WHO: Donna Summer
WHAT: Alleged anti-gay remarks
THE LEGEND: Ah, the classic urban legend. In the 1980s, rumors swirled that the Queen of Disco made some nasty remarks about the gays—namely, that AIDS was God’s way of punishing the community. The gossip current was so strong that in 1991, New York magazine matter-of-factly cited these alleged quotes as the truth in an article leading to death threats and hate mail sent directly to Summer.
THE TRUTH: According to an 1999 Gay Times article, the rumor came to be after a concert in 1983, when the “Love To Love You Baby” singer allowed the audience to stick around after the show for a Q&A session. After happily agreeing to pray for, and eventually hugging an audience member with AIDS, a defensive fan began debating with Summer regarding the hypocrisy of her support for the gay community meshing with her newfound Christianity, enraging both the audience and the singer until she burst out with something along the lines of, “It was because of the reckless lifestyle AIDS was in the gay community to begin with.”
THE REACTION: Summer, who fervently denies ever having said anything of that nature, decided to sue New York to the tune of $50 million after editors refused to retract the story. The case was settled outside of court and the controversy was never heard from again—well, except for a small mention in almost every article written about her ever since.