About The Author
Hassan Hartley, a.k.a. "Brother Hassan", is a college educated writer born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, who embarked upon the journey of discovering the nuances of human sexuality among black men primarily as a result of his own journey to self acceptance and awareness. Having been a college student at Tuskegee University, a former member of the Nation of Islam, and having served time in a Virginia Correctional facility, his own life mirrors much of the complexity of black men and sexual identity politics discussed in this book.
Struggling with his own sexual identity in the early 1990's when images of black gay men were all but non-existent in any media format, Brother Hassan lived in two worlds at the same time: One, a world of strict discipline in the Nation of Islam, where he hoped to one day become a Minister in the mold of Malcolm X or Minister Louis Farrakhan. The other world, that of a same gender loving man in complete denial about his desires for men in an organization not known for being anywhere resembling sympathetic to gays and lesbians.
Hassan's entire world was absorbed in the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, while his desires for men grew gradually stronger and stronger throughout his teenage years and into adulthood. As a teenager, he joined the Black Muslim sect and became a part of the Fruit Of Islam, the name given to the military training of men who belong to the Nation Of Islam in North America.
Brother Hassan joined a group within the Fruit of Islam in Chicago known as the Taskforce, a squad of young men ages 16-25 who were being groomed to rise in leadership in the Nation Of Islam for its future. Having joined the N.O.I. at its headquarters in Chicago, he frequently saw, met, and heard Minister Farrakhan and even traveled with the Taskforce to provide security for the Nation Of Islam leader. A shy, timid and quiet teenager, Bro. Hassan felt overwhelmed by such nearness to so much going on in such a controversial organization, but eventually adapted.
After graduating from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Brother Hassan moved south to the prestigious Tuskegee University, where he would study for the next 5 years Political Science and Business Administration.
An internal scandal within the Nation Of Islam's own headquarters in March, 1993 involving Hassan's squad, the Taskforce, culminated in a suicide of a top lieutenant in the squad, as well as the revelation that nearly two dozen young men within the same squad were allegedly involved in homosexual activity with each other. Those that were not excommunicated from the organization for Fornication and Sodomy, left the Nation Of Islam before they could stand trial in the Nation of Islam's stringent Restrictive Laws of Conduct. Brother Hassan, ironically, was not involved in any of these activities, despite his own sexual orientation becoming clearer to him as years passed. The scandal was kept out of the media, for obvious reasons.
In August 1994, Hassan was awarded a partial scholarship from Minister Farrakhan personally to assist in his college tuition and studies. After a bloody, near-fatal, and tumultuous split with the Nation of Islam in November 1994, however, Bro. Hassan came to terms with his sexuality, although he would wander deeper and deeper into a 7 year chasm of criminal activity that culminated in a 3 year prison sentence in Virginia. During this time, Hassan began not only began the arduous process of self correction, but studying those black men around him who were at different levels in their awareness of their own sexuality, and thus the basis of this book was born.
Hassan's research would not only extend to those around him in prison while incarcerated, but to those in many other prisons all over the United States after his release in August 2006. With the help of correctional officers that bent more than a few rules to allow him to interview inmates, internet websites designed to establish pen pal relationships with inmates, and other useful tools, he interviewed thousands of inmates in a 6 year period, confirming some theses he already had, and being enlightened on others. This book is Volume 1 of that research, and proves to be controversial, enlightening, entertaining and revealing, much like its author, Brother Hassan.
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