Donna Summer Disputed Antigay Remarks in 1989 Letter to ACT UP

By Jeremy Kinser

Originally published on Advocate.com June 12 2012 3:37 PM ET

Late entertainer Donna Summer wrote a letter to ACT UP, the AIDS activist group, that addressed protests and described the antigay remarks attributed to her as "unjust and unfair," writes Peter Staley in his Poz.com blog.

Summer's extraordinary career during the late 1970s was largely due to her predominantly gay fan base. A backlash against her music and concert performances was caused by antigay remarks that were attributed to her during a 1983 concert, and which she later denied making. Staley, who joined ACT UP in 1987, recalls organized protests against Summer's appearances and even the paying of one of her songs during a Boston Pride event in 1989.

In the letter mailed to ACT UP, which Staley transcribed, Summer says she was initially shielded from the controversy by her manager. "Since then, however, I have made numerous replies and spoken openly to try and clear up this misunderstanding," she writes. "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."

Read the letter on the following pages.

Summer also refuted the remarks attributed to her during a 1989 interview with The Advocate, in which she said, "“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."