EXCLUSIVE: Donna Summer Denied Making Antigay Remarks That Hurt Her Career
Donna Summer, whose post-'70s career was compromised by antigay remarks she allegedly made at a 1983 concert, disputed ever making the comments, blaming them on an angry journalist, and lamented the impact of AIDS on her close friends, during a 1989 interview with The Advocate.
For a profile in the July 4 1989, issue of The Advocate, writer Kevin Koffler visited the entertainer at her suite at a Los Angeles hotel. Before his interview Koffler pondered the remarks that had been attributed to Summer, whose early success was largely due to her significant gay fan base. "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," is one comment Summer, who'd recently announced she was a born-again Christian, was alleged to have said at a concert in 1983, as the AIDS epidemic had begun to wreak havoc on the LGBT community. "I have seen the evils of homosexuality; AIDS is the result of your sins" was another. Later in the interview Summer denied ever making either remark.
The following is an excerpt from the 1989 profile:
“I did not make that statement,” Summer says angrily. “Eight years ago, I made a reference to AIDS. What I supposedly said I did not say, and my reference to AIDS was really an innocent reference.
“At the time, I thought AIDS was a herpes pimple, like you get on your mouth. I certainly didn’t have any idea what it really was and certainly if I had, in my heart I would not wish AIDS on anyone. I’m not that kind of person. It’s one of the most horrifying diseases around. I don’t think they’re doing enough for it.
“I’ve lost a lot of friends who have died of AIDS,” continues Summer, tears welling in her eyes. “I’m hurting as much as anyone else at the amount of people who are gone. Last year was an incredible year in terms of friends of mine who died – people who ran my first album, who were really close to me, beautiful guys, and I mean beautiful guys. It is devastating.”
“In the past two years, I’ve done several AIDS benefits, but I’m not going to do AIDS benefits to prove to something that I’m not antigay. Some of the most creative people in this country are gay and have given great things. I have people on my family who are gay. I have people in my life, who have been in my life before any of this stuff went on, who are gay.
“A couple of the people I write with are gay, and they have been ever since I met them. What people want to do with their own bodies is their personal preference. I’m not going to stand in judgment about what the Bible says about someone else’s life. I’ve got things in my own life I’ve got to clean up. What’s in your life is your business.
“I never said, ‘If you are gay, God hates you.’ Come on. Be real. I don’t understand that. Anybody who really knows me knows I wouldn’t say that.
“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.
“I’m not going to defend myself. People are just going to say, ‘She can say anything now’ But if I wrote a vicious story about you and put it in the newspaper, I guarantee that you would run into it for the rest of your life. It’s always going to be in the back of people’s minds, whether you said it or not.
“It hurts. It makes me ache. I can’t stand to talk about it because it hurts so bad. When I first started, they said I was a man — a transvestite. That too was a rumor. It passed.”