Gay & Quaker: The Shaping of Activist Bayard Rustin

Gay & Quaker: The Shaping of Activist Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin has recently become prominent in public awareness in the U.S. as an iconic figure and architect of the 20th century Black Civil Rights Movement. On Thursday April 4, 2024, LGBTQ-RAN hosted a reflection on how that activist-organizer was formed, particularly in relation to his sexual identity and his Quaker faith. How did these deeply personal elements of Rustin’s being inform—or hinder—his development as a change agent? Religious historian and Rustinian scholar Quincy Rineheart lead this conversation with Rustin’s long-time partner Walter Naegel and activist-organizer Mandy Carter.

The Reverend Quincy James Rineheart is an African American religious historian, Rustinian scholar, academic activist, and teacher. He is a Doctor of Philosophy Candidate at the Chicago Theological Seminary. He is writing a dissertation entitled “Recovering Bayard Rustin: The Black Quaker Spirituality of a Civil Rights Architect.” Currently, he serves as the Executive Assistant to the President (Chief of Staff) at Payne Theological Seminary.

Mandy Carter is a Black lesbian activist with a 50-year movement history of social, racial, and LGBTQ justice organizing since 1967.  She is a co-founder of Southerners On New Ground and also a co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a national civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and same-gender loving people.  Her early organizing work was with the War Resisters League and other Quaker networks where Rustin also provided leadership.  

Walter Naegle was Bayard Rustin’s life partner from 1977-87. During that decade, Rustin divided his time between domestic civil rights issues and international affairs, particularly refugee relief and promotion of human rights and democracy. In 2013, when President Barack Obama awarded Rustin a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, Naegle accepted it on his behalf, becoming one of the first LGBT partners to do so. He is a co-author of Troublemaker for Justice – The Story of Bayard Rustin, the man behind The March on Washington a young person’s biography published by City Lights. He is a graduate of Fordham University.


Rustin, Bayard | Friends/Quakers