I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. You know the ones. “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” “I have seen the evils of homosexuality; AIDS is the result of your sins.” “I’ll pray for you tonight.” “Now don’t get me wrong; God loves you. But not the way you are now.” Those quotes were attributed to her by Jim Farber in the Village Voice writing about a concert Summer gave in Atlantic City in 1983. That was the year she hit with “She Works Hard for the Money,” her biggest hit in four years. Her biggest hit since becoming a born-again Christian.
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. I remember them being reported, but I don’t remember reading about her saying anything like them before or since that evening.
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. Though I don’t remember her doing so, she apparently sent out a press release in 1984 that read, in part, “It is a source of great concern to me that anything I may have said has cast me as homophobic … all I can ask for is understanding as I believe my true feelings have been misinterpreted.”
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. Still, the story about her alleged comments continued to circulate. Many gay clubs wouldn’t play her records. After “She Works Hard for the Money” hit and the comments were allegedly made, her sales faltered. There were no top ten hits for her in 1984. In 1985. In 1986. In 1987. In 1988. In 1989, she teamed up with gay production trio Stock, Aitken and Waterman for the album Another Place and Time that produced the top ten single “This Time I Know It’s For Real.” The story of the comments got louder. ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, picketed her concerts.
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. I know she sent a letter to ACT UP in 1989 in which she wrote “I cannot force you to believe what I tell you, so if you choose to continue on with this fighting and arguing, that’s up to you. I did not say God is punishing gays with aids, I did not sit with ill intentions in judgement over your lives. I haven’t stopped talking to my friends who are gay, nor have I ever chosen my friends by their sexual preferences. We have too many good memories together to live in this state of unforgiveness. I never denied you or turned away, but in fact you turned away from me. If I have caused you pain, forgive me. It was never my intention to reject you but to extend myself in love.” Her record label sent a statement from the singer to the Village Voice and gay news magazine The Advocate in which she said “It is very difficult for me to believe this terrible misunderstanding continues. Since the very beginning of my career, I have had tremendous support and friendship from many in the gay community. It is a source of great concern to me that anything I may have said has cast me as homophobic. My medium of expression is music, all I can ask for is understanding as I feel my true feelings have been misrepresented. As a Christian, I have nothing but love for everyone and I recognize it is not my place to judge others.” Of course, being a Christian and making homophobic statements are not mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary. Many of those who claim to be Christian use their religious views as excuses to make hateful remarks and discriminate. However,…
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. She went on to tell The Advocate “I’ve lost a lot of friends who have died of AIDS. I’m hurting as much as anyone else at the amount of people who are gone. Last year was an incredible year in terms of friends of mine who died – people who ran my first album, who were really close to me, beautiful guys, and I mean beautiful guys. It is devastating. In the past two years, I’ve done several AIDS benefits, but I’m not going to do AIDS benefits to prove to something that I’m not antigay. Some of the most creative people in this country are gay and have given great things. I have people on my family who are gay. I have people in my life, who have been in my life before any of this stuff went on, who are gay. A couple of the people I write with are gay, and they have been ever since I met them.”
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. In 1991, New York magazine repeated the comments and reported them as fact. Summer filed a $50 million against the magazine for libel. The suit was settled out of court.
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments. I do know that she has a fantastic catalog of music. I get so much joy from her records and I’m not going to let horrible comments that she may not have said take away that joy. It’s not a matter of forgiving her – she’s the Christian, not me. I just choose to not malign the woman over comments I have no proof she made. I choose to focus on the positive things she bought to my life, for life is too short. Summer was only 63 when she died in 2012.
I don’t know if Donna Summer made those comments, but I do know that making a playlist of only twenty of her songs (okay, twenty-two – one is a medley) was a challenge for this big fan. Here is what I came up with. Enjoy it! However, you choose to celebrate Donna Summer’s birthday this evening, do it safely. Have a happy!
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