American rapper, singer and record producer, Kanye West will make a stop in Phoenix this weekend to headline Awaken 2020; a 10hour evangelical event that has bring in criticism from LGBTQ community members and their allies.
According to reports by the New York Daily News, the Christian gathering features a lineup of controversial religious leaders who have expressed anti-gay views. These figures include Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed prophet who encouraged Christians to “rise up” and stop the Equality Act; Guillermo Maldonado, a Miami-based preacher who believes homosexuality is a result of “a generational curse, or even a demonic attack while in the womb”; Ché Ahn, the president of Harvest International Ministry who once compared gay rights to racist laws: “just because it’s legal does not mean that it’s right, at one time we had a law saying blacks were not citizens, that didn’t make that right”; and Lou Engle, a senior leader of the International House of Prayer who was a vocal proponent of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, and who once claimed Nazism was fueled by homosexuality.
“I can give him the benefit of the doubt, but I think it is disappointing (West) is going to associate himself with people like Lou Engle,” John Gimenez, a gay student at Arizona State University, told The Arizona Republic.
“As someone who grew up listening to Kanye, only to see him embrace people who, if they had their way, would see people like me marginalized, is a very bitter feeling.”
He further stated that: “Have your opinions on same-sex marriage and whether you think gay people are real or not, but advocating in Uganda that people who engage in same-sex relations should be locked up for life is contrary to the message of God, in my opinion.”
On the other hand, the media also had something to say on the issue, as members of the twitter community also reacted and expressed their views.
“Wtf is your husband #Kanye doing attending events headlined by anti-LGBT pastors?! He is basically saying “I agree with what you think.” Being a person of faith is one thing… but are y’all anti-gay now?!?!” – @JerryMandre
“People will still stan Kanye despite him legitimizing and supporting radical anti-LGBTQ evangelicals/bigot.” – @AXELSCYTHE
“Kanye is headed to #Awaken2020 to spread hate in God’s name. There is no place for anti-LGBTQ hate in OUR industry. You do this, Kanye, you leave the entertainment industry because ain’t nobody got time for you anymore, dirtbag. #kanye” – @somedayboy
Moreso, it shows that not everyone was against Kanye’s involvement. Engle told the Western Journal that the rapper, who recently recommitted his life to Christianity, was a testament to the power of God.
“We believe Kanye is a sign to this nation that in a moment, thousands and thousands can be swept into the kingdom when [God] converts key people and their voices will be like thunder,” Engle said.
According to a statement on Awaken 2020’s official website, Kanye will be speaking at the event and his Sunday Service choir will also perform. The event is schedule for this Sunday at the Sun Devil Stadium in Phoenix.