If MLK were alive today, where would he stand on the issue of gay rights and same-sex marriage?
In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. was writing advice columns for Ebony magazine. He received a letter from a young boy asking MLK’s advice about how to deal with his feelings towards other little boys. MLK responded that the issues was not an uncommon one but his problem was influenced by cultural factors rather than biological. He also stated that the boy was “on the right road towards a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it”. But what did MLK mean by these words. Did he mean the boy should be truthful and honest about being gay or take corrective action to rid himself of his desires?
We’ll never know what MLK truly felt about the issue but I wonder if he ever linked the struggle for gay rights with his own struggles for black rights?
MLK was certainly a close friend with Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man and influential leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Rustin worked together with MLK and was a key organizer in the 1963 March on Washington. He also advised King to give his “I have a dream” speech last on the program, ensuring its impact would be widely felt by all who listened. Rustin also became one of the movements most diligent proponent of non-violence. We know that King accepted Rustin despite his being gay. When many calls were brought forth to exclude Rustin during the March on Washington, King resisted these in order to have Rustin attend.
There’s no doubt that King respected Rustin and was friends and allies with him during the Civil Rights. Maybe, King would be an advocate of gay rights today, but maybe he saw that his mission for black rights, civil rights, was what America needed first and he was unwilling to stretch his agenda to include gays at the time because he felt it would drive his cause to the fringe and turn supporters away.