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Gay Iconography: Should We Praise Donna Summer?

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The phrase "gay icon" gets tossed around a lot, but what does that really mean? Welcome to Gay Iconography, a new feature where we present a proposed iconic figure or character and then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts. Last week we passionately debated if Judy Garland still mattered to gay men today. The comments illustrated that even the most widely-accepted gay icons are still not universal. This week's installment is even less cut-and-dried.

There are few dancefloors that have not been graced by the work of Donna Summer. The Queen of Disco earned five Grammy Awards for her hits-heavy catalog, including "Last Dance," "She Works Hard For the Money" and "On the Radio." Even though many associate her music with the soundtrack of the 1970s' gay club scene, her personal reputation with the gay community is not without its troubles.

After becoming a born-again Christian, Summer allegedly told a concert crowd in the '80s that the AIDs crisis was sent from God to punish homosexuals. She would go on to deny ever making such a statement, but many of her records were returned to the label and her music was boycotted in many gay clubs.

Put on your polyester and get ready to re-examine this disco diva, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1425

LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY: A new Donna Summer remix album is on the way featuring new mixes like this one from Giorgio Moroder.

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For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

Jake Shears Is Not Buying Azealia Banks' 'Context' Argument


Gay singer Jake Shears has waded into the Azealia Banks versus Perez Hilton feud, and he's definitely not standing by Banks, who blew up her gay fan base by called Hilton a "messy faggot" on Twitter.


Banks claimed that her bisexuality, the context of her remark and a complicated hierarchy of gendered denigrations of both gay men and women, made her use of the f-word a-okay, but Shears, frontman for Scissor Sisters, disagrees, writing, "It all about context. And right now, I'm sorry, but context is not on your side." He also reminded Banks that singer Donna Summer was "ostracized" for years for her past comments about gay fans, something that may very well happen to Banks.


GLAAD also came out against Banks. "[That] is an ugly, archaic word that was used to stigmatize a population of people who suffer high rates of violence both here in the U.S. and abroad," said Matt Kane, the group's Associate Director of Entertainment Media. "As far as we’ve come in this society, seeing it used by an artist many young people may look up to is painful, but even more so for those young fans, many of whom GLAAD has heard from."

GLAAD also offered, via Twitter, Banks an opportunity to open a dialogue that they hope will help her change her ways, or at least change her word choice.


Adam Lambert Sings Madonna's 'Ray of Light' and a Donna Summer Tribute on 'VH1 Divas': VIDEO


Adam Lambert hit the stage at the Shrine Auditorium yesterday for a performance of Madonna's "Ray of Light" and a tribute to Donna Summer for the VH1 Divas event.

For the Donna Summer tribute he was joined by KEri Hilson and Kelly Rowland for a medley of “Love to Love You Baby”, “Hot Stuff”, and “Last Dance”.


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Donna Summer's Never-Before-Published 1989 Letter to 'ACT UP' Asking for Forgiveness


POZ's Peter Staley looks back at Donna Summer's attempt to mend her divide with the gay community six years after the Village Voice published anti-gay remarks she had reportedly made, calling AIDS "a punishment from God".

Staley writes: Summer2

"As some in the community continued to embrace her, others grew angrier at her hedged denials (words like "misunderstanding" were used), and the issue continued to percolate...By 1989, various ACT UP chapters started protesting at Donna Summer appearances...To everyone's surprise, Donna Summer wrote a letter to ACT UP New York attempting to mend the divide. A few quotes from the letter were reported at the time, and appeared often in recent online obituaries, but the letter itself has never been seen publicly...I don't think ACT UP kept up their demonstrations after she sent it, but that probably had more to do with our priorities at the time, rather than this strange letter. Note to PR agents: when you apologize to the gays, it's probably not best to quote at length from the bible (even though it's a lovely quote)."

Read the second part of the letter and a text transcript HERE.

And in related news, this is a still of Staley (along with the trailer) from How to Survive a Plague, being handled with gloves by police officers afraid of being infected with the HIV virus at an ACT UP demonstration.

Disco Queen Donna Summer Dead At 63

RIPDonnaSummerDonna Summer, the singer whose classics 'I Feel Love' and 'Last Dance' were the soundtrack for millions of disco-goers, has died.

TMZ reported this morning that 63-year old Summer passed after a battle with cancer.

Despite being loved by many gays for her hits, Summer had a complicated history with the LGBT community. In 1980, she reportedly told a crowd of gay people in her audience.

"I've seen the evil homosexuality come out of you people... AIDS is your sin," The Advocate quoted her as saying. "Now don't get me wrong; God loves you. But not the way you are now," she allegedly said. Years later, in 1989, she denied making the remarks. It was "a terrible misunderstanding," she wrote in a letter to ACT UP.

"If I have caused you pain, forgive mea terrible misunderstanding. I was unknowingly protected by those around me from the bad press and hate letters... If I have caused you pain, forgive me."

AFTER THE JUMP, one of Summer's greatest hits, "She Works Hard For The Money."

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