Bayard Rustin and Walter Neagle – Married or adopted?

The Gay History site has published a very interesting article, drawing on an article published by the New York Times,  on how gay couples prevented from marrying choose another route to try and ensure their partner’s rights – that of adopting their partner!

Here I have reprinted the article and then afterwards a editorial piece submitted by Sean McGouran for NIGRA – 


by Paul


Bayard Rustin and Walter Naegle | NPR | 15399

The New York Times have been delving into the history of gay men who could not marry, so one partner adopted the other partner, instead.

Adult adoption by gays and lesbians has only been quietly discussed, both in or outside the gay community, for fairly obvious reasons; there isn’t an easy way to tell your friends and family that the man or woman with whom you share a bed is, legally, your son or father, or your daughter or mother. Consequently, there are no reliable data — or even flimsy data — as to the number of such adoptions, and experts in the field are unwilling to hazard a guess. The practice seems to have taken hold amid the tumult of the 1970s and 1980s, during rampant discrimination and the onset of the AIDS crisis.

Some famous people got round the lack of an option to get married by one adopting the other, it seems. Bayard Rustin and Walter Naegle, pictured, used the legal dodge to protect their interests.

Naegle and Rustin were attracted to each other immediately — they kissed for the first time that day — and became a couple thereafter. During their 10 years together, marriage was not discussed; it simply wasn’t imaginable. .. Rustin wanted to ensure that Naegle — who, at 37 years his junior, would surely outlive him — would inherit his estate, he availed himself of the least-bad option: adoption… Naegle recalled the adoption process: First, his biological mother had to legally disown him. Then a social worker was dispatched to the Rustin-Naegle home in Manhattan to determine if it was fit for a child. “She was apprised of the situation and knew exactly what was happening,” Naegle told me. “Her concern, of course, was that he wasn’t some dotty old man that I was trying to take advantage of, and that I wasn’t some naive young kid that was being preyed upon by an older man.”

The adoption proved a shrewd decision. Naegle, as next of kin, had visiting privileges when Rustin was hospitalized for a perforated appendix and peritonitis and was eventually executor of the will. Despite the oddness of the arrangement, it was, all things considered, legally seamless.

Editorial by Sean McGouran:

Fascinating stuff, for some reason Bayard Rustin is disliked by the (US) far left. He was a member of the Communist Party of the USA, and queer.  The CPUSA (The Communist Party USA) told him to keep both matters under his hat, but it is difficult to know what the Lefties want[ed].  Rustin  was a great organisation-man, he planned Dr. Marin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership’s great 1966 ‘March on Washington’.  

 Tantamount to an invasion by about a million (mostly ‘Black’ / African Americans) by car, coach, rail, air – from all States (including Hawaii, so far as I can figure out.  It became a State of the Union in 1958.  Was Alaska ten years later?).  It was  wonderful achievement for an organisation with practically no employee.  That was where King gave his “Free at last!  Free at last!” speech, which led to the (very speedy) passage of the Civil Rights Act.  Even the reddest of red-necks realised that such organisational genius could be put to other uses, like possibly organising an underground army (‘Blacks’ in the Southland already were arming themselves).

   The Klan invaded an all-Black village in North Carolina (for about the thousandth time) but this time the “Niggers” shot back!

2 replies
  1. David McFarlane
    David McFarlane says:

    Excellent, he is worth keeping in the public view, a good many preacher-men in Black / African-America would like to rub him out of history. African-American queers haven’t picked-up on him, presumably it is the Communist connection. Quite what Rustin was supposed to do, Heaven knows; he wash’t the only one, by no mean all Black, who were disgusted by the ‘Dixiecrat’ element in the Democrat Party.
    Nixon resolved all that in the early 1970s by making the Republicans a Conservative party – it started life as the radical party – in the 1850s.

  2. David McFarlane
    David McFarlane says:

    The following article was published in Gay History ‘Gay Marriage in the UK’ – …Gay Marriage in England, Scotland and Wales

    The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 became law on 17 July 2013. The Act permitted same sex marriages in England and Wales commencing from 29 March 2014. Couples wishing to be among the first to marry had to give formal notice of their intention to marry on 13 March 2014…

    Please look at the rest of the article. Gay Marriage in England, Scotland and Wales

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