHB in it.”
Neither the death of Gemmel Moore nor that of Tim Dean has been pursued as a homicide case by law enforcement. Robinson points to “the lack of accountability that falls on white gay men when they harm Black queer bodies.” And the director of parTy boi, Micheal Rice, says, “It sickens me that this predator has been allowed to once again take another Black life without criminal charges.”
Protesters have gathered outside of Buck’s West Hollywood home, chanting “Arrest him now,” “Black lives matter,” “It’s a death chamber,” “This is a cemetery” and “Black boys are dying here, nothing’s happening,” as reported by the Daily Beast.
Politicians are also responding. US Representative Ted Lieu announced that he would be donating over $18,000 that he’s received from Buck over the years to non-profits including the Trevor Project and the NAACP. At least five other Democratic politicians have also returned or donated donations they’ve received from Buck.
A criminal investigation into the deaths remains ongoing.
Image via MarketWatch