June 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm EDT | by Phil Reese
Donna Summer’s ACT UP letter published
gay news, Washington Blade, Donna Summer

Donna Summer, the "Queen of Disco," succumbed to cancer at the age of 63. (Photo by Harry Wad via Wikimedia)

NEW YORK — One of the most enduring myths in gay popular culture is that of late disco diva Donna Summer calling AIDS “God’s punishment” on the gay community. While the singer denied saying such a thing, and apologized to the gay community for any hurt feelings, the tale lived on for decades.

According to POZ, a magazine for and about people with HIV/AIDS, a letter the singer sent to AIDS activist group ACT UP in the 1980s, only now being published after the singer’s tragic death last month, paints a fuller picture.

In the letter, the singer denies having made the alleged statements in her Village Voice interview, goes on to note her long-standing relationship with the gay community, and closes with a Bible verse from 1st Corinthians 13,“… Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

Read the entire letter at POZ.com.


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    “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    And now these three remain: faith, hope an love. But the greatest of these is love.”

    I love you,
    Donna Summer
    Thanks for this. Summer’s letter to ACT UP paints a fuller picture, indeed. And her Biblical quote is and remains a lovely passage. Given the personal turmoil in Donna Summer’s life at the time– and likely, a lack of deeper understanding of gay culture and history– one can understand a letter that came off as too preachy to some.

    Romans and Leviticus aside, many among us are, or know neighbors, friends and perhaps family members, who are, as Donna Summer was, deeply religious, and who try to live their lives by such Biblical verse– wholly ignoring the Bible’s uglier verses.

    That is their right, of course. But it also behooves us to put “childish ways” behind us and guard against our own biases against people with such beliefs.

    We all misspeak at times. My better half and I long ago forgave Donna Summer for any misunderstandings.

    For all those last dances (no matter who we danced them with), we still love Donna Summer and the music Donna Summer left the world. I am sure we will always hold her memory with a smile in gratitude for those good times to which she contributed her loving personality and her very considerable talent.

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