August 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. paid McClurkin $5,000 for cancelled appearance
Freedom Plaza, marriage equality, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade, Vince Gray

Mayor Vincent Gray asked Donnie McClurkin to withdraw from appearing at an MLK-related concert. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities paid anti-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin $5,000 for his cancelled appearance at a city-sponsored concert held on Aug. 10 at the Martin Luther King Memorial, according to the commission’s executive director Lionell Thomas.

Thomas told the Blade this week that the Commission also had to pay for McClurkin’s airline ticket and for one of the two nights that he was booked to stay at a D.C. hotel due to the abrupt cancellation of McClurkin’s appearance. He said the city made these payments directly to an airline company and a hotel, not to McClurkin.

Mayor Vincent Gray directed the Commission to ask McClurkin to withdraw from appearing at the concert, saying McClurkin’s past public statements condemning homosexuality and his role as an “ex-gay” leader would be inappropriate for an event commemorating Martin Luther King’s call for equality for all people.

Thomas said the Commission was obligated to pay McClurkin his full $5,000 performance fee under a contract that a producer retained by the Commission had entered into with McClurkin. Thomas said both the Commission staff and the 17-member commission appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the D.C. Council did not play a direct role in selecting McClurkin for the concert, which was entitled, “Reflections on Peace: From Gandhi to King.”

“This was part of a much larger performance contract that we have with a producer to present approximately seven shows over a period of time, and this is one of the shows that we were presenting,” Thomas said.

“He was invited to be a part of the program by the producer,” Thomas said of McClurkin. “It typically doesn’t go through the Commission for that level of detail.”

But Thomas acknowledged the Commission was ultimately responsible for the selection. He said the Commission staff was not aware of McClurkin’s controversial statements about gays and homosexuality at the time the producer booked his appearance.

The mayor’s office said Gray had not been informed in advance of McClurkin’s booking to appear at the concert.

“No disrespect to Mr. McClurkin, but Mayor Gray thought it best that he withdraw from the concert in the name of not having his appearance be a distraction at an event about peace, love and justice for all,” mayoral spokesperson Doxie McCoy told the Blade.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • My taxes funding conservative Christian bs behind art. Funny how those are the types that try to and get almost anything public funded in the arts to be cancelled that they disagree with. These pigs always whine about being persecuted, but all I see is special rights and priveledges only they get.

  • What an unbelievable waste of taxpayer money! Way to go Gray, can’t wait top see you out of that office.

  • I think he should have been paid. He was asked to not come on a late notice,so he had already made plans,bought flight tickets,hotel room,and lose of income. I think it was the right move for the city.

  • As a member of the GLBT community, I agree that the Producer’s selection of McKlurkin for this performance was unfortunate. I also agree with the decision to remove him from the performance lineup for the evening (which I attended, and was very well-done/produced). However, anyone who works in the arts industry understands that McKlurkin was indeed entitled to every last penny of the $5,000 payment as stipulated in his contract. Political issues aside, he was ready to perform as an Artist and the last-minute cancellation of his performance was entirely the choice of the Producing parties. It’s Producing 101. In this regard, there is no controversy to discuss.

  • That's good it was cancelled. Hopefully next time they will book airline flights thru a good service like passport executive travel located in georgetown. thus, they would get their airline ticket money back. too bad the city doesn't bond each event so these kinds of screw-ups could be covered.

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