ronkempmusic

Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Gay Rights = Civil Rights: Remembering Bayard Rustin

leave a comment »


I heard this story on “In the Life” maybe 10 years ago.  Then, it was placed right back on a hanger and put back in the closet.  It couldn’t have resurfaced at a more significant time.  For as far as we’ve come, we do still have work to do.  More importantly, it’s crucial, in this day of rampant LGBT teen suicides, for the young people to understand that they truly ARE part of the fabric of this world, that their contributions have the potential of being significant.

Bayard RustinBayard Rustin is a name to remember. (even though I’d forgotten the name for the past 10 years, I always remembered the story)  For as much as Dr. Martin Luther King was the face of the 60s civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin was the architect who made it all come together…and, work.  It was Dr. King’s vehicle, but it was Bayard Rustin’s well-designed road it traveled on its way to prominence.

Stories of Rustin’s homosexuality began to surface in 1960 forcing King and the Civil Rights movement to part ways with him.  To their thinking, exposure would certainly derail their uber-important efforts.  Unfortunately, they were probably right.  But, by 1963, Rustin had resurfaced with the Civil Rights movement, albeit more behind the scene, and went on to architect what we now know as the 1963 Freedom March on Washington which gave birth to the timeless “I Have A Dream” speech by Dr. King.

Why is this important?  Well, for one, I believe that it is crucial for young LGBT teens to understand that we DO have a voice, that we ARE important, and that their own lives ARE definitely worth living.  Seeing the accomplishments of Bayard Rustin, and the universal importance of his efforts should inspire anyone, especially a confused and questioning LGBT teen.  Without Bayard Rustin, Dr. King’s rise to legendary leader of peace may have never happened.

Of equal importance to me at least, as an older black and gay man, is the realization that the Civil Rights movement of yesterday and the Gay Rights movement of today are one and the same.  Intertwined.  I recently read a comment saying, basically, that the black community had taken issue with people linking the two together.  Quickly, I responded.  Paraphrased, I told them that they are absolutely the same fight.  More to the point, it’s the same fight against the same establishment.  What this means is that, for all of our gains we’ve experienced over the past decade (and, certainly, over the past 18-24 months), we still have a ton of work to do.  The battle is not won.  Not yet.  Then again, neither is the one for racial equality, proving that we must continue to press forward and fight those who would delight in seeing us all locked back in the closet.  That way, they can go back to pretending that we don’t exist.

I guess the message here is that we all, whether we’re straight, LGBT, black, white, green, or Venusian, have a voice and a contribution to make to the well-being of our society.  Bayard Rustin’s contributions will resonate forever.

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 607 other followers

%d bloggers like this: