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November 04, 2007

OBAMA'S ANTI-GAY GAMBLE

I wrote the following two articles for Gay City News -- New York's largest lesbian and gay weekly. The first appeared on October 25; the second on November 1:

Barack_obama PART I: OBAMA'S ANTI-GAY GAMBLE

Senator Barack Obama (left) has enrolled a trio of notorious anti-gay bigots to campaign for him in the South - and when a blogosphere firestorm erupted over the move, Obama compounded his betrayal of the gay community by refusing to dump the homohaters.

This past weekend, the Illinois Democratic senator's presidential campaign announced a three-day, gospel music campaign tour through South Carolina it billed as "Embrace the Courage" featuring four singers - Reverend Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary (a sister act duo), and Reverend Hezekiah Walker, all prominent in the gospel world. The tour was designed to mark the final days of Obama's "40 Days of Faith and Family" campaign in South Carolina, a critical early primary state.

McClurkin, an evangelical minister and a Grammy Award-winner, has told the Washington Post that he's in "a war" against what he calls "the curse of homosexuality."

Moreover, McClurkin (right) is the poster boy for the African-American "ex-gay" Donnie_mcclurkin movement. He claims that he became homosexual after having been molested by relatives when he was eight and 13, but was "cured" by religion.

As McClurkin explained it to Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: "There was a big 20-year gap of sexual ambiguity where after the rape my desires were toward men, and I had to fight those things because I knew that it wasn't what we were taught in church was right. And the older I got, the more that became a problem, because those were the first two sexual relationships that I had. Eight years old and 13 years old. So that's what I was molded into. And I fought that. When I tell you from eight to 28, that was my fight - in the church. And you were in an environment where there were hidden, you know, vultures I call them, that are hidden behind frocks and behind collars and behind - you know, reverends and the deacons, and it becomes a preying ground, a place where the prey is hunted, and that was what it was like."

And, McClurkin, who leads a congregation in Freeport, Long Island, told the Post, "I've been through this and have experienced God's power to change my lifestyle... I am delivered and I know God can deliver others, too."

"The gloves are off and if there's going to be a war, there's going to be a war. But it is a war with a purpose," he said on Pat Robertson's "700 Club," according to a 2004 post on John Arovosis' Americablog.com. "I'm not in the mood to play with those who are trying to kill our children."

But it's not only McClurkin whose star presence on the Obama campaign tour is repulsive. Walker (Hezekiah_walkerleft), another Grammy Award-winner who is the Pentecostal pastor of a Brooklyn mega-church, the Love Fellowship Tabernacle, has been described as "disturbingly and publicly anti-gay" by "hip-hop intellectual" Professor Mark Lamont Hill of Temple University. (Walker likes to call himself the "hip-hop pastor" for having recorded with Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, a member of his church.)

And the Mary Mary sisters (right) compare gays to murderers and prostitutes. In anMary_mary  interview with Vibe magazine, one of the singers said, "They [Gays] have issues and need somebody to encourage them like everybody else - just like the murderer, just like the one full of pride, just like the prostitute."

Some of the strongest denunciations of these musical bigots headlining Obama's campaign tour have come from African Americans.

H_alexander_robinson For example, H. Alexander Robinson (left), the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, an African-American LGBT group, issued a press release denouncing the McClurkin-Walker-Mary Mary trio's star role in the campaign as "shocking" and "hurtful" because "collectively, these artists have spoken aggressively against the LGBT community without apology."

One of the first to blow the whistle on the Obama gospel music tour was African-American political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author of "The Emerging Black GOP Majority." In an October 20 piece for the Huffington Post entitled, "Obama Should Repudiate and Cancel His Gay Bash Tour, and Do It Now," Hutchinson wrote, "Obama ripped a page straight from the Bush campaign playbook."

Hutchinson (right) noted that McClurkin's "last effort on the political scene was his songEarl_ofari_hutchinson  and shill for Bush's reelection at the Republican National Convention in 2004. Obama has hitched his string to McClurkin's high-flying gay bash kite in part out of religious belief (he purports to be somewhat of an evangelical), in bigger part because he's falling further and further behind Hillary Clinton with the black vote in South Carolina and everywhere else, and in the biggest part of all because he hopes that what worked for Bush's reelection will work for him."

Hutchinson added that McClurkin is "popular, and gospel plays big with blacks in South Carolina, especially black evangelicals, and many of them openly and even more of them quietly loathe gays."

Irene_monroe And another African-American blogger, Reverend Irene Monroe (right), a Ford Fellow and doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School, wrote: "In the highly competitive race for black evangelical votes in South Carolina, McClurkin just might give Obama the needed edge. However, that edge will come at a cost far greater than having McClurkin at his side. It comes at revealing how Obama is not only a vote-whore, but a race-card user as well. The Obama/McClurkin alliance introduces Obama to McClurkin's black and white Southern evangelical base, which thinks Obama is neither Christian nor black enough. And many observers are starting to realize just how much of a vote-whore Obama is."

And Monroe added, "Obama is proving that his campaign, marketed as 'The Audacity of Hope,' is really based on the audacity of hypocrisy."

So quickly and widely did unhappiness spread among Obama's own supporters over the anti-gay singers' lead campaign role that his campaign manager was forced to schedule a conference call with big gay financial contributors to the senator to try to justify the tour.

But even though he had an opportunity to cut himself loose from the bigots after the controversy over them broke, Obama didn't exactly "embrace the courage." He contented himself with issuing a press release in which he said, "I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as president of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division."

But the anti-gay bigots stay on the campaign tour. The candidate pledged to add an out gay minister to the roster though none has been named.

It's worth noting that Obama's campaign Web site posted his disagreement with McClurkin only in its LGBT section - but not with the other press releases.

If a presidential candidate had been caught scheduling a vote-getting tour with a trio of anti-Semites, that candidate would be toast. And even if one is generous enough to ascribe scheduling the tour with the gay-hating gospel singers to lousy staff work, when Obama had the chance to step away from them and cancel their role in the tour, he didn't do it.

Obama has been a loud god-botherer ever since he announced he was running for president - it's the reason he's refused to endorse marriage equality for same-sexers. And the dangers of mixing religion and politics were never more glaring than in this latest episode.

Obama's cynical, vote-seeking gamble that he can pander to Southern bigotry by campaigning with the anti-gay gospel trio while mouthing pro-gay platitudes, and get away with it, shows that he's just a bloviating empty suit from the Windy City.

PART II: GOSPEL PREACHER'S ANTI-GAY RANT AT OBAMA CONCERT

The controversy over what Mother Jones magazine called Senator Barack Obama's "pander-to-black-hatred tour" featuring homophobic "ex-gay" preacher-singer Donnie McClurkin continued this past week.

An Obama gospel concert was held on Sunday, October 28, in Columbia, South Carolina as the final stage in what the presidential candidate billed as a "Forty Days of Faith and Family" tour of the Palmetto State. A September poll conducted by Winthrop University and ETV showed that 74 percent of South Carolina African Americans believe homosexuality is "unacceptable."

In an attempt to mollify the widespread protests by the LGBT community over McClurkin's appearance, the Obama campaign had hastily arranged at the last minute for an openly gay South Carolina pastor, Andy Sidden, to join the roster at the concert. But Sidden's appearance was notably brief and anti-climactic; he said a short prayer to the auditorium at the very beginning of the program, when the arena was only about half full, and then he left.

The Obama campaign had assured members of the LGBT community that McClurkin - who has told the Washington Post that he's in "a war" against what he calls "the curse of homosexuality" - would not use the event to speak against what he claims is "the choice" of homosexuality.

Donnie_mcclurkin_preaching Instead, McClurkin (left) delivered what outspoken Obama supporter Andrew Sullivan, who is openly gay, afterward described on his blog as a "rant."

McClurkin, in his impassioned, angry outburst at his gay critics - who, he claimed, were trying to "vilify" him - shouted, "God delivered me from homosexuality!" A portion of his remarks at the concert can be seen by clicking here 

Sullivan, who just two nights earlier had sidestepped a question about the gospel singer's connection to the campaign on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," wrote, "McClurkin, in short, should never have been allowed to speak at this event, because his words are inherently divisive, his record of comments on gay people offensive, and the point of the event was allegedly unifying... I still believe that broadly speaking, [Obama's] is the only major candidacy right now that offers the kind of change we need. But what happened on that stage was inexcusable, stupid, and damaging. I don't blame any gay American for jumping the Obama ship over it."

One of Obama's most prominent gay supporters has already quit the campaign over the McClurkin affair - Bob Farmer, whom the Washington Post has called a "legendary fundraiser." The openly gay Farmer, who is from Boston, first came to national prominence as chief fundraiser for the 1988 presidential drive of then-Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis; served as finance chair of the Democratic National Committee during President George H.W. Bush's administration; was a top fundraiser for Bill Clinton; and in 2004 served as national treasurer for John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Farmer resigned from the Obama campaign last Friday, in what a source close to him told this reporter was "disgust" at Obama's refusal to cancel McClurkin's campaign appearance after the protests against it began.

Meanwhile, African-American journalist Clay Cane, who writes for Vibe magazine, published a lengthy interview this Tuesday on his blog (http://claycane.blogspot.com/) with a man who claimed he had a sexual affair with McClurkin "twice a month" from 2001 to 2004, which Cane noted "is ironically during the height of McClurkin's anti-gay rants and calls for conversion."

The man, who was identified only with the pseudonym "Rob," said that McClurkin's preaching against homosexuality and claims to have been "cured" of it by Christ are phony and hypocritical.

"Rob" said that McClurkin "gets into role playing, which is of course he's the bottom and he wants you to treat him rough. He wants to talk rough and that's not my demeanor, that's not in me. I can play a role and I did it, but I didn't feel comfortable because it wasn't me. I felt stupid actually... He was like a different person, the tone of his voice. He referred to his asshole as 'pussy.' Stuff like that, 'You want to fuck this pussy, don't you?' You know that type of thing."

Asked by Cane, "Was there any talk in your conversations about being gay is wrong, this is an abomination, or conversion?" the man called "Rob" replied, "Early on, no - he would relate it to being lonely. Not being able to be who you really want to be, who you are, and that was a little later. I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'Well, I'm in gospel, I have fans, I'm about to start this church, and the church has a lot of promise. It can be a big thing,' which it ended up being. He said, 'I have a position to uphold and I have an image, but the thing is I know who I am and I'm going to have to work on some things; I have some things to work on.' I said, 'Is it that simple? Can you just work on it like that? Cut on a switch'... He feels that he has to say that to please people. He said, 'I don't want people to believe that I'm still doing it.'"

At the same time, the Obama campaign released a statement signed by some of its religious and gay supporters in support of McClurkin's campaign appearance, claiming that an event starring the anti-gay preacher was part of Obama's commitment to "dialogue."

The pronouncement asserted that while "Obama has said that he 'strongly disagrees' with Pastor McClurkin's comments, he will not exclude from his campaign the many Americans including many in the African-American community who believe the same as Pastor McClurkin."

Furthermore, the statement said, "We believe that Barack Obama is constructing a tent big enough for LGBT Americans who know that their sexual orientation is an innate and treasured part of their being, and for African-American ministers and citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters. And if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, and engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree."

A majority of the seven non-religious gay signatories to the statement were identified by the Obama campaign as former directors or staff members of the Human Rights Campaign.

Condemnation of the Obama campaign's statement was swift in the blogosphere. For example, John Aravosis, writing on his AmericaBlog, said, "I simply don't believe that Obama would have the same reaction, be just as welcoming, if we were talking about racists or anti-Semites. He wouldn't say that we're all one big tent. He would kick the racist or the anti-Semite to the curb. Not to mention, 'the big tent' concept traditionally means people who have differing political views, even differing political loyalties (Republican and Democrat). I've never heard a politician invoke the big tent to mean racists and their victims. "

Aravosis went on to write, "This is new. And it's terribly unnerving. I mean, we're to believe that the fact that Obama, alone among Democratic candidates, is willing to openly welcome bigots into his campaign makes him the best candidate for voters concerned about civil rights. And the corollary, the worst candidate for someone who cares about civil rights is the candidate who actually stands up against the bigots. So the best way to promote tolerance is to tolerate and embrace intolerance?"

Aravosis called that logic "wacked."

And in the wake of McClurkin's South Carolina appearance and the Obama campaign statement embracing those who think like McClurkin, openly gay African-American writer and film critic David Ehrenstein wrote - in a Los Angeles Times op-ed October 31 - that Obama's "continued relevance to gay and lesbian African Americans is over."

For complete background on the Obama-McClurkin controversy, see this reporter's article in last week's Gay City News, "Obama's Anti-Gay Gamble," the online version of which is linked from this story on gaycitynews.com. Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at http://direland.typead.com/direland.

Posted by Direland at 01:15 PM | Permalink

Comments

Homophobia manifests in different forms, and a number of different types have been postulated, among which are internalized homophobia, social homophobia, emotional homophobia, rationalized homophobia, and others.There were also ideas to classify homophobia, racism, and sexism as an intolerant personality disorder.Homophobia is not mentioned directly in any diseases classifications (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems). For some, homophobia is a non-clinical term.

Posted by: generic viagra | Jan 19, 2010 12:37:23 PM

Among some more discussed forms of homophobia are institutionalized homophobia (e.g. religious homophobia and state-sponsored homophobia

), lesbophobia - the intersection of homophobia and sexism directed towards lesbians, and internalized homophobia - a form of homophobia among people who experience same-sex attraction regardless of whether or not they identify as LGBT.

Two words originate from homophobia: homophobic (adj.) and homophobe (n.), the latter word being a label for a person who displays homophobia or is thought to do so.

Posted by: buy viagra | Jan 13, 2010 3:53:21 PM

McClurkin and other s like him are COWARDS. African American attitudes are pretty archaic, but what will it matter. Given the passage of time, they won't dominate the political landscape of opinions for long, neither will whites. Soon the day will come for us.

Posted by: PJ | Sep 2, 2009 2:18:38 PM

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