Activism or betrayal? Elton John performs during Rush Limbaugh's wedding

Posted on 08 Jun 2010 at 11:16am
Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John

Gay rights and AIDS activist Sir Elton John raised eyebrows and ire on Saturday when he sang at right-wingnut Rush Limbaugh’s wedding (his fourth) to Kathryn Rogers in Palm Beach, Fla. John reportedly was paid $1 million for the gig.

The British newspaper The Guardian says Elton gave Rush a discounted rate, that the legendary singer usually charges more than $2 million for private wedding performances, and that the proceeds will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

OK. I admit that I was totally caught off guard and experienced a true WTF moment when I first saw headlines about John’s performance at Limbaugh’s wedding.

I mean, why in the world would an out-and-proud gay man like Elton John want to sing for the man who once said that “When a gay man turns his back on you, it isn’t an insult, it’s an invitation”? Why would such a staunch AIDS activist want to perform for a man who has consistently denied that AIDS exists as an epidemic or that is has spread to the heterosexual community?

Obviously, a lot of other people were wondering the same kinds of things. Like Tommi Avicolli-Mecca, who wrote for theĀ  San Francisco-based alternative BeyondChron that John “owes his queer fans one hell of an explanation.” And this blogger on Queerty.com who wrote: “It’s one thing to be friends with someone who has a difference of opinion. It’s an entirely other thing to knowingly enter into a business and personal relationship with someone whose day job amounts to wishing ill against your community.”

(One commenter on the Queerty.com post even called the singer Elton “Uncle Tom” John.)

There are plenty of folks who have opined that John doesn’t need the money, and if he wants to donate to gay rights or AIDS causes, he can do it without having to make nice with a bigot like Limbaugh. And I pretty much felt the same way. At first.

But then I thought about it, and I have changed my mind. I say, Go Elton! The right-wingers are really good about reaching down into their oh-so-deep pockets to finance propaganda against us, why shouldn’t you take the chance to get them to reach into those same pockets to help finance something good for a change.

I mean, yeah, sure, Elton John has plenty of his own money to donate to worthy causes. And yes, he could have performed in any number of venues or at any number of events to raise money for those causes. But I think there is a kind of karmic justice in John taking money from Limbaugh and giving that money to a worthy cause, like his AIDS foundation (as the Guardian says he is wont to do).

I learned a long time ago that actions speak louder than words, and $1 million can finance a lot of action! So I say more power to Sir Elton for taking a chunk of that money that might have otherwise helped pay for more anti-LGBT propaganda and using it for something worthwhile.

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