Gilbert's Letter August 1999

As usually happens, now that Donna is in the limelight again that old anti-gay rumor is popping up again. Ordinarily I would not address the issue here as I feel that by now it is (or at least should be) a dead issue. Not so long ago, my online friend Gilbert felt compelled to respond to the accusations made against with a well crafted letter listing many facts that Donna's accusers often ignore. Since that time a few more facts have come to light, and since Gilbert is no longer with us to update his letter, I am taking the liberty of updating it myself. Gilbert's words remain in italics, my additions will be in plain text. (By the way, thanks to John for the additional quotes.)

I am not involved with Ms. Summer personally or with her management. I have, however, followed this subject extensively over the last few years by reading anything posted on the Internet about it, by talking to people who have been involved with her charitable work , including charities associated with AIDS, and by corresponding with people who have been associated with Ms. Summer. The reason you may not receive any support or comment on this matter from Ms. Summer or her management is because they have repeatedly in the past responded and tried to put this issue to rest. Accusations such as these must hurt her deeply when one considers the numerous members of the entertainment and arts community, many of whom were her friends, that she has lost to AIDS. Anyone who recently witnessed a portion of her 1991 press conference which aired on VH1's Behind the Music Special, would know she did not make the alleged anti-gay statements. Otherwise, she would have an Oscar for something other than her song "Last Dance". The tears she shed at that conference were not a performance. In fact, if it will help your research, I can obtain a copy of that press conference for you to view. Anyone who believes these allegations state she should respond and settle the issue once and for all. She has responded, but to no avail. It is not possible or practical for her to visit every nation, state, district, commonwealth, county, city or home in the world to speak directly on this issue to everyone. I apologize for the sarcasm, but to many of those who believe the allegations, this seems to be what they expect. If you have not heard any of her responses, then let me share a few with you:

  1. In 1985, Donna issues the following statement which was later printed in The Advocate: "It's very difficult for me to believe that this terrible misunderstanding continues. Since the very beginning of my career I have had tremendous support and friendship from... the gay community. It is a source of great concern to me that anything I may have said has cast me as homophobic... All I can ask for is understanding, as I believe my true feelings have been misrepresented..."
  2. In 1987 she placed a full page advertisement in a program for a major Fire Island Aids benefit in which she said "anything attributed to me in the past that may have hurt the Gay Community, I hereby repudiate, as these are not my feelings and never have been".
  3. On July 26 1989, Ms. Summer wrote a letter to Act-Up, the Aids activist group. The letter says in part: "I did not say God is punishing gays with AIDS, I did not sit with ill intentions in judgment 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.

    "We have too many good memories together to live in this state of unforgiveness," Summer continued. "I never denied you or turned you away, but in fact you turned away from me. If I have caused you pain, forgive me. It was never my intention to reject you but to extend myself in love. I know that some of you really need me now because you've written and told me so. Can't we just forgive each other for this past confusion?"
  4. In 1991, Ms. Summer sued the "New York" magazine for printing the alleged rumor as a fact. Ms. Summer stated it took eight years to finally take legal action because up to that point the alleged comment had never appeared as fact in a major publication. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. I have personally corresponded with someone who worked in her attorney's office at the time of the lawsuit who has stated unequivocally that Ms. Summer is not anti-gay.
  5. In 1991, she held the press conference, a portion of which was shown on VH1's Behind the Music (as I stated earlier) in which she again denied the accusations. What more must the woman do to quiet her critics?
  6. In an interview with The Advocate Donna stated: "I did not make that statement... I never said, ‘If you are gay, God hates you.'"
  7. In an interview with Hot Wax Music Report writer Jeffrey Wilson, she again denied saying "anything about God giving gay people AIDS. You can't imagine the pain that has caused me, especially because of where I started."
  8. In 1999, in an interview in the July 27 issue of The Southern Voice, Donna was asked about her alleged comments about AIDS being God's punishment for homosexuality. She replied: "You can only deny things for so long before it becomes redundant, that's why I sometimes feel like I shouldn't even try any more. But, I'm not going to say I did something I didn't do, and I'm not going to yield myself to something that isn't right. It didn't happen. And, if someone still doesn't believe me, there's not much more I can do beyond that." She went on to say "I can only say, 'I'm sorry if I said something that hurt you, that was not my intention. Even if it's a complete falsehood or misunderstanding, I'm sorry that you were hurt by it.'"

Additionally, Ms. Summer has performed numerous charitable benefits which include raising money for Aids and other diseases. Among these are:

  1. Youth With a Mission which helps children with Aids;
  2. Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang which helps those terminally ill;
  3. Music Cares which is an organization with contributes to Aids research;
  4. AMPHAR-Aids for whom she did an art exhibition in a gay nightclub called TimeSquare;
  5. The Neil Bogart Memorial Fund for Cancer and Aids for whom she has a special memorial set aside for her mother;
  6. The Gay Men's Health Crisis for whom she did a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall and raised over $400,000.00;
  7. T. J. Martell Foundation for who she contributed a song for a compilation Christmas Album;
  8. Dance=Life for whom she contributed a song for a compilation album;
  9. Another appearance at Carnegie Hall with Barry Manilow in his benefit for the Gay Men's Health Crisis;
  10. VH1's Save the Music Foundation

Ms. Summer deserves more than crucifixion for something she no longer wishes to deny. Instead she deserves accolades for the great things she has done in her lifetime, for those both gay and straight, those known and unknown, and for the happiness she spreads with her life, talent and music.

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Now as far as I'm concerned, this issue is CLOSED and I will devote no more webspace to it. It's been 16 years (or more) - it's time to move on already.

1999 Gilbert Prevatte and The Donna Summer Tribute Site


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