In 2007 I was a part of a contingent that protested against an Obama fundraising concert featuring gospel singer and "ex-gay" Donnie McClurkin in Columbia, S.C. That was the event where McClurkin said the following:
Don't call me a bigot or anti-gay when I have been touched by the same feelings, when I have suffered with the same feelings. Don't call me a homophobe when I love everybody. ... Don't tell me that I stand up and I say vile words against the gay community, because I don't. I don't speak against the homosexual. I tell you that God delivered me from homosexuality.
It's sad how people tend to forget that McClurkin made those comments at the concert itself, before a huge host of supporters who gave him a standing ovation. It's relatively easy to make bold statements in front of supporters.
McClurkin never specifically addressed us protestors or our concerns, which had nothing to do with his claim of being an "ex-gay" and everything to do with comments he made connecting homosexuality with pedophilia and child molestation. He was being very disingenuous then, just as he is being now when faced with new controversy over other anti-gay comments he made.
On Saturday McClurkin was disinvited from a D.C. concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom because of the "potential controversy" his participation would cause.
Now, while McClurkin has been quick to play the victim and claim that he has never spoken derogatorily about the gay community, the video below contradicts his claim. It is footage of McClurkin at the Church of God in Christ Youth Conference 2009. At the 6:17 mark he begins harping on "feminine men." Then, at the 8:23 mark, he begins talking about how he was molested when he was 8 years old. It's an awful story, which he proceeds to make worse by linking pedophilia with homosexuality.
Through it all McClurkin seems to be implying that the existence of gay men is the result of a lack of good parents and an abundance of evil predators. That sounds pretty derogatory to me.
Don't get me wrong: My heart goes out to him. What happened to him as a child is an awful thing, but homosexuality is not determined by pedophilia. Gay men are not the products of child molestation. It's an ugly thing to imply otherwise, and for him to now claim that he has not spoken derogatorily about gay people when there is hard evidence to the contrary is highly dishonest. One could even say McClurkin is lying.
And it's because of the comments that McClurkin made at the COGIC Youth Conference 2009 that he recently found himself disinvited from the concert marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
My opinion is that he should have never been invited in the first place. The March on Washington was coordinated and successfully engineered by an openly gay black man, Bayard Rustin. Rustin was an integral part of the civil rights movement. However, he never received his due while he lived. He had to stay in the background because of ignorance and homophobia from both the black community and the white community. Does it make sense to honor the 50th anniversary of a march whose coordinator was shoved in the background because of homophobia by inviting a performer who is perpetuating homophobia in the present day? Absolutely not.
Everyone should remember this incident, because it illustrates what LGBT African Americans have to deal with in our own community and churches. We are constantly put down by wannabe "pastors," "prophets," "bishops," and "anointed ones," or, in the case of McClurkin, gospel singers who seem to think that the ability to carry a good tune gives them carte blanche to speak about subjects they obviously know nothing about, without a thought to who might be hurt by their words.
McClurkin should forget talking about how God "delivered" him from homosexuality so that he can pray that God delivers him from ignorance.