A new Barack and Michelle Obama-produced biopic about Bayard Rustin, the civil rights activist who mentored Martin Luther King Jr, will explore how his sexuality has affected his legacy.
Rustin, who died aged 75 in 1987, was one of the key organizers of the 1963 March on Washington – where King Jr made his “I have a dream” speech to 250,000 demonstrators.
But as a gay man with affiliations to the Communist Party, his place in history has often been erased in the decades since.
From the 1940s until the end of the 1960s, Rustin was beaten, arrested and ostracized for his political convictions and sexuality.
“It completely played against him and also a lot of women in the movement as well,” said Euphoria’s Colman Domingo, who is playing Rustin in the Netflix biopic.
“I understand how black folks, at times, can be a bit conservative. But I think it was all trying to come together to actually do what we believed was right,” he said.
“Yet you have people’s minds, bodies and souls who live outside of that, who are sort of outliers that get denied access in many ways. And [Rustin] was just very much a man of his own creation.”