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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Martin Luther King Jr.'s response to homosexuality

Baker describes the discomfort Martin Luther King Jr. felt with homosexuality.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

You knew Martin Luther King. You met Martin Luther King or at least spoke with him.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yes.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did he ever verbalize or, I guess you could assume acknowledge the role of gay people within the black civil rights movement? Because really, I guess when you ran into him, it may have just been strategy sessions and general meetings and that kind of thing.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yeah, you know.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Obviously, one of his people organized the March on Washington.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yeah, I know more of his, of the people around him, more so than Doctor King and no I didn't get a sense. No, I think that the sense that I got was that Doctor King was not very comfortable with the gay people in the movement, and I know he wasn't very comfortable with Bayard Rustin, and so that is to some degree Bayard—that's why Bayard had such a back seat.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
A peripheral role.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Right, he had a crucial role, but it was behind the scenes in the process, so that was all that I can say about that.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did you see [Quinton sighs] did you know this from the actions, or did you see his thought process or his reaction to certain issues or gay people or—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No, I really didn't see that, I mean, I don't think that it was—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You just knew that he was a little uncomfortable.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
I know that he wasn't that comfortable with Bayard more than anything else, and I knew that because John was—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Was that a personal thing, or was it a gay thing—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
It probably was, I don't know, I really don't know, I can't say. I mean, much of what I knew about that had to do with the fact that John worked with Bayard—John Dunne—worked with Bayard Rustin for a summer.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
For a summer, was this after—?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
You know, because those kind of issues were—I mean, because to some degree it was like the relationship between me and John, where in the relationship was there—the focus was on the movement, and whenever we interacted with people if they were not gay, it was mostly about the movement, so what people's personal reactions or responses were, I have no clue.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, when John worked, I guess when you worked through John that when John worked for Bayard, he saw things that would indicate this discomfort.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yeah, doctor King was not very comfortable with—I mean Bayard was not closeted by any means [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
How not, was he just flamboyant, or was he?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yeah, Bayard was a bit flamboyant.