Julian Bond on Gay Rights and Civil Rights

Julian Bond (Brian Ach/Getty Images)
Julian Bond (Brian Ach/Getty Images)

Though African Americans have a long history of fighting for civil rights, not all believe that the battle is similar to that for gay rights. Huffington Post contributor Michael G. Long parses civil rights activist Julian Bond's take on how he thinks Martin Luther King Jr. would view the struggle for gay rights.

And what about Dr. King? "I believe in my heart of hearts," Bond says, "that were King alive today, he would be a supporter of gay rights. He would see this as just another in a series of battles of justice and fair play against injustice and bigotry. He would make no distinction between this fight [for gay rights] and the fight he became famous for."

Is Julian Bond right to align Martin Luther King, Jr. with the movement for LGBTQ rights?

Three potential problems arise: First, there is no evidence to suggest that King understood homosexuality as an immutable characteristic. In fact, way back in 1957, he believed that homosexual feelings were "probably not innate." Second, even though gay rights had indeed become a national issue during his lifetime — mainstream media filed major reports on it — King never once spoke publicly about the issue. And third, it's historically untenable to state, without qualification, that a deceased position would hold X or Y position if he or she were alive today. People change.

Still, there are significant reasons to suggest that Bond is on the right track. First, unlike Walter Fauntroy, King, also a Baptist preacher, never used the Bible to condemn gays or homosexuality. Biblical support for slavery alone made him wary of biblical fundamentalism and, consequently, he adopted other moral authorities, like the Bill of Rights, when inviting us to dream about the inclusive beloved community.


Read Michael G. Long's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.