Bayard & me

16 minutes

How a once overlooked civil-rights leader became an icon of gay marriage equality

In the 1980s, the US activist Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) adopted his younger longtime partner Walter Naegle, a strategy that gay couples employed as the only means to share civil and legal protections at a time of state-sanctioned discrimination. It was not, however, the first time that Rustin was at the forefront of a social struggle. After studying Gandhian methods of nonviolent resistance during a trip to India in 1948, he helped to teach the principles to Martin Luther King Jr, and to organise the March on Washington in 1963. Despite being a leading organiser and strategist in the fight for racial equality from 1955 to 1968, Rustin was a somewhat unsung civil-rights hero during his life, largely because he was openly gay. As recounted by Naegle, Bayard & Me explores how Rustin’s legacy, which intersected with the two of the biggest civil-rights struggles in US history, was cemented posthumously by LGBT activists who recognised him as a pioneer in the fight for marriage equality.

Director: Matt Wolf

Producer: Brendan Doyle

Website: Super Deluxe

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter Sign up
Follow us on
Facebook
Like

‘Aeon is consistently the place to find excellent, provocative and thoughtful writing.

One of my favourite places to find new writers and new ideas.’

Professor Sophie Kerttu Scott, University College London

‘Every morning I look forward to seeing what’s in your email and there isn’t a day that goes by without reading or watching something you guys have published.

It’s like an oasis of sanity in a world gone mad.’

Jack D, USA, Friend of Aeon

‘Aeon’s combination of intelligence, integrity and flair is vanishingly rare – and I am very grateful for it. It is becoming an indispensable presence in the digital world for those who believe that ideas matter.’

Tom Chatfield, writer and commentator on digital culture

‘Aeon is always providing great, thought-provoking content, and it would be a crime for me to not donate to a service that I use daily.’

Jarry A, Canada, Friend of Aeon

‘I read one article and decided that I wanted to support an organisation that promotes critical thinking around ideas that affect our everyday lives.’

John T, Canada, Friend of Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.
But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Essay/
Mental Health
Temperamentally blessed

Just one in five people will be lucky enough to avoid mental health problems throughout their life. How do they do it?

Elizabeth Svoboda

Essay/
Mental Health
The usefulness of dread

My anxiety has been lifelong but I would not wish it away. It has made me the philosopher – and person – that I am today

Samir Chopra