Disco songstress Donna Summer has died at the age of 63, following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Her catchy disco tracks like “Last Dance” made her an instant hit with the gay community, who danced the night away to her songs in gay clubs in the 1980s.
Her status as a gay icon came into question in 1983, however, when at an American concert, she invited fans backstage to talk about her then recent conversion to ‘born again’ Christianity. While Summer disputed all quotes that were taken from this conversation, it was alleged that she said AIDS was “divine punishment” for homosexuals’ “sinful lifestyle”.
Years later, in 1989, Summer wrote to AIDS campaign group ACT UP and said the altercation was “a 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.”
Also in 1989, she told The Advocate, “A couple of the people I write with are gay, and they have been ever since I met them. What people want to do with their bodies is their personal preference.”
But many in the community did not see her apologies and sincere. Once fan wrote to Jet magazine after her comments, “The gay community made her a star, and what she did wasn’t very Christian”.
Donna Summer is survived by her two daughters and husband Bruce Sudano.