This intimate portrait of civil rights movement icon Bayard Rustin is told from the perspective of Rustin’s partner. Not only was it bold to be openly gay in 1977, when Rustin and Walter Naegle met, but theirs was also an interracial and intergenerational relationship, challenging three societal taboos at once. Through Rustin, Bayard and Me explicitly ties gay rights to the civil rights movement, observing that Rustin faced discrimination within the movement because of his homosexuality. Director Matt Wolf helps restore Rustin to his rightful place in history as one of the architects of nonviolent civil resistance in the U.S. Rustin did not live to see gay marriage become a reality, but it is the quiet dignity of Rustin’s and Naegle’s same-sex union that occupies the film’s emotional center and speaks most compellingly to the ideal of equal rights.
- Matt Wolf