To be black, gay and ex-Communist in Pasadena, 1953

So late Tuesday night I’m lying there under the halogen breaking my semi-vow to only read real books and not newspapers or magazines in bed by cracking The New Yorker that came in that day’s mail. First Talk of the Town item by Hendrik Hertzberg opens with this: “On the evening of January 21, 1953, Bayard Rustin, a forty-year-old organizer for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a leading organization of religious pacifists, gave a talk, in Pasadena, California, about anti-colonial struggles in West Africa. Among the admirers who approached him after the speech were two young men. Late that night, he and the young men were arrested after being discovered in flagrante in a parked car. He pleaded guilty to a charge of ‘lewd vagrancy’ and was carted off to serve sixty days behind bars.”
Actually, according to other sources, the man who went on to organize MILK’s 1963 March on Washington had that charge pled down to “sex perversion,” which believe it or not was a lesser crime. I’ve got to make the time to dig back in our files and see what church it was — let’s see, Neighborhood or Throop, or the Friends meeting hall; what’s your guess? — and how the Star-News of the day covered the story.
Hertzberg’s piece goes on to brilliantly skewer the former political comrades of Sen. Larry Craig for their “cruelty and contempt” in throwing Craig to the Idaho wolves as soon as they realized he really is gay. Sample blather from Michelle Malkin: “He’s a supremely arrogant, lying crap-weasel.” A what?

4 thoughts on “To be black, gay and ex-Communist in Pasadena, 1953

  1. I was reading The New Yorker last night, too. I think it’s a curious event regarding the ’60 civil rights activist, and I hope it doesn’t chill his future efforts to speak at events.

    I can only imagine what Craig’s old buddies are saying about the ACLU coming to Craig’s defense in Minn. In their amicus curiae brief they are a tad more eloquent than say, Ms. Malkin et al. Quite an inspired read.

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