Do you know Bayard Rustin’s legacy?
Rustin was not only the architect of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington in 1963 and a genius in planning nonviolent protests, but also a mastermind at legal maneuvering in his personal life.
Rustin introduced King to the rules of nonviolence during the Montgomery bus boycott, which helped plant the seed for the Civil Rights Movement; however, because Rustin was gay, he remained in the shadows for the sake of the movement, and was sacrificed by its leaders as a political liability.
Rustin and Walter Naegle were an intergenerational love story. They met in 1977. Rustin was 65, and Naegle was 27.
Rustin and Naegle were a couple more than 40 years before marriage equality was conceivable, but they wanted to legalize their relationship to have the rights afforded to heterosexual couples. They found that legal protection, such as being allowed hospital visitation or inheriting a deceased partner’s estate, in adoption. In 1982, Rustin adopted Naegle.