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Q: what are martin luther king's opinion/views on homosecuality ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: what are martin luther king's opinion/views on homosecuality
Category: Relationships and Society > Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual
Asked by: otto85-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 07 Jan 2004 05:52 PST
Expires: 06 Feb 2004 05:52 PST
Question ID: 293986
what are martin luther king's views on homosecuality.  any written opinions?
Subject: Re: what are martin luther king's opinion/views on homosecuality
Answered By: politicalguru-ga on 07 Jan 2004 10:04 PST
Dear Otto, 

Martin Luther King Jr. never addressed issues of homosexuality in
public. I searched through his writings (translated and original,
online and off-line), and found no evidence that he ever addressed the
issue in one of his books, sermons or speeches on the subject.

The fact that King never left any conclusive indication of his opinion
on homosexuals and homosexuality, left many wandering as to King's
views on the issue.

What King Allegedly Said in Private

The controversy arouses every several years. In 1997, King's niece
"denied that homosexuality is a "civil rights" issue.  It is an issue
left to the individual and God, she said.  Homosexual "marriage" can
never succeed, because God will not recognize it.  When the leader of
the African-American gay community told King that homosexuality was
"bondage," she urged him to remain open to the possibility of finding
a way out of it. (SOURCE: Mass. News

In another place, Alveda King said that "God hates homosexuals"
<>), and that her uncle
would agree with her positions on the subject.

On the other hand, Coretta Scott King's (King's widow's) assitant,
Lynn Cothren, said that "King never publicly discussed his views about
homosexuality but, in private conversations with his wife, expressed
concern about discrimination against gay men and lesbians. ? (Source: 
"Center appalled by MLK use in flier Group using note to fight gay
rights law", Miami Herald, Aug. 02, 2002,

This was after an anti-gay group claimed, on behalf of one of King's
associates, that King would have denounced the gay-rights movement.
The group spread fliers in Miami, quoting "the Rev. Fred
Shuttlesworth, a Birmingham, Ala., civil rights leader. ''Dr. King and
I were not crusading for homosexuality,'' he said, according to the
flier. ``I've heard Dr. King speak out against homosexuality on many
occasions. It is wrong to equate homosexuality with civil rights.''
However, King Center spokesman Cothren said the flier not only
misspells Shuttlesworth's name -- omitting an ''s'' -- but
misrepresents his views. Cothren said he spoke with Shuttlesworth, now
in his 70s, and he disavowed the remarks. ''He doesn't remember making
the statement,'' Cothren said. ``He said that if he did say anything
similar it was taken out of context. This is a misuse of Rev.
Shuttlesworth.''" (Source: ibid).

What his biographers say
I also read some biographical pieces on King, and courtesy of, also read parts of other biographies. The biographers
usually do not refer to any opinions regarding homosexuality, except
regarding two issues. One of them, is Edgar Hoover's accusations, that
King was in fact a homosexual. The FBI attempted to smear his name by
alleging that King is in fact a homosexual.

A second, connected, issue, is King's alliance and friendship with
Bayard Rustin, an open gay man, who organised the 1963 rally in
Washington and in general was one of the most important figures in the
Civil Rights Movement's history. King did not shun Bayard through most
of their relations because of his homosexuality, excluding an episode
in 1960, where King him from his staff, following a comment by by
Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. on "immoral element" in the civil
rights movement. (See: PBS, "Brother Outsider"

One King's biographers, Stewart Burns, writes in "To The Mountaintop",
that King rejected attempts to shun Rustin because of his
homosexuality: "?Roy Wilkins did not want Bayard Rustin to have any
part in organizing the [1963 March on Washington] because of his past
associations with leftist causes and his reputed homosexuality. King
insisted, ?We are not concerned with Bayard or the past associations
or affiliations of any participants. We are not going to conduct a
witchhunt.? They compromised by letting A.Phillip Randolph chair the
march, knowing his administrative assistant, Rustin, was going to be
the defacto director of the entire undertaking. Bayard had the time,
the ability, the organization, and the skills to run it." (Source: To
The Mountaintop, Harper and "Shaming MLK", Alicia Banks Geocities
Site, <>).

King himself never published his views regarding homosexuality. The
written opinion, as reflected in the writings of most of his heirs and
biographers maintain that he did not reject or object homosexuals.

Books and Sites

The autobiography of Martin Luther King (See parts and passages
However, the book is available at libraries and bookstores. For
Volume I : Born to Serve, January 1929-June 1951
Volume II : Rediscovering Precious Values, September 1951-November 1955
Volume III : Birth of a New Age, December 1955-December 1956
Volume IV : Symbol of the Movement, January 1957-December 1958

Articles by King 

A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend
Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Several places where you could read citations from books about King
and Homosexuality: - "search a book" function. Doesn't apply to all books,
but adds information. - searches and presents text from books and articles.
Full text requires purchase. - a German site (in German, and I apologise if you cannot
read this language), where you could check  - among other things - if
you could get full text citations of books and articles.

Please note that these writings by King do not include reference to
homosexuality, as such couldn't be found in his public expressions.

About Rustin and his relationships with King: 
Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D'Emilio (Free Press)  

My search strategy, besides the abovementioned databases and others,
was to search Google for the terms:
"luther King" and "homosexuality OR homosexuals" 

I hope this answered your question. Please contact me if you need any
further clarifications before you tip/rate this answer.
Subject: Re: what are martin luther king's opinion/views on homosecuality
From: alison985-ga on 18 Feb 2004 16:26 PST
You should also see the PBS biography of "Brother Outsider: The Life
of Bayard Rustin."

The biography suggests that Bayard would have been the name we know
today instead of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had Bayard not been gay.
As it was he was a top adviser to Dr. King.

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