Donnie McClurkin — a Christian gospel singer who controversially claims that Jesus helped him eliminate his attractions to other men — is set to appear at a celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr., an event at which President Barack Obama is slated to speak. According to LGBT newspaper The Washington Blade, McClurkin is scheduled to appear this Saturday evening at a concert being held at the site of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C..
Activists are unhappy to see McClurkin on the bill after his remarks in the past comparing LGBT people to drug addicts and gang members.
In a 2007 interview, McClurkin described his acknowledgement of his same sex attractions as a downward spiral in which he became an unwanted “broken man.”
“In homosexuality, there’s always someone to abuse you,” he said. “My lust for man and lust for God was pulling me one way and tearing me apart.”
God, said McClurkin, sees LGBT people the same way he allegedly sees drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and gang members — as potential Christian converts and evangelists in training. McClurkin believes that all people have to do is accept God into their hearts and lives, and the urge to “sin” will supposedly disappear.
LGBT and civil rights activists Phil Pannell strenuously opposes McClurkin’s inclusion on a concert roster dedicated to celebrating freedom and equal rights.
“The statements he has made are just vile,” Pannell told the Blade. “This is a District government sanctioned event, and I just find it incredible that they can do something like this.”
The U.S. “ex-gay” movement has fallen on hard times in recent years. A July rally held on the steps of the Supreme Court that was expected by organizers to attract “tens of thousands” in fact drew less than 10 attendees.
Exodus, International, the chain of “reparative therapy” clinics that specialized in exactly the type of spiritual conversion that McClurkin claims made him heterosexual — some call it the “pray away the gay” approach — shut down entirely earlier this summer. The CEO of Exodus, Alan Chambers, went so far as to issue a blanket apology to LGBT people everywhere for any harm he or his organization may have caused in their lives.
An American Psychological Association task force concluded in 2009 that not only is “reparative” or conversion therapy ineffective, it is actively detrimental to participants’ long term mental and emotional health. After-effects of reparative therapy, said the team, included “loss of sexual feeling, depression, suicidality and anxiety.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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