The Obama gospel concert where Donnie McClurkin performed was last night. The NY Times reports:
The whole controversy might have been forgotten in the swell of gospel sound except Mr. McClurkin turned the final half hour of the three-hour concert into a revival meeting about the lightning rod he has become for the Obama campaign.
He approached the subject gingerly at first. Then, just when the concert had seemed to reach its pitch and about to end, Mr. McClurkin returned to it with a full-blown plea: "Don't call me a bigot or anti-gay when I have suffered the same feelings," he cried.
"God delivered me from homosexuality," he added. He then told the audience to believe the Bible over the blogs: "God is the only way." The crowd sang and clapped along in full support.
I haven't said much about this mini-controversy since I just thought the guy was hired to sing and Obama was just trying to get votes out of the whole shebang. Including a gay pastor was icing on the cake, I thought, since people would go to see McClurkin and learn a little more about the gays.
But this is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.
Here we have a presidential candidate at a concert that this campaign put on with one of the singers preaching about the suffering that is homosexuality and how we can all pray-away-the-gay, and this candidate isn't a Republican. He's a Democrat.
This is proof enough that we aren't invited into Obama's big tent. Sure, we can go in there, but we're going to have to put up with attacks on our identity while everyone cheers on.
And what about Rev. Andy Sidden, the gay person of faith who was going to address the crowd?
Even an openly gay minister whom Mr. Obama had invited after the fact to try to appease his gay and lesbian critics spoke so early that few people heard him.
CNN adds more:
Sidden's appearance was notably brief and anti-climactic: He said a short prayer to the auditorium at the very beginning of the program, when the arena was only about half full, and then he left.
That sounds like a half-assed attempt to have it both ways to me. Put the gay guy in there, but make sure that almost no one sees him. Then, for the standing-room only part, give the floor to the ex-gay to preach.
The narratives adopted by those discussing the flap have been rather bothersome. Either it was "Christian vs. gay" or "Black vs. gay". Well, when those battles are set up, we lose, and Black gays and Christian gays lose even bigger. There were ways to ease these dichotomies without Obama having an anti-gay minister appear on his stage addressing a crowd of prospective Obama supporters and telling them that you can pray-away-the-gay and that homosexuality is suffering. There are ways to bring people together, people who should be brought together, without having one group trump another as if this is some sort of contest for who'll have representation come 2009.
This reminds me of something Patricia Williams described, from back when Rush Limbaugh was starting to become popular, that people would play his racist tirades in public spaces to make others feel unwelcome. There wasn't any textual discrimination there, no one was being forced away from those public spaces that were meant to be for everyone. But when made to feel entirely unwelcome, she would leave the taxi cab playing Rush or the restaurant with the radio tuned to his show. No laws were violated, but she was made to feel unwelcome enough that she would leave "voluntarily".
That's what this noise from the Obama camp is like. He says he supports us on the issues as much as any other Democrat does, but when he starts to turn up this noise, it's hard to put up with, hard to feel welcome under. His tent is big, and that's cool, but he gave the stage for someone to attack another group of people in that tent, and a lot of us don't like feeling attacked.
Obama stepped right in on this one. McClurkin can say that he's against discrimination all he wants, telling people that homosexuality is a choice that leads to suffering justifies all sorts of discrimination.
But I don't really care about his opinions. But the fact that they were preached at a Democrat's campaign rally just reminds me of where we are in this party, just how much they know that we can't really go anywhere else.
Except, of course, when it's primary season.