Those African-American ministers in Massachusetts who deny any link between the black civil rights movement and the movement toward same-sex marriage are running back into a dank closet of yesteryear. These ministers who want to stuff today's gay and lesbian couples into separate and unequal compartments of commitment have forgotten how the civil rights movement forced Bayard Rustin, one of the movement's greatest theorists, to make himself invisible because he was gay.
During the Montgomery bus boycott, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was constantly worried about Rustin's presence in the movement, especially among ministers "among whom tolerance for homosexuals was shunned as the wedge of evil," wrote Taylor Branch in "Parting the Waters." On one occasion, King invited Rustin down to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church for a strategy session.
But King's "desire to hide Rustin from practically everyone was so strong that he asked him to fly into Birmingham instead of Montgomery. Bob Williams met Rustin there and put him face down in the back seat of his car. King's instructions were that Rustin was not to raise his head until the car was parked safely at the Dexter parsonage."
Rustin paid his dues in the movement. He was arrested off a freedom ride in 1947 and put on a chain gang. He was jailed and lost some front teeth in a beating in New Orleans. A true disciple of Gandhian nonviolence and Quaker pacifism, Rustin reacted to a man who threatened to beat him with a stick by handing the man an additional stick. Rustin invited the man to commence the beating. The stunned man ran off to beat someone else. [ complete article ]
Posted by ronn at February 14, 2004 12:52 AM