Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK And Gay Rights


I was unsure of what to post, if anything, about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today. I mean what could I say that hasn't already been said? The man has had a massive influence on the way Americans, and the world, thinks about race, poverty, class and social justice. But what of gay rights? It's clear what his late wife thought about the gays, but what about King himself?

CNN.com has an interesting article about the subject, including a letter an anonymous boy sent to King in 1958:

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was writing an advice column in 1958 for Ebony magazine when he received an unusual letter.



“I am a boy,” an anonymous writer told King. “But I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don't want my parents to know about me. What can I do?”


In calm, pastoral tones, King told the boy that his problem wasn’t uncommon, but required “careful attention.”


“The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired,” King wrote. “You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”


Yet King would have been a champion of gay rights today because of his view of Christianity, says Michael Long, author of, “I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters,” who shared the story of King’s Ebony letter.

“Dr. King never publicly welcomed gays at the front gate of his beloved community. But he did leave behind a key for them - his belief that each person is sacred, free and equal to all to others,” says Long, also author of the upcoming “Keeping it straight? Martin Luther King, Jr., Homosexuality, and Gay Rights.”

Ravi Perry, a political science professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, said King’s widow once said in a public speech that everyone who believed in her husband’s dream should “make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.”



There is no private or public record of King condemning gay people, Perry says. Even the FBI’s surveillance of King’s private phone conversations didn’t turn up any moment where King disparaged gay people, she says.


“If Dr. King were anti-gay, there would likely be a sermon, a speech, a recording of some kind indicating such,” she says. “And knowing how closely his phones were tapped; surely there would be a record of such statements.”

The article also mentions King's daughter Bernice, who infamously marched against gay marriage with Bishop Eddie Long, Coretta Scott King's support of LGBT rights, and openly gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, and his influence on King and the movement. Read HERE.






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