'RUSTIN' Will Introduce Many To The Queer Visionary Behind The March
Watch Colman "I'm A Legend" Domingo in the trailer now
I can’t surrender my differences, the world won’t let me.
“Wait…who is that?”
This was my response over a dinner during MVAAFF late this summer. Sitting at a table full of Black queer critics and enjoying a wildly yummy dinner in one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been, I took a sip of my drink after THEE Emil Wilbekin (Writer, Professor, Babe, and founder of Native Son) told me he was excited for me to see the upcoming Netflix film on Bayard Rustin.
I’d never heard the name before. I was quickly schooled by Emil on who he was—one of the most influential people of The Civil Rights Era, the mind behind The March on Washington…and he was openly gay.
I grew up and went to school in Detroit. Many of our schools are/were named after Black leaders that we learned about on repeat every February; Coleman A. Young Elementary, Martin Luther King Senior High, Frederick Douglass Academy, and so on.
Those school names were always a hint to me that those people were important, they were people to remember, people that had done something for us that was so significant they got educational institutions named after them. How was Bayard Rustin not among the names taught to me?
I left that dinner and went to do research on not just Bayard, but the film coming out about him. He was the brains behind the 1963 March on Washington, where his very close friend, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech. He organized the Freedom Day Boycott. He was an incredible singer. He wrote and gave speeches on queerness—”The New Niggers Are Gay” and “From Montgomery to Stonewall”—and I just learned who he was only 2 months ago. He left his mark on history, and yet, somehow, it erased him from the scene.
George C. Wolfe—Director, Queer Legend, Incredible Fucking Playwright—is about to make sure that everyone knows who Bayard Rustin is.
The new film RUSTIN, stars Colman Domingo (who is also queer IRL) as the queer activist and it comes out on Netflix November 17 and will be in a few theatres on November 3. It’s got a stacked cast, Audra McDonald, Jeffrey Wright, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Glynn Turman, and zooms in on the creating and planning of The March on Washington and Rustin’s part in it all.
I got a peek at the film AND a chance to talk with George C. Wolfe about it (he was literally so cool and chill and I was about to pass out) and I am SO AMPED for everyone to see the trailer and get ready for a film that is going to become a huge part of Black Queer Pop Culture.
When writing this, I thought back to those schools and the importance of the folks who have their names put over their front doors—and I learned that Bayard Rustin High School exists. Something about discovering that this gay Black man, who in the coming months will likely be added to every teacher’s Black history curriculum, has a school named after him made my queer heart so full. It's a testament to his enduring legacy, and it serves as a powerful reminder that the stories of queer Black folks are an integral part of our history—and that we too deserve to be acknowledged and honored.
P.S. Was no one going to tell me about this conversation between Carrie Mae Weems and George C. Wolfe?! Y’ALL ARE SO FAKE!