Bayard Rustin

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Bayard Rustin, the Almost Forgotten, Gay Civil Rights Hero

Bayard Rustin

Buzzfeed contributor Steven Thrasher has written an extensive biography of the gay man who organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and co-organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He details the life of the man who was instrumental in forwarding equality, first for the black community and then for the gay community. There is simply far too much to summarize here and it is a must-read for anyone not familiar with this important figure in the movement for equality.

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  1. Steven Thrasher, for one, is a wonderful WONDERFUL man and an incredible writer. And Rustin is a bonafide hero.

    read on, keep his name alive. this man opened the doors for us.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 28, 2013 8:51:14 PM


  2. Rustin, the movie, should be played by either Blair Underwood or Taye Diggs.

    Posted by: Manny Espinola | Aug 28, 2013 9:49:52 PM


  3. More awesome news. I love it.

    Posted by: Mel Smith | Aug 28, 2013 10:14:13 PM


  4. And, as of August 8, 2013, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

    Posted by: Gregory in Seattle | Aug 28, 2013 11:16:24 PM


  5. OF COURSE he is "forgotten"....you cannot say anything negative about him

    Posted by: Shannon | Aug 28, 2013 11:20:52 PM


  6. @ Gregory in Seattle:

    Bayard Rustin posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, The highest civilian award an American receive. The Congressional medal of Honor is a military award.

    Posted by: Dearcomrade | Aug 28, 2013 11:59:34 PM


  7. "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin" is a 2003 PBS documentary that chronicles Rustins life.

    It is available on PBS online and on Netflix Instant Streaming. I highly recommend it.

    Posted by: Dearcomrade | Aug 29, 2013 12:06:10 AM


  8. "There are four burdens, which gays, along with every other despised group, whether it's blacks following slavery and reconstruction, or Jews fearful of Germany, must address.

    The first is recognize one must overcome fear.

    The second is overcoming self-hate.

    The third is overcoming self-denial.

    The fourth is more political. It is to recognize that the job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That's our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest anti-gay sentiment".

    Bayard Rustin
    From Montgomery To Stonewall 1986

    Posted by: Dearcomrade | Aug 29, 2013 12:08:31 AM


  9. "OF COURSE he is "forgotten"....you cannot say anything negative about him"

    @Shannon, Bayard was involved in interracial relationships. For a movement which prided itself on making sure that 'the right kind of moral people' were at the forefront, Bayard having a taste for much younger white male students was dangerous. Especially since he was arrested for it, once. Bayard was lucky he was an intellectual instead of, say, a single mother. His scholarship granted him certain protections. I don't know what that means, that a degree can serve as a moral plus, and can make someone more tolerable when all else is equal.

    Was Bayard ever involved with black men, or men his own age?

    Posted by: Zeta | Aug 29, 2013 3:22:44 AM


  10. Rustin was also "openly" socialist, pacifist, and a labor organizer. In 1963, that's four strikes and you're out as the public face of the movement. Times haven't changed that much.

    Posted by: melvin | Aug 29, 2013 6:38:50 AM


  11. Rustin was also "openly" socialist, pacifist, and a labor organizer. In 1963, that's four strikes and you're out as the public face of the movement. Times haven't changed that much.

    Posted by: melvin | Aug 29, 2013 6:38:50 AM


  12. Was Bayard ever involved with black men, or men his own age?

    Posted by: Zeta | Aug 29, 2013 3:22:44 AM

    Looks like more of Zeta's racist hatred toward nonwhite people again.

    Posted by: ATEZ | Aug 29, 2013 8:26:01 AM


  13. @Zeta...many black men during Rustin's time dated white men. It was very difficult for an openly gay black man to find another openly gay black man. I have spoken to many of the few elder black gay men that I know that speak of the trials of trying to be out and date especially other black men who were extremely closeted. They dated who were available. Now, some of them did just prefer to date exclusively white men, but many of them just had few options. Now, I personally will date the United Colors of Benetton. I date all openly gay men.

    Posted by: THurts | Aug 29, 2013 10:11:22 AM


  14. Thanks for this link. Bayard Rustin is a true hero who should never be forgotten, and the more articles, books, films that can recognize his contribution, the better. I also encourage people to watch "Brother Outsider" and keep the memory alive. The March very probably never would have come off -- or at least we wouldn't be recognizing its enduring significance 50 years later -- without Rustin's efforts.

    Posted by: SoLeftImRight | Aug 29, 2013 10:50:12 AM


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