Picture“The Proof that one truly believes is in action” -Bayard Rustin (1912 – 1987)

“F@#k No!”
I remember saying this to myself after I saw the documentary “Brother Outsider” years ago. I simply could not believe an open gay black man, from back in the day (back in the day meaning 40s-60s) was just so…OPEN! This man was intelligent, well spoken, handsome, a poet, writer, football player, singer and very active in the civil rights movement…and dammit he was black gay and proud. I simply couldn’t believe it. I was pissed because I never heard of this man until I was 30 years old. He didn’t fit any of the stereotypes white or black media had put in front of me concerning homosexuality (well maybe a couple but who really cares in this case) and I never heard of him in relation to the civil rights movement. What the f@#k?!

My pissed-offedness (yes I know that is not a word) changed to admiration and joy when the legacy fully set in of what had been hidden from me my whole life. Bayard Rustin was one bad muthafucka who fought for civil rights for all Americans. Understand this…If it were not for Bayard Rustin, chances are you would have never heard Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Why…because Mr. Bayard Rustin organized the ENTIRE march on Washington! Yes, this gay black brother handled his business. As we celebrate the unveiling of the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington DC, I personally will have a moment of silence for Bayard Rustin.

So as the black masses hate on homosexuality, we will know the truth; which is that America owes a lot of the civil rights movement and it’s victories to Bayard Rustin.

PictureBelow is a brief bio about Mr. Rustin from the website dedicated to him http://rustin.org

A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.

Despite these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Five years in the making and the winner of numerous awards, BROTHER OUTSIDER presents a feature-length documentary portrait, focusing on Rustin’s activism for peace, racial equality, economic justice and human rights.

Today, the United States is still struggling with many of the issues Bayard Rustin sought to change during his long, illustrious career. His focus on civil and economic rights and his belief in peace, human rights and the dignity of all people remain as relevant today as they were in the 1950s and 60s.

Rustin’s biography is particularly important for lesbian and gay Americans, highlighting the major contributions of a gay man to ending official segregation in America. Rustin stands at the confluence of the great struggles for civil, legal and human rights by African-Americans and lesbian and gay Americans. In a nation still torn by racial hatred and violence, bigotry against homosexuals, and extraordinary divides between rich and poor, his eloquent voice is needed today.

In February 1956, when Bayard Rustin arrived in Montgomery to assist with the nascent bus boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr. had not personally embraced nonviolence. In fact, there were guns inside King’s house, and armed guards posted at his doors. Rustin persuaded boycott leaders to adopt complete nonviolence, teaching them Gandhian nonviolent direct protest.

Apart from his career as an activist, Rustin the man was also fun-loving, mischievous, artistic, gifted with a fine singing voice, and known as an art collector who sometimes found museum-quality pieces in New York City trash. Historian John D’Emilio calls Rustin the “lost prophet” of the civil rights movement.


Since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and its national broadcasts on PBS’ P.O.V. series and on Logo/MTV, Brother Outsider has introduced millions of viewers around the world to the life and work of Bayard Rustin—a visionary strategist and activist who has been called “the unknown hero” of the civil rights movement.
A disciple of Gandhi, a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., and the architect of the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin dared to live as an openly gay man during the fiercely homophobic 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

UPDATE: August 2013

Rustin was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by President Barack Obama.  This award is the highest Presidential award that a civilian can receive.  This Civil Rights hero and icon absolutely deserves it.

– Octavius