Ex-Gay Gospel Singer Defends Himself at Obama Concert

Ex-gay Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin defended himself against attacks on his view that homosexuality is a choice at Sen. Barack Obama's gospel concert Sunday.

More than 2,000 black evangelicals waved their hands and sang in support of the Grammy winner as he took the stage in Columbia, S.C. McClurkin said his past statements on homosexuality had been twisted and he was unfairly criticized, according to The New York Times.

The gospel superstar sang a hymn about standing up for one's self and thrust his fist into the air. McClurkin gave a short pitch for Democratic presidential hopeful Obama as a candidate who stands for change.

"But the greatest change a person can have is not in politics," he said. "There is only one King."

Last Monday, McClurkin had said during an interview with The Associated Press: "I don't believe that it is the intention of God…Sexuality, everything is a matter of choice."

The award winning artist said he was gay for nearly 20 years after being sexually molested by an uncle, but was "cured" through prayers.

Gay activists had strongly criticized McClurkin for his statement and demanded Obama to cancel his appearance.

The Illinois senator did not remove McClurkin, but instead added an openly gay South Carolina pastor to the same concert. The Illinois senator also told the gay community about his strong disagreement with McClurkin and his commitment to gay rights.

As the concert was about to end, McClurkin – who was one of the final acts – became more bold about the controversy and cried out, "Don't call me a bigot or anti-gay when I have suffered the same feelings," as reported by CNN.

"Don't call me a homophobe, when I love everybody … Don't tell me that I stand up and I say vile words against the gay community because I don't. I don't speak against the homosexual. I tell you that God delivered me from homosexuality."

The crowd sang and clapped in full support of McClurkin's word, according to the New York Times.

A September poll conducted by Winthrop University and ETV showed 74 percent of South Carolina Africa-Americans believe homosexuality is "unacceptable."

Obama was not present at the concert but appeared on a videotaped message to the crowd.

The three-city Gospel concert, "Embrace the Change! Gospel Series," was aimed at boosting Obama's religious black voters in South Carolina. The concert tour featured McClurkin, Grammy Award winners Mary Mary and Hezekiah Walker and the Mighty Clouds of Joy among other Gospel greats. The concert in Columbia on Sunday was the only one where McClurkin made an appearance.