Saturday, February 9, 2008

Obama's Gay Bashing Gospel Tour

It seems like a lifetime ago, ans some may have already forgotten that it was just October 2007 when Obama proudly launched a gospel tour in South Carolina that included rabid anti-gay performers.
Rod 2.0 writes: "The 2008 election cycle cruises into a fresh round of gay-bashing. On the same weekend the Republican presidential candidates pander to the Christian Right and attempt to cast themselves as "true" social conservatives, the Barack Obama campaign announces a gospel concert tour across South Carolina to create some much needed traction. The line-up is disturbing.

Gospel acts including Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and Hezekiah Walker, Byron Cage and the Mighty Clouds of Joy are scheduled to appear.

"This is another example of how Barack Obama is defying conventional wisdom about how politics is done and giving new meaning to meeting people at the grassroots level," Joshua DuBois, the campaign’s religious affairs director, said in a release. "This concert tour is going to bring new people into the political process and engage people of faith in an unprecedented way."

This has already been nicknamed the "gay-bash" tour because three of the acts are on the record for rebuking the "gay lifestyle." Mary Mary, the enormously popular duo, has a large gay following but has compared gays to murderers and prostitutes. Hezekiah Walker is a minister of the Pentecostal faith, traditionally inhospitable to gays, and, heads a Brooklyn mega-church well-known for its anti-gay views. Walker was also the subject of an unfounded gay rumor that has become urban legend.

The piece de resistance: Donnie McClurkin, the famously "ex-gay" gospel singer who emerged from sexual abuse and 20 plus years of "active" homosexuality to evangelize against the gays. "What makes his otherwise inspiring story so troubling is that he is now violating young people in much the same way that he was violated," Keith Boykin pens one of the most definitive profiles of the "ex-gay" evangelist: "By teaching young people that they can pray their way out of who they are, he is essentially creating a generation of newly confused adolescents." The New York Times reports the gospel tour but does not mention McClurkin's back story—an odd omission because several of their top political reporters are gay.

McClurkin has performed for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—the "ex-gay" gospel singer is seen below over the shoulder of Erica and Tina Campbell of Mary Mary—and belongs to the anti-choice and anti-gay, black mega church wing of the Republican Party. He has also campaigned for the President.
To capitalize upon the entrenched homophobia in the black church. "Bush masterfully tapped that homophobic sentiment in 2000 in part with McClurkin," Earl Ofari Hutchinson notes in the Huffington Post, describing the gospel tour as a "gay bash tour." And "even more masterfully in 2004 again with McClurkin and the top gun mega black preachers in Ohio and Florida. He tapped it so masterfully that Bush's naked pander to gay bashing with the GOP spawned anti-gay marriage initiative in Ohio" and helped him win re-election.

McClurkin and his defenders will argue he is simply a performer and there is no overt political or moral message to his appearance. Not true. By definition, gospel music is "spreading the message", and, McClurkin's revisionist ex-gay and anti-gay messaging is well-known and well-received by the black religious community. Does this mean Obama endorses the "ex-gay" movement? Probably not, he's been fairly strong on gay issues (PDF) and belongs to a progressive, pro-gay denomination. On the other hand, don't expect the senator to cancel the tour because he desperately needs black support if he is hopes to win in South Carolina. Unfortunately to make this happen, he's throwing gays under the bus that chauffeurs his gospel tour."