Here’s a story that almost slipped through the pages: Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin was disinvited to perform at a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial concert in Washington D.C. last Saturday because of concerns about his anti-gay sentiments.
McClurkin was supposed to be headlining the city-sponsored event, which was entitled “Reflections on Peace: Gandhi to King,” but was removed after several local gay activists lodged objections about the idea of an anti-gay singer at a peace event. According to the Washington Post, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said of the decision to withdraw his invitation, “This was an issue involving a potential controversy at an event that was going to focus on harmony and peace, and we just didn’t think that was appropriate for this event.”
In response to his canceled performance, the Grammy Award winning gospel singer released a video response, via social cam, giving his side of the incident, which was pretty similar to what was reported in the Post. However, he also added, “It is unfortunate that today, a black man, a black artist, is uninvited from a civil rights movement depicting the love, the unity, the peace, the tolerance.”
Well, it was Dr. King who advised that we judge folks not based on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, so perhaps the mayor as well as other organizers of the concert had a point.
A sex abuse survivor and self-proclaimed ex-gay, McClurkin has over the years been very vocal about the role his faith has had in “overcoming” his homosexuality. In a series of YouTube videos, McClurkin is seen testifying at the 102nd COGIC Holy Convocation in Memphis about how not having a dad or proper male figure around led to him trying to “find himself through other men in the church.” He described homosexuals in general as “broken people.” He then warns parents to shield their children from the likes of Katy Perry, who is somehow turning these young girls out through homosexuality and how openly gay gospel singer Tonex (now B. Slade) is a “perversion” and must turn to God and basically pray away the gay. “I see feminine men – no, no no, do not applaud like its a bash – it’s because we failed. It’s not the children’s fault…We didn’t father our children.”
So yeah, after taking in that bit of fire and brimstone, I can certainly see why the organizers of the concert felt it wise to renege on their invitation. Of course, whoever was in charge of booking failed miserably in securing entertainment that would appeal to all of its attendees. We are talking about an event, which is largely funded and supported through public dollars, and aims to celebrate the more harmonious aspects of both Gandhi and Dr. King Jr.’s messages. An event being held in a city, which has the highest percentage of an LGBTQA community than any other state in America.
And before folks turn this solely into a debate about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of his personal beliefs, let’s just for a second consider the respect angle. Unlike McClurkin’s own personal testimony, there are plenty of openly proud people within the LGBTQA communities who don’t feel like broken people; who don’t much believe that what they do is a perversion; and are not interested in being converted nor condemned. What they do believe, however, is that they should be able to go to a got-damn concert in their hometown that their tax dollars helped to support without the threat of their existence being publicly called into question.
On a side note – and mainly because I already know that this will turn into a conversation about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of not only the gay “lifestyle” but also gay rights – I truly feel that it is time for folks to recognize and understand how some folks can be twice (sometimes more) maligned and subjugated. More importantly, acknowledging as much doesn’t mean that “someone else” is going to get something more than “us” (i.e. rights). It just means understanding that in addition to being black, being black in addition to something else (be it woman, gay, poor, etc.), can makes things greatly more complicated. We have to fight to ensure that everyone is treated fairly, and more importantly, respected, within the community.