Openly gay, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin was 'Brother Outsider'

From Staff Reports
Black Mountain News USA TODAY NETWORK
"Bayard had nerve," recalls Dorothy Jackson, his childhood friend and neighbor in Rustin's hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

During his 60-year career as an activist, organizer and "troublemaker," Bayard Rustin formulated many of the strategies that propelled the American civil rights movement. A film about his work, "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin," illuminates the life of the visionary activist and strategist who has been called "the unknown hero" of the civil rights movement. 

White Horse Black Mountain will screen the film at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26 as part of its monthly Movies and Meaning film series. The showing will be preceded by a 6:30 p.m. pot luck. The suggested donation for the movie is $7-$10.

Five years in the making and the recipient of more than 20 awards and honors in the U.S. and abroad, "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin" chronicles the life of a tireless crusader for social and economic justice. Rustin was a disciple of Gandhi, a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. and the organizer of the triumphant 1963 March on Washington.

During all this, Rustin dared to live as an openly gay man during the fiercely homophobic 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. His open homosexuality forced him to remain in the background, marking him again and again as a "brother outsider." The documentary combines rare archival footage with provocative interviews to illuminate the life and work of a forgotten prophet of social change.

"Brother Outsider" reveals the price that Rustin paid for this openness, chronicling both the triumphs and setbacks of his remarkable 60-year career. 

White Horse's “Movies and Meaning” film series was founded as a way of gathering a dialog community around cinema that touches on themes of storytelling, healing, arts and justice. Conversation follows each screening.