When Elton John saw the online trailer for the upcoming movie The Dilemma, he was as offended by posted comments as by actor Vince Vaughn's controversial crack that "electric cars are gay."
The hateful anonymous slurs "shocked me," the singer said during an interview to promote The Union, his upcoming duets album with Leon Russell. "People were saying gays should be beaten up, we're not part of God's universe. What kind of mentality is this? When I first came here, it was such a loving country. It's never been in a more horrible place. This is not the America I love."
He's dismayed by the recent rash of gay bullying and suicides, especially the three men brutalized by Bronx gang members and the college student who jumped off a bridge in New York after his gay sexual encounter was secretly filmed and posted online.
"We've come so far, with a black president, it's mystifying that this can still be going on," John says. "Jesus Christ taught tolerance. That's the example we should follow. We should forgive, understand, be compassionate. We're not all the same. Thank God! It would be so boring."
If opposing parties stopped hurling epithets from rooftops and learned to exchange ideas, the rancor might subside, John says.
That's why John, who is in a civil partnership with David Furnish, agreed to sing at the June wedding of Rush Limbaugh, who opposes gay marriage.
"We talked a lot before I did it, and I was surprised how much I liked (him)," John says. "If I had done it just for the money, I could have seen 40 years of my reputation go down the tube. As a gay man, I felt it my duty to find out what this guy thought. I did that before I played there. I felt there was a real reason for me going."
At the reception in Palm Beach, Fla., John took the stage before 400 mostly Republican guests.
"I said, 'I suppose you're wondering what the (expletive) I'm doing here,' and they collapsed in laughter. It took the heat off. I said, 'I'm probably the most famous gay man in the world. I'm coming in peace. Please, let's not say people are horrible because they're different. That's not acceptable in this day and age.' It was a good audience."
John and Limbaugh still communicate by e-mail.
"There's much more of a person in there than the public knows," John says. "I believe dialogue is a way forward. Come on, what era are we living in?"
- USA Today