US: ‘Ex-gay’ gospel singer withdraws from performance at Martin Luther King memorial

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At the request of Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray, an “ex-gay” gospel singer withdrew from his performance at a Martin Luther King memorial at the weekend.

Donnie McClurkin, was was announced last week would have joined President Obama to honour the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech on Saturday.

Mr McClurkin is notorious for his statements claiming religion rescued him from homosexuality. In 2007, the singer came under similar controversy when he was scheduled as Barack Obama’s promotional artist in his bid for presidency.

The singer’s withdrawal from the event came a day after LGBT rights activists condemned the decision to scheduled his performance, and following a request from Mr Gray’s office to decline the invitation to perform.

“The Mayor directed the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to ask Donnie McClurkin to withdraw,” a spokesperson for Mr Gay told the Washington Blade in an email.

“No disrespect to Mr McClurkin, but Mayor Gray thought it best that he withdraw from the concert in the name of not having his appearance to be a distraction at an event about peace, love and justice for all,” they continued.

DC Commission on Arts and Humanities Executive Director Lionell Thomas said, “So that Donnie’s participation did not become a distraction from the goals of the program, a mutual decision was reached between the DCCAH and his management team that it was best for him to withdraw from the event.”

In 2008, Mr McClurkin wrote in Barbados’ largest newspaper The Nation: “In homosexuality, there’s always someone to abuse you. My lust for man and lust for God was pulling me one way and tearing me apart.”

He said he was “transformed by the blood of Jesus’ and was ready for a wife.

President Obama has spoken out against anti-gay laws in Russia this month, saying he has “no patience” for countries, like Russia, that intimidate and harm individuals based on their sexual orientation.

The US President also declined a Moscow meeting with Vladimir Putin citing anti-gay laws as one reason.

In January, an all-male African American college, whose graduates include Martin Luther King, launched its first LGBT course.