Little Richard, the iconic and influential early rock and roller, has gone back and forth throughout his career on whether he’s gay or antigay — and now he’s back on the antigay side.
Speaking to Three Angels Broadcasting Network, a Christian-oriented company, Little Richard denounced both homosexuality and transgender identity as unnatural and ungodly.
“Anybody come in show business, they’re going to say you’re gay,” he told the network in an interview posted on YouTube last month, excerpted by Ebony in an article published Thursday. “Are you straight? Are you a homosexual something? They’re going to say it. But God, Jesus, he made men, men, he made women, women, you know? And you’ve got to live the way God wants you to live.”
“So much unnatural affection,” he continued. “So much of people just doing everything and don’t think about God.”
Over the course of his career, the singer’s changes of tune on homosexuality have included the following:
“If your brother’s a homosexual, you must protect your little boy from him. Homosexuals are sick. And lesbians are sick too. What real woman would want another woman to touch her? She’d feel like something was crawling on her.” — 1980, to Rolling Stone
“I’ve been gay all my life and I know God is a God of love, not of hate.” — 1995, to Penthouse
“We are all both male and female. Sex to me is like a smorgasbord. Whatever I feel like, I go for. What kind of sexual am I? I am omnisexual!” — 2012, to GQ
Little Richard, born Richard Wayne Penniman 84 years ago, became famous in the 1950s with his energetic renditions of such songs as “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally,” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly.” Many other rockers revered him, although the public sometimes preferred white artists’ covers of his hits — Pat Boone, for instance, did a popular cover of “Tutti Frutti.” At the height of his fame Little Richard had a gender-bending appearance, wearing elaborate costumes and makeup.
He quit the business abruptly in 1957 and entered a Bible college, emerged as a gospel singer, but then went back to rock and roll, according to AllMusic.com. Some biographical accounts say he is an ordained minister, but at one point he called himself “ordained by God.” He came from a Seventh-Day Adventist family but also attended Baptist and Holiness churches, notes a Rolling Stone bio, and once said he was kicked out by his family in his early teens for being gay.
In the new interview, he said Jesus saved him and added, “I don’t want to sing rock and roll no more. … I want to be holy like Jesus.”