‘Rustin’ photos show Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin

Netflix has released images from the upcoming biopic “Rustin,” including several photos of Emmy-Award-winning actor Colman Domingo, who identifies as gay, who plays Bayard Rustin, the openly gay civil rights titan.

The film, directed by George C. Wolfe (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), follows Rustin’s life.

“The architect of 1963’s momentous March on Washington, Bayard Rustin was one of the greatest activists and organizers the world has ever known. He challenged authority, never apologized for who he was, what he believed, or who he desired. And he did not back down. He made history, and in turn, he was forgotten,” a Netflix description says.

“ ‘Rustin’ shines a long overdue spotlight on the extraordinary man who, alongside giants like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Ella Baker, dared to imagine a different world, and inspired a movement in a march toward freedom,” according to the description.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was mentored by Bayard Rustin – a gay civil rights pioneer

Rustin, who died in 1987, was a monumental and vital figure in the early civil rights movement in the mid-20th century. He practiced nonviolent resistance and participated in the Freedom Rides.

He was the architect of Martin Luther King Jr’s 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs, the historic rally where King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Rustin Colman Domingo

Colman Domingo stars as Bayard Rustin in the Netflix biopic “Rustin.” Photo: Parrish Lewis/Netflix

Barack Obama awarded Rustin a Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2013.

Rustin was arrested January 21, 1953, in Pasadena, and convicted of “vagrancy” for violating a morality offense that was often used to discriminate against and criminalize LGBTQ and black communities, but has been repealed.

At the time, homosexuality was not only still classified as a mental illness, but also illegal in many parts of the nation. Members of the LGBTQ community also were persecuted under various morality codes in many states, including California.

Rustin was arrested for having consensual sex with two white men in a parked car, but the white men were not arrested. After the arrest, he was convicted, served 50 days in jail, and was forced to register as a sex offender.

Rustin was posthumously pardoned by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020 for the more than 70-year-old “vagrancy” conviction.

The film features an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, Jeffrey Wright, and Audra McDonald.

Julian Breece and Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black wrote the screenplay based on a story by Breece.

“Rustin” premieres on Netflix Nov. 17 — the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The film will hit theaters on Nov. 3.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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