Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

Marvin Sr. "Enjoying the Whole Thing"

Marvin Gaye, young
Marvin Gaye, young

"It wasn't simply that my father beat me, though that was bad enough," Gaye said. "He'd say, 'Boy, you're going to get a whipping.' Then he'd tell me to take off my clothes and send me to the bedroom... It wouldn't have been so awful if he had hit me right away. But father liked mind games. He'd play with me. He'd make me wait an hour, or even more, all the while jangling his belt buckle loud enough so I could hear... When he finally struck me, I knew — children know these things — that something inside him was enjoying the whole thing."

Marvin, Sr. was the antithesis of the macho stereotype of an abusive man. He was trim and effeminate and often dressed in women's blouses and wigs.

As Marvin, Jr. told Ritz, "My father likes to wear women's clothing... To tell you the truth, I have the same fascination with women's clothes. In my case, that has nothing to do with any attraction for men. Sexually, men don't interest me. But seeing myself as a woman is something that intrigues me. It's also something I fear. I indulge myself only at the most discreet and intimate moments. Afterward I must bear the guilt and shame for weeks."

The writer asked Alberta whether her husband was homosexual.

"I'm not certain," she said. "I do know that five of his siblings were homosexual. And it's true that he liked soft clothing... He liked to wear my panties, my shoes, my gowns, even my nylon hose."

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