The office of Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has pressured the "ex-gay" Grammy Award winning gospel singer and evangelist Donnie McClurkin to "withdraw as a performer at a city-sponsored concert" scheduled to take place to tonight at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, reports Lou Chibarro at the Washington Blade.
McClurkin’s withdrawal from the event, which is being organized by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, came one day after local gay activist and longtime civil rights advocate Phil Pannell called the gospel singer’s public statements on homosexuality "vile."
Pannell and other LGBT activists said McClurkin’s participation in the event would be at odds with King’s call for ending discrimination and injustice against all people.
"The Mayor directed the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to ask Donnie McClurkin to withdraw," Gray spokesperson Doxie McCoy told the Blade in an email. "No disrespect to Mr. McClurkin, but Mayor Gray thought it best that he withdraw from the concert in the name of not having his appearance to be a distraction at an event about peace, love and justice for all," McCoy said.
Tonight's concert is the first in a series of events over the next two weeks that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream" at the march, which was one of the seminal events of the Civil Rights Movement.
The 1963 March on Washington was organized by the openly gay and late Bayard Rustin, the top lieutenant and strategist to Dr. King. The White House announced this week that President Barack Obama has posthumously named Rustin as one of sixteen new recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The infamously "ex-gay"—or perhaps merely "re-closeted"—McClurkin has delivered a series of infamous rants against gay men, lesbians and LGBT youth in recent years. In November 2009, McClurkin preached an incendiary attack against LGBT youth and recently out gospel singer Tonex at the Church of God in Christ's Holy Convocation Youth Service in Memphis. McClurkin's hateful sermon went viral across the internet. McClurkin compared LGBT youth to "vampires" and added: "I see feminine men, feminine boys, everywhere I go. These young girls are just as bad as the boys ... there are some evil young hard butch girls."
The "ex-gay" singer and evangelist headlined Boston's 2010 Gospel Fest despite similar calls to withdraw his name as a performer. McClurkin has won three Grammy awards, ten Stellar awards and an NAACP Image Award—among other accolades—for his gospel music.
McClurkin has somewhat addressed the persistent rumors about his sexuality and personal life. The gospel singer maintains he is no longer gay ... but has suggested that he still experiences same-sex urges. McClurkin has comparing homosexuality to diabetes: "I don’t eat sugar but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want sugar."
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