Bayard Rustin, an African-American scholar from eastern Pennsylvania, was on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He was a key organizer of bus segregation demonstrations in the South, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the March on Washington, where he scheduled Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and drilled police officers on nonviolent crowd control.
Rustin was also gay. And his story is among those that have inspired an effort to build a national museum in Washington dedicated to the history of gay, lesbian and transgender people.
Organizers, led by former Smithsonian researcher Tim Gold and his husband, North Carolina furniture magnate Mitchell Gold, are raising money and collecting artifacts to open a national gay history museum to tell the stories of LGBT Americans at a time when gay rights were frequently a matter of political and cultural debate.