Guest Blogger

My Take On The Donnie McClurkin Issue

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 25, 2007 6:45 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Donnie McClurkin, ex-gay

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This guest post comes to us from Terje Anderson, former Executive Director of the National Association of People with AIDS, and a long time activist on queer and HIV/AIDS issues at the local, state, national, and international level.

Taj.jpgAs a proud out gay man and a long time activist, I find myself unable to become as worked up around the issue of gospel singer Donnie McClurkin's inclusion in an Obama concert as many of my colleagues have. McClurkin's bizarre views on the subject are anathema to anyone who cares about equality. Clearly he is a troubled man whose personal struggles with sexuality have caused him to adopt a hateful message. How sad for him, and how unfortunate for all of us that he chooses to spout his hateful speech in public. If McClurkin were running for President (or any other office), I would be working hard to defeat him.

If the Obama campaign had invited him to speak about human sexuality, appointed him to an advisory committee on human rights, or otherwise given him a platform for his views, I would be as angry as so many others seem to be.

But McClurkin isn't supporting the campaign as a spokesperson on these issues. He's singing gospel songs. As it happens, Donnie McClurkin is a talented gospel singer with a huge following, especially among a subset of religious African-Americans. His participation will attract a large number of Democratic voters who are attracted to his voice, not necessarily his viewpoints (which presumably he won't be given the opportunity to voice at the concert). I'm pleased that those attending the concert will also hear an openly gay minister speak ­ not something that usually happens at a gospel concert. Talk about a teachable moment.

Like it or not, any candidate for President needs the support of millions of people who have dramatically different viewpoints on a large number of issues. Rejecting support from all who disagree (even on a fundamental issue) makes it impossible for any candidate to effectively reach the broad spectrum of the American voting public.

Is every candidate for President suddenly going to be held accountable for the views of all their supporters? Will entertainers, politicians, community leaders, bloggers, activists and others who are asked to lend support to a campaign be excluded for holding viewpoints that will be offensive to some voters?

If that is the test, I'm sure we can find plenty of other outrageous examples of homophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, classist, ageist, xenophobic or similarly offensive statements by supporters of other candidates as well. Do we really think Hillary Clinton has never invited an outspokenly homophobic minister to share the stage, or that they weren't invited to the Clinton White House? Are we sure that none of John Edwards southern supporters haven't uttered homophobic statements before (or voted for hate inspired legislation)? For that matter, what are we too make of the fact that Hillary's number one supporter gave us DOMA, DADT, and cost lives by refusing to lift the ban on needle exchange? Should I refuse to vote for her because of the hateful things Bill did for political expediency?

For me, the issue isn't the viewpoints of those who sing at candidate events, but the positions and record of the candidate themselves. Barack Obama¹s record on gay and lesbian issues is clear and consistent. He speaks out loudly and unequivocally on these issues, and his legislative record is clear and without flaws. (And for those white liberals who are somehow convinced that all religious African-Americans are fundamentalist bible-thumpers, it is worth pointing out that Obama belongs to the United Church of Christ, an emphatically progressive church that fully supports gay rights - including marriage.)

With the sad exception of the marriage issue, we are fortunate that all of the candidates for the Democratic nomination are taking clear positions in support of LGBT Americans. Barack Obama¹s policy positions and record in this regard are second to none of the major candidates.

I continue to support Barack Obama because I believe that he is the best candidate for the office. He is uniquely suited to restore America's place in the world, and to change the political dialogue at home. In the end, I believe Barack Obama will be the best President not just for GLBT equality, but for all Americans and the world.

I realize that this may put me in a distinct minority among many who are blogging on this subject. I respect the viewpoints of those who have a different opinion than I do, but I wanted to share my perspectives on the topic.

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Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | October 25, 2007 2:43 PM

Interesting perspective...thanks for sharing it. I need time to mull it over now. I don't know if I agree or disagree.

Homo N Harlem | October 25, 2007 2:57 PM

You make some good points but perhaps are not fully aware of the facts.

After many years of being gay, now Donnie McClurkin claims to be ex-gay. He is also a minister and has a congregation of more than 1000 members. McClurkin preaches his anti-gay, ex-gay message to his church and on the road. How do we feel about ex-gays and ex-gay evangelists?

The gosepl tour itself is not a bad idea. McClurkin and Walker were simply bad choices as headliners.

I agree that this is an interesting perspective. I personally am leaning more towards being a bit put off by this move from the Obama camp.

The only real problem I see with this line of reasoning is that it seems to be okay to use a known homophobe to court a group of voters, implying that that group is more important than the LGBT community. The underlying thought there seems to be "who cares if the man hates LGBT people, he has a good voice and can reach the gospel community." Does that discount the harm he does to our community? Are our "fundamental" beliefs to be so easily sacrificed for more votes? I'm not sure I like where that leads.

It seems to me that it is important for our community to voice our displeasure and concern over this. Does this mean we should bail on Obama? I don't think so, but maybe it means we need to keep a closer eye on his and other candidates’ actions and how they affect our community...

Waymon, the thing is, McClurkin doesn't hate gay people. He's opposed to homosexuality, but also opposed to discrimination. That's ignorant, but not hateful.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | October 25, 2007 4:03 PM

McClurkin doesn't hate gay people. He's opposed to homosexuality,

Kevin, you've brought up this distinction on other threads, too. I don't see the relevance. Hate crimes are rooted in the sort of irrational, fundamentalist Judeo-Christian belief that "homosexuality is sinful." Without the condemnation, fear of sexuality, misogyny, projected guilt and other emotions that flow from Judeo-Christian "opposition to homosexuality," homophobia and hatred of gay people for the most part wouln't exist. There simply is no such thing as "hate the sin, love the sinner." That's called cognitive dissonance.

Brynn, you're right that it's really not a logically coherent position. But it's still a huge step away from the hatred of the Falwell/Phelps crew. That needs to be recognized and affirmed. It's a step forward for all of us.

It's just really foolish to say that everyone who disagrees with homosexuality is hateful, and that it's impossible to find common ground with such people.

In a perfect world, people like Donnie McClurkin would embrace homosexuality as normal. We don't live in that world yet. But it's exciting that these kind of people now oppose discrimination against LGBT people.

I need to mention one more time that I'm not sure McClurkin has ever used the phrase "ex-gay" to describe himself.

Yeah, Kev, but he wrote testimonial for exodus international. I don't know if he used the word "ex=-gay", but it's kinda hard to separate Exodus from that idea.

For the most part I agree with this post. We can either work with or against people like Donnie, and since he's willing to support Obama who's about as good on textual queer equality as the other top dems, then I think that's a step forward or something for him. Or maybe he's just not that politcal.

I find myself agreeing with Mr. Anderson. McClurkin was brought on for his 'entertainment' value and not to speak for or against the GLBT community. If the songs he is singing spew homophobia, that would then reflect poorly on Obama.

Let's face it, McClurkin is one of those conflicted souls who may need our support. By hanging out in the Obama camp maybe, just maybe, he will hook up with some liberal minded (dare I say it, gay) folks who can help him reconcile his own sexuality.

Lemons often end up in Lemonade.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | October 26, 2007 5:24 PM

In a perfect world, people like Donnie McClurkin would embrace homosexuality as normal. We don't live in that world yet.

Aw, c'mon Kevin. Most people get it enough not to get on soapboxes like the Exodus website to spew lies that demean and dehumanize us.

I, too, know evangelicals and, while the research is leaning to their brains being hardwired in such a way that makes fundamentalism more seductive for them than the average human, it has yet to prove them incapable of the sort of social growth necessary not to harbor such idiotic rank bigotry as spouted by Obama's chosen hucksters.

They are not devoid of free will and, as such, cutting them the sort of slack you do does nothing more than let them continue not facing the sorry reality of their bigotry.

I don't have a problem with praising someone for making progress but if you don't also point out that they still haven't finished the journey, how will they know they aren't there yet?

You're treating them as children instead of responsible adults who are accountable for their choices and actions -- exactly the same sort of relationship they have with their churches. That's not a good thing.

No one is suggesting that we refrain from criticizing their ideas and holding them accountable. We just need to smarter and get past the polarization.