Late Disco Queen Donna Summer’s legendary career was due largely to her huge homosexual fan base who stuck by her side throughout the years. Then at a 1983 concert she allegedly made anti gay remarks such as “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” and “I have seen the evils of homosexuality; AIDS is the result of your sins.” This was during the time when the AIDS epidemic began to rip through the LGBT community. The comments angered many of Summer’s loyal followers and there were several organized protest of her performances. But now a letter has emerged, written by Summer to AIDS activist group ACT UP denying she ever made the statements in the first place.
“Since then, however, I have made numerous replies and spoken openly to try and clear up this misunderstanding. 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.”
Here is the letter in its entirety, as well as a transcription:
July 26, 1989
Dear Members of Act-Up:
I am really sorry that my reply has taken so long, but this is not a matter that I take lightly and because of my schedule, I was forced to wait until I was clear and not under pressure.
First of all, let me say that these accusations are unjust and unfair. At first, I was unknowingly protected by those around me from the bad press and hate letters I was receiving regarding this matter. During that time I was pregnant (twice in 18 months), was engulfed in a major law suit and several of my family members passed away. My manager, at that time, felt my life and emotional health was at stake so there was no response.
Since then, however, I have made numerous replies and spoken openly to try and clear up this misunderstanding. 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. I know that some of you really need me now because you’ve written and told me so. Can’t we just forgive each other for this past confusion?
My motto in this life is 1st Corinthians 13. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a face that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails, but where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part; but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I love you,
In a 1989 interview with The Advocate, Summer tried to put to rest the whole situation:
“I never started a war against gay people. It all started with one newspaper writer [Jim Feldman, in a 1983 review of Summer’s post-born-again Atlantic City comeback concert, in the Village Voice]. I did not make those statements… The guy who wrote it, I think was angry at me for accepting God. But his attack wasn’t on God; it was on me.”