By John Blake, CNN
(CNN)– 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.”
We know what King thought about race, poverty and war. But what was his attitude toward gay people, and if he was alive today would he see the gay rights movement as another stage of the civil rights movement?
That’s not the type of question most people will consider on this Monday as the nation celebrates King’s national holiday. Yet the debate over King’s stance toward gay rights has long divided his family and followers. That debate is poised to go public again because of the upcoming release of two potentially explosive books, one of which examines King’s close relationship with an openly gay civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin.
The author of both books says King’s stance on gay rights is unclear because the Ebony advice column may be the only public exchange on record where he touches on the morality of homosexuality.
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.”
Did King’s dream include gay people?
One person close to King, though, would disagree.
Rev. Bernice King led a march to her father’s graveside in 2005 while calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. She was joined by Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in Georgia, where she served as an elder at the time. Long, who recently settled out of court with four young men who filed lawsuits claiming he coerced them into sexual relationships, publicly condemned homosexuality.
King did not answer an interview request, but she has spoken publicly about her views.
During a speech at a church meeting in New Zealand, she said her father “did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage.”
Yet her mother, Coretta Scott King, was a vocal supporter of gay rights. One of her closest aides was gay. She also invoked her husband’s dream.
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.”
Those who say King did not condemn gays and would have supported gay rights today point to King’s theology.
Though King was a Christian minister, he didn’t embrace a literal reading of the Bible that condemns homosexuality, some historians say. King’s vision of the Beloved Community – his biblical-rooted vision of humanity transcending its racial and religious differences – expanded people’s rights, not restricted them, they say.
Rev. C.T. Vivian, who worked with King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says King would have championed gay rights today.
“Martin was a theologian,” Vivian says. “Martin starts with the fact that God loves everybody, and all men and all women were created by God. He based his whole philosophy on God’s love for all people.”
King’s relationship with ‘Brother Bayard’
Those who say King would have championed gay rights also point to King’s treatment of one of the movement’s most important leaders, Bayard Rustin.
Rustin was an openly gay civil rights leader who is widely credited with organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He was an organizational genius, the man who insisted that King speak last on the program, giving his “I Have a Dream” speech the resonance it would not have had otherwise, says Jerald Podair, author of “Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer.”
“He was the kind of guy who could tell you how many portable toilets you needed for 250,000 people in a demonstration," Podair says. “He was a details guy. King needed him for that march.”
But Rustin could do more than arrange a demonstration. He was also a formidable thinker and debater. He was born to a 15-year-old single mother and never graduated from college.
The movement was led by intellectual heavyweights like King, but even among them, Rustin stood out, Podair says. He read everything and was a visionary. One aide to President Lyndon Johnson described him as one of the five smartest men in America, says Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
“People who heard him speak were transfixed,” Podair says.
Rustin became one of the movement’s most eloquent defenders of its nonviolent philosophy, says Saladin Ambar, a political scientist at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.
“He was one of the few individuals not afraid to debate with Malcolm X in public,” Ambar says. “Rustin more than held his own and really challenged Malcolm to push his thinking.”
Rustin was a special assistant to King and once headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. During the planning of the March on Washington, King resisted calls to jettison Rustin because he was gay, Podair says.
King, though, didn’t speak out on behalf of gay rights because he was doing all he could to hold the movement together, historians say.
He had to constantly fend off rumors that the movement was infiltrated by communists. He was also criticized for expanding the movement to take on poverty and oppose the Vietnam War.
“The movement superseded any discussion of gay rights,” Ambar says. “King was dedicated to the cause at hand.”
With all that was going on, King couldn’t afford to wage a public campaign defending Rustin’s homosexuality, says Vivian, a SCLC colleague of King’s.
“Any employee that would employ a gay person at the time who was outwardly gay would have problems,” Vivian says. “I don’t care if you were the president of the Untied Sates, you would have trouble doing that.”
After the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin remained as King’s adviser. The two, however, drifted apart when King became more radical during the last three years of his life, says Adair, Rustin’s biographer.
When Rustin died in 1987, he was starting to receive attention from gay and lesbian activists who linked civil rights with gay rights, Podair says.
Rustin was a late convert to their cause.
“He never put it [homosexuality] front and center,” Podair says. “He never politicized it until the end of his life. He didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.”
It’s no longer unusual today for gay and lesbian activists to draw parallels between their struggles and King’s legacy. Vivian, King’s SCLC colleague, says the comparison is apt.
“There was a time when black people were afraid to be themselves among white people,” he says. “You had to fit a stereotype in order to be accepted. They’re going through the same thing but now they feel better about themselves.”
Vivian says the movement shouldn’t be limited to race.
“As we were freeing up black people, we’re freeing up the whole society.”
Long, author of the upcoming books on King and Rustin, says King’s vision transcended his personal limitations. Maybe he could have said more to that anonymous boy who wrote him at Ebony. But he did leave him a key to the Beloved Community– even if he didn’t realize it at the time, Long says.
Now, Long says, it’s up to those who claim King today to use that key.
“A turn of that key and a gentle push on the gate, swinging it wide open so everyone can enter into the Beloved Community,” he says. “That’s the best way to advance the legacy of Martin Luther King.”
This entire article is ad hominem. Please disregard it, people.
Josh, why couldn't you have come in earlier to tell everyone what they should or shouldn't read? It would save everyone so much time!
Sh!t, can someone make sure this comment is the first one everyone sees?? It'll save them trouble. Could've saved me so much time.
"There is no private or public record of King condemning gay people" So why does an article exist speaking about it? It's pure speculation, there is no factual evidence here stating whether MLK Jr. was for or against gay rights. Thus, as I have previously stated, this entire article exists for the sole purpose of trying to make people think one way or the other about this man without bothering to think about the issues which he DID speak of in his life, which IS ad hominem. I say that everyone should disregard this article, because it is purely opinion based, but attempts to present itself as fact. It's utterly shameless propaganda, nothing more.
Josh, what you said was, "Please disregard it, people."
You need to mind your own beezwax mister.
If Josh isn't disregarding this mother, then neither am I. It is BACK ON, people!
These hom.os.exuals will tarnish everything with their sin, even MLK day. Let us keep in mind that hom.os.exuals define themselves as a group based on sinful behavior. It has nothing to do with skin color or anything else having to do with how they were born. It is not a hom.os.exual orientation that people object to. People object to the sinful behavior and the unrepentent lifestyle.
What people George? Not me, I object to hateful ignorant bigots like you.
Oh, blow it out your ear, George. The majority of people DON'T believe gays "choose" a "lifestyle" anymore than you "chose" to boink your wife instead of the bag boy at the grocery store. The majority of people approve of the acceptance of gay marriage and of gays having families.
Get over it, you silly old man.
I object very hard to their sin. I myself never think about hard things. I think hard about Rick Santorum and how hard he would give it to the ho. m.o.s. ex.uals once he's in the white house. Don't even tell me they are not sinners.
George, why is it anyone else's business what two consenting adults do in private? Why can't you and your fellow cult members mind your own business?
You spend an awful lot of time thinking about gays and hanging out on articles concerning them, George.
Not even too sorry I missed most of this, today...George, the only thing you seem to be good at is holding a small minded, backward position and then deigning to try and force everyone else to adopt it. You're worse than the so-called 'gay agenda' everyone keeps whining about because you just want everything you don't like to go away. It's a small planet, so you're going to be mad a lot the rest of your life, which won't be long if you don't stop getting riled about what other people do. From what I can tell, you've already stroked out, because you make about that much sense lately.
Why, why do you aggravate yourself by hanging around these articles for hours and hours when you hate everything about it?
The second George is not me, but is a troll or is speaking for himself.
Sam, name one other article about hom.os.exuals that I "hung out" on? I just started posting in December. I will be waiting for your answer.
Tom, Tom, yes, they choose their behavior just as fornicators choose their behavior and just as adulterers choose their behavior.
Wow, it's only been a month? It feels like forever! And since CNN seems to love posting about gay issues (according to some earlier ranting pages pack from a variety of sources) and I've seen you on every single one being a raging doosh, I guess that means you've left an impression on me.
You've been on this one from the beginning, troll. It's been a long day for you.
Wait...now you're saying there's also a troll? George....do you know what's funny about that? No one can tell which one that is, because you're so batsh!t to begin with.
I've been on this article for 1 hour this afternoon, and I've come back to it tonight. It's a free country. Sorry if you don't like it.
You still did not name a single other article about hom.os.exuals that I posted on because you cannot.
George, they don't choose to be Gay. Why would anyone today believe that? How stupid do you have to be? Seriously?
You sure posted a lot in that one hour, then. Impressive. Any other gems of wisdom to impart? Or did you just want to keep repeating yourself and amusing the hell out of everybody?
I had to come back to it tonight because I couldn't stop thinking about it. Someone must speak out against the gays.
A clear majority of Americans support marriage equality for LGBT Americans. Check it out right here at CNN. Face the fact, George, no one wants to read your whining about LGBT Americans. Maybe not ALL Americans are totally supportive, but EVERYBODY ELSE just wishes the anti-gays would just STOP WHINING.
I have a feeling that if the article had been condemnatory of gays and lesbians, the people whining about "What does this have to do with MLK Jr Day?" wouldn't be asking. Let us also recall that the people of their mentality during the Civil Rights Era were the ones advocating against desegregation. The "good old boys."
MLK was a racist...the whole democratic party is racist against white people...its the anti white and the anti male party and the anti christian party and the anti marriage between a man and a woman party...its the communist party in disguise....
Fred, bless your heart.
Your brain called. It misses you.
Ok, I think I have stopped laughing long enough to write this reply:
1. MLK worked tirelessly against racism and FOR freedom.
2. I am white. I am a Democrat. I am racist against myself? Solid logic Fred.
3. I am male. I am racist against myself again?
4. I am PROUD to believe that a secular government is essential to our democracy. Other than that, I don’t if you worship camels. Who cares. Just keep it out of MY government
5. I think men and women should be able to get married. That is a weird thing to say. I also believe Gays and Lesbians should be able to get married. In short, I believe in Freedom. Which is what America stands for.
6. Look in the mirror mister communist conspiracy theory boy. LOL (How DOES one “disguise” themselves as communists?)
You are a crack up Fred.
A bead of water traces a path is parallel to the way a river meanders which is parallel to the way a galaxy navigates through space and often collides with another galaxy, like a river collides with a stream or a drop of water collides with another to make a larger drop.
This is the way of the Universe. This is the way of God. Beauty from chaos. Chaos from beauty.
As she danced
Each jewel on her gown flying outward
Perhaps never to return
Each shiny gem in a cloud of total darkness
She danced and she sang
Her gown twirling like a pinwheel faster and faster still
Soon to become many
And many to become light
And that light to become trillions of sparkles
Still she danced
And now the swirls were as giants dancing
And the dancing giants would collide in beautiful confusion
And forever the spinning would last
Unless it stopped.
None of us will ever know the truth. None of us. But looking for it is fun, and it is not in your prayers or your fantasies of a God that is involved in your life or dusty books or supersti.tions of a time long gone. Accept it. Embrace it. Let us evolve now. It is ok for us to take the next step.
You have my deepest sympathy. I only pray you open you mind and your eyes before its too late.
Oh, thanks Greg. I almost forgot. Prayer changes things LOL. You are missing the whole party because you think like an uneducated primitive from 2000 years ago. Suit yourself! Don't forget to pray now!
Why does that person need your sympathy? They seem to have a rather beautiful picture of the universe, why do they need your god? I always kinda felt religion was a bit arrogant, "I'm so special in the universe that the all powerful cosmic creator cares about me". To me, those who feel that you need to believe in a god to be either happy or good people deserve far more sympathy than people who feel in harmony with the universe itself. Or is "open your mind" simply "accept my dogma as true"?
Martin Luther King was a man of prayer. He wasn't from 2000 years ago.
An inconvenient truth
He wasn't from 2000 years ago?? Well that screws up my whole time machine theory. Dammit.
MLK thought gay people were gay. Seriously
Today would be a great day to End Gay Discrimination. Stop using the court system to prolong gay suffering. We all know it is wrong to discriminate against anyone. So let's use our common sense and send a message to the rest world that America no longer uses illeagal laws to discriminate against Gay people. We are so far behind on this issue its time to get real and End Dioscrimination !
Right, let's all end all discrimmination against people who are committing sins ... get those murders off death row, let those child molesters out of prison, don't discriminate against adulters in divorce proceedings ....
George, aren't you planning on forgiving Newt "The Fornicator" Gingritch?
hotair : Whether or not an American is forgiven by another American, one thing is damn sure, We don't need a smart ass canadian piping in on the topic. You can't vote here your opinion on our politics is lower than dog crap, so go pound salt. There's your sign
You forgive someone when they repent and ask for forgiveness. You do not forgive someone who is continuing the sin. As far as Gingrich goes, I've long said that the best candidates are Santorum and Bachman. Bachman is gone. But Santorum has picked up support in South Carolina, and he is my man. And I never said anything about forgiving Gingrich. Only God can forgive Gingrich. However, I will vote for whichever candidate will advance the Christian agenda the most.
"Sin"? Bleh, people pushing their personal religious values on other are the lowest of the low. Your book might say gay people are bad, but there are plenty of other books out there that don't, with just as much reason to believe as your text. I see little reason why I should care about biblical dogma any more than harry potter's dogma.
You need to get your heart right with God. Whatever you think of the Bible (or the Torah or the Koran), the fact is that God does exist and you will be called to judgment.
So being married three times and being a fornicator is, or will be considered, advancing christian agenda. Interesting – I would have thought a true christian would denounce Newt, if not stone him and his wives. What ever happened to absolute morals?
I myself will never be called to judgement because I have been judging others as much as I can.
@George: Bachmann? Really?? I've never heard anyone say they would support her...
George...what if you're wrong about your beliefs? (This gets asked to us atheists all the time, but I think the question is fair pointed at you as well) Not only would you have wasted your one and only life...but you would have persecuted people who have done no wrong other than not agreeing with you. Why can't we all live in harmony, knowing that any of us could be wrong. The implications of this would be not to support politicians who are attempting to write into law their condemnatory beliefs that restrict individual liberties (anti gay rights, etc). Then, everyone could decide for themselves what behavior they wish to engage in, without it hurting others' conscience. The world would truly be a better place...
@George. Don't you have anything better to do, Troll?
George, your firm grasp of nothing is breath-taking. You are comparing regular peace loving people to murderers and child molestors. You are brainless, but enough of the compliments.
What I really want to say is that it is about time to legalize Pot too. Enough of this Bull-sh.it. Is this a free country or ain't it? I know you are on board with that right George? You could really stand to high.
All sin is sin and those who do it willingly are going to pay. H.o.m.o. s e.x.u.a.l.s are just as bad as child molesters because they also put there hands and parts in places they don't belong. This is obvious, flawless logic and if you don't agree then you will burn in hell with the h.o.m.o.s too.
You said, "Right, let's all end all discrimmination against people who are committing sins ... "
Those that don't follow your fairy tale don't sin. If you don't subscribe to the delusion, you are not subject to it's rules. Your bigoted and abhorrent "morals" have no place in a civilized society.
You said, "get those murders off death row, let those child molesters out of prison, don't discriminate against adulters in divorce proceedings ...."
You have to be totally and completely off your rocker to equate the love between people with murder or child molestation. To call you a despicable piece of shit would be an insult to shit.
George, if you could kindly point me in the right direction to hell. I would like see the place before I decide where to stick my penis. I wait, I am straight and I don't feel Gay at all. I don't believe I could choose to be Gay if it not appealing to me. I supposed that is exactly how Gay folks feel. To bad for them, God is going to make the burn. What a total a.s.s. hold! Hey George. GOD is a total JERK!! Just like you! I guess that is not a coincidence. Well just in case, where is Hell located again?
"This is obvious, flawless logic and if you don't agree then you will burn in hell with the h.o.m.o.s too."
This would be absolutely 100% true IF it weren't absolutely 100% wrong.
Interesting that George is ok with voting for a man that will be burning in h3ll...
we all knew martin was gay
Prayer changes things
A good man prays to God
A great man acts on prayer
Prayer really changes things
Prayer solves nothing. Prayer is a waste of time. Prayer is a wishing well sans well. Discussion and actions is what make things happen. Atheism is the ultimate morality and the best thing for our children. I know a rational mind free of delusion have assisted my kids.
Martin Luther King was a man who acted on prayer.
A man who denies God before his children and to his children is an abuser of his children.
@just sayin, only according to he delusional fools who takeThe Babble seriously.
Praying helps me pray
I do a warm up prayer first so I don't strain anything later, then I try a practice prayer to make sure I don't screw up. Then the hard.core prayer begins, b!tches, and sometimes my neighbors call the police because I am not fooling around, son.
Not pro-gay, just pro-being-nice-to-people. Look, you don't have to be a screaming, flaming rainbow warrior to be a decent guy or a supportive pastor, and you don't have to be horribly unpleasant toward others just because you think sodomy is against your religion. I don't understand why some people have trouble with this idea. It would seem like plain common sense to me.
Prayer is communication with God
Prayer centers a persons day
Prayer changes lives
Prayer helps me to pray.
You like prayer an money? Me too, what are the chances?
Prayer changes lives
Prayer reserves treasures in heaven
Prayer enriches the soul
Prayer gives life
Pretty shabby journalism to use this angle to sensationalize an article. While we're at it why not look into Eisenhower and J Edgar Hoover? Maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald and Elvis? Sorry sons of buzzards.
I had a dream last night. Alice Cooper autographed a new copy of Billion Dollar Babies and gave me donuts.
I like dreams where you can flap your arms and sort of fly and float around.
Analysis: I was born on the wrong planet. Get me out of here!
Ironicus, I used to work really hard at Lucid dreaming techniques. Once you are aware you are dreaming, you can fly and do pretty much anything you want. What I found difficult though was it worked best for me if I had sleep deprivation and there is not usually time to stay up long enough to get to "that place".
You gotta love celebrity dreams.
I once dreamed I caught a touchdown pass from Dan Marino. That was awsome. And I am a huge dork apparently.
Is it safe to eat anything Alice Cooper gives you?
I had a dream a week ago that Robert Downey Jr held a garage sale in a dark parking lot and kept trying to sell me a dollhouse. You figure THAT one out.
MLK's religious views are irrelevant. What mattered were his views on social equity.
He was not "MLK." No. He was the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior. And as a Reverend Doctor, as a Baptist minister, his religious beliefs are paramount to understanding his thinking. Read his Letter from Birmingham Jail wherein he explains why he did the things he did. He was motivated entirely by his religion.
So, if we want to speculate about what he might think today, that speculation can only be valid if it is made looking through the lense that he would have looked through, that of a Baptist minister and theologian.
I loves me some MLK!
You can also judge a man based on his company and the reverend doctor king was a good friend with a great man who happened to be openly gay. There is no doubt in my mind that while he may have been conflicted in 1963 and feared how any decision may have affected the movement, he would have been friend of the gay community in 2012.
Prayer changes things
It sure does. In addition to being dumbed down by religion, prayer makes you even more stupid than you already are.
Right on time.
Thank you sir may I have another!
I can tell you what prayer has done for me.
@Ice Cold,Notice how easy it was to smoke you out of your hole, you racist piece of crapp. Your argument, as illogical as they were, couldn’t hide your ignorance. Wouldn’t be surprised if you were a man in a position of respect in your community. Probably raising a house full of ignorant kids too.
Anti-racism is anti-white. Racism is natural. People are going to naturally prefer to be around other people who look, think, and act like they do. It's only when people have been conditioned, brain washed by the Jew media and Jewlywood, that people start race mixing and start being comfortable around people NOT like them.
I think we should all get together and kill every single one of these white supremacists.
Just to shut them up because they suck so bad and are clearly sub-human pieces of shlt.
What human sc.um. There is nothing lower than an ignorant, mouth-breathing racist from the South. Traitors all.
I hate traitors. They can be shot in times of war without a trial. Let's get with it and destroy their "stormfront" website while we're at it. They've forfeited their rights as far as I'm concerned. It's time to make them pay.
But stay out of trouble! Don't do anything illegal! Let's do this legally. The FBI likes to shoot people. Let's get them involved with their guns and stuff. They know just who these bigots are. Time to round them up and shoot them fellas!
Well Crom, I hate northern liberal braindead fools who fail to do any research and jump right on the mainstream jew media bandwagon. I think for myself. You let falsehoods and lack of foresight and research think for you. Which one of us is s-t-u-p-i-d again?
My hole? I am a racist, no hole. I am not hiding.
Crom – Wow...just wow. More Waco eh? You tool, you make me sick!
Crom – Errr, unless that was sarcasm, if it was, I apologize.
Well? Come on Crom, I'm waiting for your response...
My guess is Crom went to hide under his rock, and is busily getting himself nice and brainwashed so he can come back with more and more cliches or ridiculous, undereducated, and some badly misspelled threats. We probably won't see an INTELLIGENT response out of him.
I meant this article was meaningless.....
Never mind what MLK thought about gay people...people better be concerned with what GOD thinks about it. MLK doesn't have a heaven or hell to put anybody in.....but we all will be judged by GOD....so this interview was meaningless....
and yet you took the time to read it i suggest you go back to your cave and bury you head in your little book and stop talking to society as they have already passed you by
God, any god, is meaningless 'cause they do not exist.
If Slavery were put on the Ballot would the majority of Americans vote to end it? Would they fear loosing jobs, or for the Slave Owners angry about loosing their property that helped them Profit and maintain their great wealth from the use of slave labor, much like China does now. No one chooses to be Gay- honest and open in their relationships, dirty pigs are a different story many who have cover wifes or girlfriends.
Why is the Google Doodle today an Amoeba with little MLK faces all over. That is awful! Fail!
The white zone is for loading and unloading only.
I noticed that too they put his image on a shape shifting parasite. we still have a long way to go.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.