Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. An activist in the peace, civil rights, and labor movements, Rustin is best known as the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, when over 200,000 Americans demonstrated in support of civil rights and jobs for all. A Quaker and proponent of Gandhian non-violence, Rustin tutored Martin Luther King, Jr., in the philosophy of non-violence and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A gay man in an era when almost no one was openly gay, Rustin often had to work behind-the-scenes, and he was attacked publicly by people like Senator Strom Thurmond, a white segregationist senator from South Carolina, as a “sexual pervert.” By the 1980s, Rustin was speaking out in favor of gay rights, and helped win passage of a gay rights bill in NYC. He died in 1987.