Would Martin Luther King Jr Have Supported LGBTQ Rights?

| January 16, 2018

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day every year, discussion often turns to whether Dr King would have supported the LGBTQ rights movement.

Nick Duffy, PinkNews, writes that “Dr King often advocated for the rights of everyday people – but his thoughts on homosexuality are less well preserved.”

According to Duffy, One of the only documented records of the civil rights hero discussing homosexuality was in advice column for Ebony Magazine back in 1958 – while the US government was still openly discriminating against LGBT people, and homosexuality was a crime.

According to a transcript released by Stanford University, a teenage boy had asked: “My problem is different from the ones most people have.

“I am a boy, but I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do? Is there any place where I can go for help?”

Though Dr King’s response may seem ill-informed by modern standards, his advice to the boy is remarkably calm and polite, given the fears and active scaremongering about gay people at the time.

Dr King responded: “Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require careful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired.”

He continued: “In order to do this I would suggest that you see a good psychiatrist who can assist you in bringing to the forefront of conscience all of those experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit.”

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photo: Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and wife Coretta Scott King (Photo by Getty Images)

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