The Wedding Singer

Elton John can play wherever he wants, but he should expect a well-deserved furor

by Sean Bugg
Published on June 17, 2010, 11:44am | Comments

Elton John's performance during the celebration of Rush Limbaugh's fourth attempt at successful matrimony has become like the inappropriate and unwanted wedding gift that keeps on giving. It seems that it wasn't enough that the famed openly gay pop star played court jester at the wedding of a man who has led the charge against almost every conceivable LGBT-rights issue before the nation. It wasn't enough that John left his big gay imprimatur on the ceremony of a conservative commentator so enamored of ''traditional marriage'' that he's now had four.

Now it turns out that the wedding not only celebrated Rush Limbaugh but was presided over by a rabidly anti-gay preacher, Ken Hutcherson, the man who attempted to pressure Microsoft to end partner benefits and who said of gay people, ''I'm lovingly aggressive [with them] the same I'd be for a murderer or an adulterer. I give 'em the love of God. If they reject it, I give them the discipline of God.''

If we are to be judged by the company we keep, well, Elton John should be prepared for some harsh judging.

Limbaugh himself has mocked gay critics of John's wedding performance, claiming that it's revealing to hear such criticism from ''the people who want unity and who want togetherness.''

I realize that this is perhaps a point so obvious I shouldn't have to make it, but we are talking about Rush Limbaugh here, so: I am far less interested in warm, fuzzy ''togetherness'' than I am in making sure that LGBT Americans eventually enjoy all the rights and responsibilities of our fellow straight citizens.

According to Limbaugh, John told the wedding guests that he was there because, ''I want to build bridges. I don't want to erect walls.'' Fine words put to bad service in celebration of a man who has done nothing but erect walls to block equality for LGBT people.

I should be clear: I believe Elton John can play wherever and whenever he wants, for whatever ridiculous sum he can command. And I believe we should all be free to yell our criticism of him from rooftops and ramparts.

Some have continued to suggest the flamboyant entertainer has earned a pass for such behavior through his generous and ongoing contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Good works are good works and should be lauded appropriately. But to use them as a shield implies that there is some pre-set amount that one can contribute or pay in order to earn a pass for bad behavior.

If that's the case, I'd appreciate if someone could tot up the approximate dollar value for such a pass -- I expect to grow ever more cranky in my old age and when (not if) I piss everyone off with something I've said or done, I'd like to have my own Good Samaritan shield ready and waiting.

We all make choices in our day-to-day lives, sometimes ones that we regret, sometimes ones that we deem too small to matter. Ethical behavior in minor situations -- I'm out of gas! Is Exxon okay, just this once? -- are moments in which we privately judge ourselves according to our personal standards.

Some decisions and actions, however, play out on a public stage. Those who live on that stage -- from singers to artists to writers to politicians -- should expect being held to a higher standard. And we as LGBT people shouldn't hesitate to demand it.


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