Today’s Black History Month LGBT+ hero is Bayard Rustin – American leader in activism and social movements for civil rights, gay rights, nonviolence and socialism – chosen by Pride artist Drew who tells us…

Bayard Rustin was a civil rights organiser and activist, in particular known for his work in fighting against racial discrimation in employment and later becoming an advisor and strategist to Martin Luther King Jr. In fact he was a key figure in the organisation of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at which King delivered his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.
Rustin was instrumental in organising freedom rides and bus boycotts alongside working with union leaders in promoting integration of unions, unionising african-americans and establishing legal assistance with regards to employment and housing.

Although he lived unashamedly and openly as a gay man, he was often criticised for this and so took on a more pragmatic role as an influential advisor behind the scenes to civil rights leaders, using his knowledge and experience of non-violent resistance and formulating strategies and tactics for civil disobedience.

In the 1980’s he became much more vocal and became a public advocate for LGBT causes.

He died in 1987 but years later, on the 20th of November, 2013 was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

Watch a film of Bayard speaking here:

If you would like to nominate your hero or find out more about our BAME LGBT+ Forum, please email Norwich Pride historian Stevie at

You can check out all our Black History Month LGBT+ heroes on our website

To download a copy of the Norfolk Black History Month 2020 brochure go to: