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Elias Taylor Rustin: Unveiling the Journey of a Visionary

“Rustin,” a drama-documentary film from Netflix, is a true original, combining elements of suspense, haunting, encouragement, and unquestionable necessity. It is directed by George C. Wolfe. This is due to the fact that it thoroughly examines the story of civil rights, nonviolent protestor, and LGBT rights advocate Bayard Rustin as he devoted his life to bringing complete equality to the forefront. If we are being completely honest, though, Elias Taylor was the one who ultimately managed to come across as the story’s most elaborately nuanced character. For those of you who just want to know more about him, here’s what we know.

Elias Taylor is a Fictional Character Sprinkled With Realism

Elias, an Alabama-born field organiser for the civil rights movement, won over everyone with his tough-guy demeanour from the first minute he stepped in front of the camera. But what really touched people was his even more direct private meeting with Bayard a short while later, in which he not only supported the campaigner but made it apparent that, despite being married, he was interested in more than just a professional relationship. He couldn’t deny his reality and desires, even though he had a church ready for him after his pastor father-in-law retired, six close siblings, two loving parents, and a strong-willed wife.

Netflix/David Lee image credit
Put differently, Elias was a gay man living in secret who later had a passionate relationship with the openly gay Bayard while the latter was planning the 1963 March on Washington. However, the reality is that Elias never truly lived. This activist had relationships with a number of guys before things ended because they needed their privacy, but Elias was never actually there in his life. Therefore, this fictional character is merely a mix of all these loves to highlight the struggles that LGBT people faced in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly those who were of colour and religious minorities.

Furthermore, Ledisi’s original song “The Knowing,” which plays during the film’s closing credits, sheds light on this experience in the most heartbreaking yet exquisite way. The songwriter Branford Marsalis and Ledisi “decided the song would have two dimensions: Part 1 would be sensual — relevant to Rustin’s feelings for Elias — and Part 2 would be aspirational — how their actions would eventually lead to a world where people can simply exist,” Marsalis said in a recent interview. She left to create the song’s lyrics and returned with what you hear. In fact, you can listen to it right here.

Netflix/David Lee image credit
Even though Elias and Bayard eventually parted ways after the latter was named as his father-in-law’s replacement as a preacher and his wife discovered they were expecting, this two-part album is really hopeful. At the time, the former was falling in love, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead, a pledge, responsibility, and fear of society, God, and oneself took precedence over their tale, Elias’ truth, and their inner happiness. While Bayard’s true life did have a happy ending when he met and married artist and photographer Walter Naegle in early 1977, their union lasted until the latter’s untimely death on August 24, 1987, a decade later.

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