I am such a big fan of story corps. The is the npr program of short intimate stories often between family members. Today I heard the story of Bayard Rustin, the great civil rights icon who lived in New York City and was gay. Rustin met and fell in love with a much younger man Walter Naegel in the early 1980s.This was very unconventional because gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships were not legal. Not to even speak of transgender rights.
The only way for them to have a legal relationship was for Bayard to adopt Walter, which he did. I never knew this about Rustin and hearing the story on the weekend of the great victory for equal protection under law for marriage equality was fabulous. There are people whose memories are preserved and shared with so many of us because of this wonderful program called Story Corps. Walter said that when Bayard Rustin died, he told his friends, “we’ve lost him.” Indeed Bayard was a man who meant a lot to many different people. Thank you.
Another tender moment I heard this evening involved Priya Morgentern and her sister Bhavari Jaroff rembering their father Ken Morgenstern. They had recorded their story together as Ken was struggling to live with Alzheimer’s disease. He still remembered his family including his wife who had died 4 years earlier. Although the end was near he remembered how much he loved them all. He had no regrets at all. When Ken died, they played a part of the story corps interview for people to remember him.
The final story was the most recent, with Wil Smith, a father who went through college as a single parent. He secretly kept his daughter in his dorm room because he could not afford off campus housing. Although Smith’s story also ended in death, he inspired his daughter with the way he had put himself through school. That was being a father.