On the heels of a historic Supreme Court ruling that upholds the right of LGBTQ people to marry, we look to the late 1970s—a time where this week’s ruling on marriage equality was unimaginable.
Back then, the iconic civil rights leader Bayard Rustin (left) and his partner, Walter Naegle (right), a man decades his junior, fell in love. They were together for many years.
As Bayard was getting older, they decided to formalize their relationship in the only way that was possible for gay people at the time–Rustin adopted Walter Naegle.
Here, Walter tells his niece, Ericka (pictured above, left), what it was like to fall in love with Bayard, and the unconventional decision they made to protect their union.
Originally aired June 28, 2015, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.