As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of equality, IN THE LIFE, the only national LGBT issue-oriented television program, looks back at inspiring interviews with LGBT people and allies “who stood up, spoke out and made a difference in the fight for full LGBT equality.” Public television stations across the country will begin airing “First Class Citizens,” an episode honoring pioneers in the pursuit of LGBT equality. The episode highlights the contributions of openly lesbian African American Hon. Judge Deborah Batts, former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, and former National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) President Keith Boykin. (Watch the entire episode below.)
In a conversation filmed in 2008 with Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capeheart and Julian Bond, Bond reflected on the contributions of openly gay civil rights advocate Bayard Rustin and his influence on Dr. King:
He was a seminal figure in this movement because King depended on Bayard for so many things. He was King’s first educator in non-violence and he just expanded King’s knowledge of this hundredfold. Bayard wrote the first article published under King’s name. To say he organized the March on Washington really doesn’t give him enough credit.
Bond went on to talk about how the late Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s wife, was a strong LGBT advocate. “Her advocacy in these things is relatively unknown,” he continued. “She was in many ways a remarkable person.”
In response to a question about the connection between race and sexual orientation, Bond responded, “At the bottom it’s these immutable characteristics. You are what you are. And you cannot be discriminated against, in this country, for what you are.” He went on the emphasize that the Civil Rights Movement and the LGBT movement “draw from each other” in a way that other movements like the Latino movement, women’s movement and labor movement drew tactics and slogans from one another. “[The black community] ought to be proud of this,” he said in the clip. “We created a model that other people have followed and they followed it successfully.”
GLAAD commemorates Dr. King’s legacy and how it lives on in the movement for equality for all.