03 November 2007

The Miseducation of Donnie McClurkin (Part One)

Donnie McClurkin

I'm not sure which is worse . . . being educated in the wrong subjects, or being miseducated in the right ones! I'm talking about being propagandized. Brainwashed! That's what goes on in churches, mosques and synagogues all over the world. Self-described ministers of truth, spreading falsehood about Gay people and calling it doctrine! Taking Scriptures out of context, distorting the Gospel of Grace, ignoring the clues to our identity that exist there, encouraging ignorance, and whipping up hatred against us, all in the name of the Lord. I'm convinced that this rampant practice constitutes the Desolating Sacrilege of which Jesus Christ spoke!

In my opinion, there's nothing so sacrilegious as a False Prophet who vilifies God's Gay children. And there is nothing so desolate as the life of a Gay child of God who takes part in that sacrilege! An interview has surfaced on the Web which proves my point beyond the shadow of a doubt. This interview, which extensively quotes the alleged former lover of a closeted Christian preacher, details how such men lead lives fraught with guilt, shame, deception and perverted desire. The interviewer, New York journalist Clay Cane, calls it a story of "sadness, sexual deviance and scandal." Believe me, it's about as strong an argument against living in the closet as you'll ever find!

The closeted Christian preacher in question is Donnie McClurkin, who has recently been in the news. Back when he was running for President, Barack Obama recruited him to head a Gospel music tour in support of his candidacy. Seemingly unaware of McClurkin's reputation in the Black community as an advocate of heterosexual conversion (he himself claims to be "ex-Gay"), Obama got himself embroiled in a firestorm of controversy. In a lame attempt at damage control, he added an openly Gay minister to the tour, which included other militantly heterosexist acts like the duo Mary Mary and Reverend Hezekiah Walker. Reportedly, the Gay minister was so intimidated by the heavy anti-Gay atmosphere, he fled from the event as soon as his time on stage was up! What a joke!

Here's some background on Reverend McClurkin: Born 1959 in Amityville, New York, McClurkin grew up in the Christian church and led Gospel groups in his teens. He entered the ministry and served as associate pastor at a Detroit church headed by Marvin Winans, a member of the Gospel-singing (and very homophobic) Winans Family. His own career as a professional Gospel singer began in 1996. He's since cut several million-selling albums, and won three Grammy awards. He also has an NAACP Image Award.  McClurkin now pastors his own congregation in Freeport, New York; he founded his Perfecting Faith Church in early 2001. Although his ministry and singing career are high-profile, he's most famous in evangelical circles for his claims of having been "delivered" from Gay identity. He made these claims in a 2001 autobiography titled Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor, and in articles he's since penned for Charisma Magazine and other Conservative Christian publications.

An admitted victim of incest and child sexual abuse, McClurkin writes that he was unwillingly drawn into homosexuality by male pedophiles: "The seed of homosexual lust and desire was planted" is the ominous way he describes it. He professes to have overcome same-gender attraction through prayer and guidance from his church elders. Here's a sample of the kind of "guidance" he got:

They would pray with me, talk with me, and a few of them . . . would even teach me how to carry myself like a man. When I wanted to sing soprano, they'd say things like, "Get some bass in your voice!" or "Men don't sing soprano!" (They) even taught me how to walk. If I held my hand up in a feminine way, (they'd) hit it and say: "Put your hands at your side. Men don't hold their hands like that!"

These intensive lessons in masculine swagger may have had something to do with McClurkin fathering a child out of wedlock in 2000. The evangelical community forgave that transgression, of course . . . at least he was fornicating with a woman.

Donnie McClurkin has become prominent among a shamefully large number of hetero-fascists who are active in Black Protestantism. Ever since he performed at the 2004 Republican National Convention, he's been forging links with the White religious Right Wing. He has appeared in support of George W. Bush, and parrots the "family values" rhetoric of the Republican party (begging the question of why Barack Obama would have wanted to be associated with him)!

Ask him what he thinks about Gay identity, and he's liable to call it "a matter of choice" as well as a "curse". He's gone on record with such opinions in the past. In addition, McClurkin has characterized Gay Christian men as "vultures" who populate a "deceptive underworld" within the church (holy religious McCarthyism, Batman)! According to The New York Times, he offers "therapy" to young boys who feel homosexual desire. "I've been through this, and have experienced God's power to change my lifestyle," he asserts. "I am delivered, and I know God can deliver others, too." Doesn't reading about this development make chills run up and down your spine? It certainly has that effect on me.

The aforementioned exposé had an equally potent effect on me when I read it. There is, of course, a possibility that the anonymous man's claims are bogus; he could be a jealous rival trying to settle a score with McClurkin by making up lies about him. However, I seriously doubt that's the case: From what I know about closeted men, the story rings uncomfortably true! You can judge for yourself, though. Here are excerpts, taken from the website claycane.net. They've been edited for clarity and objectionable content.

Clay Cane: (This) interview with someone who claims to be Donnie McClurkin’s ex-lover (describes) his relationship with the millionaire pastor . . . he demands to remain anonymous (because) he is tied to the Gospel music industry and explains, “I can be blackballed by him.” For his professional and personal protection, he will only go by the name of “Rob”. In this revealing interview, "Rob" details his relationship, or as he described, "roller coaster ride", with the “We Fall Down” hitmaker from 2001 to 2004, which (was) ironically during the height of McClurkin's anti-Gay rants and calls for (heterosexual) conversion . . . the full interview cannot be made public. Some things I had to leave out, such as other artists in Gospel (music) who are Gay . . . I only wanted to focus on the relationship with McClurkin and no one else. I am presenting (this) story for people to make up their own minds.

"The Miseducation of Donnie McClurkin" continues with Part Two.

02 November 2007

The Miseducation of Donnie McClurkin (Part Two)

Donnie McClurkin

The interview begins:

Clay Cane: Tell me how you first met Donnie McClurkin.

"Rob": I was at a Gospel event backstage. We were introduced . . . I guess it was just, you looked across the room, this person looked at you, and you just knew there was something . . . you look up throughout the evening, and you keep seeing this person staring at you. Email (addresses) were exchanged, and cell phones numbers were exchanged, so that was the beginning. But, it was strictly . . . music, things in common, that type of thing. But for some reason, I felt there was an attraction.

Clay Cane: Did you instantly know that it was Donnie McClurkin?

"Rob": I knew . . . because of his prior success with the song "Stand". Oprah Winfrey used to always talk about it. "Stand" came out (in the late) '90's, so he was already starting to rise . . . so, I already knew who he was.

Clay Cane: This may sound like a dumb question, but what made you know he wasn't Straight? Was he around other Gay people? Was it just blatantly obvious? What made you know that he wasn't heterosexual?

"Rob": Well, in Gospel music, everyone knows who messes around, and who is Straight. I've always known it . . . someone once told me the same thing, many years ago. In church.

Clay Cane: What were your first conversations like?

"Rob": He'd explain how it is on the road, (how) it's lonely. How sometimes he'd just (go to) his room and cry. He said, "And you're single?" It came out of nowhere, (and) I said, "Yeah, I am." He said, "Wow, the person that would have you would be lucky . . ."

Clay Cane: This already doesn’t sound like the "ex-Gay" (preacher) we see in the media. Were you aware that he was an "ex-Gay" at this point?

"Rob": I wasn't aware then.  (His song) "We Fall Down" was (just) starting to catch everyone's ear. There was talk he was going to start a church out on Long Island.

Clay Cane: Was there any talk in your conversations (that) being Gay is wrong, (that) this is an abomination . . .?

"Rob": Early on, no. He would relate it to being lonely, not being able to be who you really . . . are, and that was a little later. I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, I'm in Gospel, I have fans, I'm about to start this church, and the church has a lot of promise" . . . he said, "I have a position to uphold, and I have an image, but the thing is . . . I have some things to work on." I said, "Is it that simple?"

Clay Cane: When was the first time you were intimate?

"Rob": Like I said, we met (in the) winter. The first time was in May.

Clay Cane: What was that like, the first time you guys were intimate?

"Rob": It was uncomfortable because . . . he gets into role-playing . . . he's the "bottom", and he wants you to treat him rough. He wants (you) to talk rough, and that's not my demeanor, that's not in me. I can play a role and I did it, but I didn’t feel comfortable . . . I felt stupid, actually. Like, what did I just do? It was just strange.

To those of you who aren't versed in Gay street lingo, a "bottom" is the passive partner in penetrative sexual intercourse. Gay and Pansexual men who are heavily into role-playing (especially closeted ones) sometimes refer to the passive partner as the "woman"(or they use a derogatory term for women that I won't repeat here). It's revealing that McClurkin would (allegedly) approach sex with another man in this way, as if it were some kind of punishment! That's certainly not the norm in Gay relationships.

Clay Cane: Where did this happen?

"Rob": This was at a hotel. That was the first experience, but each time I always had to play the role. You get tired of it. He'd often say, "I don't want the lovey-dovey stuff!" Those were (his) exact words. "I don’t want the lovey-dovey stuff, the hugging, the cuddling . . . I just want sex."

This is also very revealing. To Gay men who approach their sexuality with shame, same-gender intimacy must be devoid of tenderness! It's gotta be rough and quick, the way wild animals copulate! They don't dare consider the possiblity of falling in love with a male partner, and they strongly resist becoming emotionally attached to one. In their minds, love can only be expressed in the context of heterosexual intimacy. Of course, they've convinced themselves of a lie!

"Rob": That's how it was, and so I sort of knew (that) this (was) not going to be anything (intense) . . . I knew this was going to be an occasional thing when time permitted.

Clay Cane: But it (kept) going, right?

"Rob": It did, it was off and on, but sometimes when he'd . . . go "in remission”, when he didn't want to take (my) calls, or when he didn’t want to get together . . . he'd (have these) moments, (saying) "this is wrong, I can’t do this, blah, blah, blah" (and) it was because (his record) "We Fall Down" was becoming so popular. (His) church had just started in the summer of 2001, and (was) growing. (It) started with 350 (members, and) by the next month, it was another 100 . . . then another 100 . . . it was the church, and the celebrity. He was becoming a celebrity, he was everywhere, he was on TV, and his song had crossed over into the mainstream.

This is surely an example of what my friend, the Reverend Jerry Maneker always tells me . . . that profit is what fuels ultra-conservatism in the organized church! Maintaining the right public image can be very lucrative for a preacher and/or Gospel singer; but you've got to be heard talking the right talk, and you've got to be seen walking the right walk! It makes sense that McClurkin would (allegedly) be more cautious about his secret sex life at this time. As his star was rising, he certainly wouldn't have wanted anybody to suspect him of being less than the straight arrow he claimed to be!

Clay Cane: Did he ever tell you about his relationships with other men?

"Rob": No, he just told me that he used to be . . . active. I know even one time when we were walking somewhere (and) he said, “That used to be my hang-out.” Remember (The) Show Palace on 42nd and 8th Avenue?

Clay Cane: No.

"Rob": It's a porn place. You know, booths, glory holes, whatever.

Clay Cane: He was into glory holes?

"Rob": No, he was into The Show Palace, and all those things are in The Show Palace. I've actually never been in The Show Palace, but I asked him what was in there, and he said, "Just everything you wanted to find."

At one time in my past, I patronized a place like The Show Palace; it was an adult video and bookstore with viewing booths inside. Historically, closeted Gay and Pansexual men have frequented these establishments. They enter the booths on the premise of wanting to watch an adult video, but they're really having oral sex with each other. They do it through holes (AKA glory holes) cut into the booth walls.

It's every bit as disgusting as it sounds! It's also dangerous, degrading and unsanitary; no doubt a lot of venereal disease has been spread that way. I knew better than to do what I was doing, but at the time I didn't care; my internalized shame told me I belonged in those video booths. The men I encountered there no doubt felt the same way. Apparently, Donnie McClurkin may have felt that way, too! Now that home video is the preferred medium of adult video enthusiasts, the Show Palaces of the world are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Not a minute too soon, in my opinion!

In the next excerpt, McClurkin's alleged ex-lover talks about trysting with the singing preacher while he was out on Gospel tours:

"Rob": There was a hotel . . . in Garden City (New Jersey) that I went to. I caught the Long Island Railroad, and waited on the platform for awhile 'til he came . . . he was very nervous, because that was (our) first Long Island meeting. That's his home, his territory, (and the) people all know him. Sometimes if he was singing in Atlanta, I'd be in Atlanta. If he was singing in Detroit, I would be there. I would go, and he would help me get there.

Clay Cane: Did people in his circle know you were seeing each other?

"Rob": No, because I agreed to play by the rules.

Clay Cane: What did he explain the rules to be?

"Rob": Just discretion . . . (but) the church was getting so huge . . . he started to change. I noticed a change in his personality. He would be short-tempered, (he) would get (angry) with me. Something was bothering him, (he was) very troubled and (he'd say) “Why is this happening to me? . . . I've always wanted to be a pastor. I’ve always wanted my music out there, but still I'm not happy. I want to have somebody to love, I want to be in love with somebody, but I know what's . . . inside of me."

What a sad state of affairs! The tragedy of shame-based faith goes well beyond Donnie McClurkin's situation. How many preachers out there share this inner turmoil? This awful, tortured feeling that they can't serve God and be true to their nature at the same time? How many clergymen have been scarred by the organized Church's insistence on demonizing Gay identity? How many have taken part in such demonization, to the detriment of their own self-esteem? Lord, deliver me . . . they must number in the millions!

"The Miseducation of Donnie McClurkin" continues with Part Three.

01 November 2007

The Miseducation of Donnie McClurkin (Part Three)

Donnie McClurkin

The interview continues:

Clay Cane: How long were you guys being sexual?

"Rob": Off and on for three years, 2001 to 2004. During this time (was) really the height of his anti-Gay rants. (His) book came out, he made comments, (and) he told The New York Times (that) he’s counseling adolescent boys to convert them from homosexuality.

Clay Cane: Would you hear about these rants?

"Rob": Every time I’d read an article in Ebony or Jet (magazines), or whatever, I’d . . . get upset, and we’d always have an argument about it . . . I said, “It’s crazy! What you’re doing is crazy. You’re writing this stuff, but yet you’re still doing it!” I said, “I have a problem with that. What’s wrong with you?” He said, “I have a problem.”

Clay Cane: What do you think he meant by “I have a problem”?

"Rob": It’s something he just can’t control. He feels that he has to say that to please people. He said, “I don’t want people to believe that I’m still doing it.” Some of the stuff he said (was): “I’m not in the mood to play with those who are trying to kill our children.” This is what he said in 2002 on the Christian Broadcasting Network! Some of the other Gospel artists . . .

Clay Cane: If they’re not homophobic I don’t want to know their (names).

"Rob": They’re not. They are Gay, (and) they would be p*ssed, livid . . . (they'd say) "Did you hear what 'Crazy' said?" It would be widespread. "Did you hear what he said? He’s mentally ill . . . " That was the thing they’d always say: "I love him, he’s a talented man, but he’s crazy, and he’s confused."

I was livid when I read this part of the interview! Anybody who grew up in the Black church knows that there's a sizable presence of Lesbians and Gay men on the Gospel circuit. It's whispered about all the time! The most famous closeted Gospel singer was the late Reverend James Cleveland, whose illness and subsequent death from AIDS in 1991 finally revealed the secret he'd kept for years. So I knew about closeted Gospel singers, but I never thought any of them had pride in themselves as Gay people! I certainly never suspected any of them were upset by the anti-Gay rhetoric that permeates their industry.

What good does it do for these stars to rail privately against hypocrites like Donnie McClurkin and stay hidden in their closets? And how do we advance the struggle for Gay Rights by keeping their secrets? Clay Cane thinks the identities of Gay Gospel artists should be protected because they're "not homophobic." I beg to differ! The definition of "homophobia" is "fear of homosexuality", and that describes their attitude to a tee!

Actually, they're worse than homophobic; they're accomodationists. Nothing but damn Uncle Toms and Aunt Jemimahs, grinning in the face of the slavemaster and disparaging him behind his back, for all the good it does! Their moral cowardice enables heterosexist bigotry, and frankly, so does Clay Cane's willingness to join their conspiracy of silence.

Clay Cane: Was he actively trying to stop having sex with men?

"Rob": Yeah, I believe so, because of the tears . . . (I heard) him cry. I believe he was really fighting something . . . he did say one time (that) it’s something that can lie dormant, (and) you don’t have to act upon (being Gay). Even though it’s in you, you don’t have to act upon it. He said, “I’m just hoping that God will just continue to keep me strong.”

Is that what he calls living a lie . . . being strong? The poor man seems to be so mixed-up psychologically, he doesn't even know how to ask God for deliverance from his pain! A word of caution about the following quote: It's of a more explicit nature than I usually allow on this blog. I'm presenting it here because of what it can teach us about the mentality of closeted clergy:

Clay Cane: You’ve kind of touched on this, but in my experiences, people who are sexually repressed (are) very over-the-top sexually, "freaky" . . . would that be fair to say about him?

"Rob": (Sex) was very involved, rough, sweaty and vocal . . . I guess it’s just the talk, “Whose p*ssy is this? Tell me . . ." (He was) yelling it . . . it was . . . almost like he was being raped.

Clay Cane: Was he completely sober and clear-minded during sex?

"Rob": Yes, but he was addicted to sex.

How ironic, if true: The very thing McClurkin speaks out against so vociferously has (allegedly) become a secret addiction for him. The old "forbidden fruit" syndrome! It's classic closet-case behavior.

Clay Cane: There are so many Gay people in the Gospel music industry. Why did he have to be so . . . so like he was?

"Rob": It seems like every time he was attacked in the media, or word was getting around (about him), it just seemed like it made him even madder . . . one lady wrote an article (called) “The Sins of Donnie McClurkin”, (and) I mean, it was scathing . . . every time somebody would do that, he would counter-attack. The articles (and) the hearsay would make him just go crazy, and he was not fun to be around. One time we met, and it was him sitting in a bed Indian-style, and me sitting in the hotel chair looking at TV. No sex, no nothing . . .

Clay Cane: You did care about him to a certain extent?

"Rob": Yeah, and I know he cared about me. (I'd) get calls, you know: “I need someone to talk to. I'm lonely, I’m so lonely.” I felt sorry (for him) . . . it was sincere.

Clay Cane: What made the relationship stop?

"Rob": It was the hot-and-cold (treatment). One day (he'd) send (me) an email or a text message saying "meet me here" or "can I come there". Then (I'd) see (him) at an event, and (he'd) totally ignore (me), walk past (me). . . (he'd) be totally cold . . . on the phone, or (he wouldn't) take (my) messages. Not that I was some scorned person or anything, but it was just so extreme! It all related to (weaning) himself off of men. (His) church had now gotten up to maybe . . . 1,000 (members).

Clay Cane: (How) did it finally stop?

"Rob": We had planned a meeting and he said, “I’m going to stop putting you through this, and I’m going to stop putting myself through this.” (It was) December 2004 . . . he said, “I have to do the right thing, it’s becoming a problem; I have to be all I need to be to my church, my people. I have to be real (about) what I’m saying, to what you’re reading (in Scripture).” He said, “It’s like (I'm) an ex-drug user . . . (I'm) in recovery, in a sense.” He always did look at it like he was in some (kind) of recovery. “As long as I’m not acting upon it, I’m okay. Yes, deep down, I probably am Gay, but as long as I’m not acting on it . . . ”

Do tell! You stop being Gay when you stop having sex with men? Dude's got the "ex-Gay" rhetoric down pat!

Clay Cane: Tell me about the last time you saw him.

"Rob": It was March 2007; I was at a restaurant in Manhattan. I was at a table with a good friend who started a production company. This very effeminate guy came in, cute . . . he was sitting there waiting for his guest. I’m talking to my friend, and he says,  "Somebody is approaching you" . . . someone puts his arm around me, and I stand up . . . it’s him. We hugged, and then he introduced me to the person.

Clay Cane: This is the person who was very effeminate?

"Rob": Very!

Clay Cane: In your mind, obviously Gay?

"Rob": Yeah, obviously, to anyone . . . we went back to eat, but he was uncomfortable. He moved all the way (over) in the corner. The person I was with said, “You two were involved?” He didn’t know anything . . . I never confirmed it.

Clay Cane: Did he tell you why he was there with the guy?

"Rob": Later, we did talk, and he said, “OK, that was someone I’m counseling.”

"Counseling" . . . yeah!  I'm so sure! Horizontal counseling, no doubt! This alleged episode would be amusing if it weren't so pitiful.

Clay Cane: Now, he’s obviously going to know this is you (being interviewed). You don’t think so?

"Rob": You know, the reason why I don’t think so is because . . . I know there are others! I think he’s going to be confused. He’s going to say, "Either it was this one, that one, or that one." You know? There were others.

I don't doubt it! But I wonder if all of McClurkin's sexual encounters were/are safe? If he did have sex with "Rob", did he use protection? Does he ever use protection? Clay Cane doesn't appear to have asked about that. If I had to bet, I'd say no! It sounds like Donnie McClurkin may be acting out suicidal impulses in bed. The behavior described here is nothing if not self-destructive. The man seems to be hurtling toward a very public downfall!

"The Miseducation of Donnie McClurkin" concludes with Part Four.