Update: Michelle Shocked's ETown show canceled due to controversial anti-gay remarks
Update: Michelle Shocked is sorry. In a statement she sent to Bay Area public radio station KQED earlier today, she insists she isn't homophobic, and says moreover that her words were taken out of context:
"I do not, nor have I ever, said or believed that God hates homosexuals (or anyone else). I said that some of His followers believe that. I believe intolerance comes from fear, and these folks are genuinely scared. When I said 'Twitter that Michelle Shocked says 'God hates faggots,' I was predicting the absurd way my description of, my apology for, the intolerant would no doubt be misinterpreted. The show was all music, and the audience tweets said they enjoyed it. The commentary came about ten minutes later, in the encore."
"And to those fans who are disappointed by what they've heard or think I said, I'm very sorry: I don't always express myself as clearly as I should. But don't believe everything you read on facebook or twitter. My view of homosexualtiy has changed not one iota. I judge not. And my statement equating repeal of Prop 8 with the coming of the End Times was neither literal nor ironic: it was a description of how some folks -- not me -- feel about gay marriage.
The show, and the rant, was spontaneous. As for those applauding my so-called stance that 'God Hates Faggots,' I say they should be met with mercy, not hate. And I hope that what remains of my audience will meet that intolerance with understanding, even of those who might hate them.
Folks wonder about my sexuality, but denying being gay is like saying I never beat my husband. My sexuality is not at issue. What is being questioned is my support for the LGBT community, and that has never wavered. Music and activism have always been part of my work and my journey, which I hope and intend to continue. I'd like to say this was a publicity stunt, but I'm really not that clever, and I'm definitely not that cynical.
But I am damn sorry. If I could repeat the evening, I would make a clearer distinction between a set of beliefs I abhor, and my human sympathy for the folks who hold them. I say this not because I want to look better. I have no wish to hide my faults, and - clearly - I couldn't if I tried."
Here's the audio of her remarks from the show in question at Yoshi's in San Francisco [Vulture]:
Keep reading for original Etown post
Original post, 11:52 a.m., 3/19/13: eTown has canceled Michelle Shocked's show slated for Friday, May 3. The cancellation is due to the controversy spurred by remarks the 51-year-old Texas-based singer (born Karen Johnston) reportedly made at a show in San Francisco regarding Proposition 8, an amendment banning same-sex marriages in California. Shocked, a professed born-again Christian, is quoted by the Bay Area Reporter as saying: "When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization and Jesus will come back."
Although the folks at eTown chose not to address the remarks specifically, like some of the other venues across the country who canceled subsequent Shocked performances -- opting instead to use more ambiguous language like, "Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have decided to cancel this event," and "In light of recent developments, eTown must cancel the upcoming concert with Michelle Shocked" -- the nonprofit led by Nick and Helen Forster did "pull the plug on this event" last night, as they put it, noting that they were saddened by the news.
From eTown, via Facebook:
"PLEASE NOTE - In light of recent developments, eTown must cancel the upcoming concert with Michelle Shocked, originally scheduled to take place in May at eTown Hall. From the very beginning, our goal as an organization has been to foster a spirit of community and inclusiveness in all that we do - whether it's a radio taping, special event, concert or social cause we support. We are deeply saddened by today's news, and are pulling the plug on this event. Anyone who had purchased tickets for the show can receive a full refund by calling the eTown Hall box office at 303.443.8696. We apologize for any inconvenience, and appreciate your understanding."
While it doesn't appear that Shocked has commented on the incident yet herself, our sister paper in Dallas posted an item earlier today in which they inferred from past interviews with the singer that she's not indeed homophobic. At the same time, they wondered aloud why the singer would make such inflammatory statements.
From Dallas Observer:
"Shocked has a long history of proximity with the LGBT community -- she was for years famously assumed to be a lesbian. She never exactly shoved those rumors off with the fervor of a bigot. In fact, she often used the fact that it was a constant source of conversation to approach the issue in typically measured fashion. I don't know what she was thinking in San Francisco or what exactly happened (the Tweet feed is a notoriously ridiculous source of good information, and that's most of where it's coming from at this point). But I would be amazed to learn, even in spite of her Born Again conversion, that she has gone Full Westboro."
In making the case for this assertion, the Observer refers to numerous quotes from a 2008 interview the paper did with Shocked:
Dallas Observer interview:
Early on in your career, you were incorrectly assumed to be a lesbian. You once said that you were an honorary lesbian. Now that you've been married, divorced and found religion, why do you think many who claim to be Christians are so openly hateful toward homosexuals?
Michelle Shocked: In his time, Jesus was hanging out with the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the lepers, all the people that proper society had banished or had determined were underclass. Today, it is easy for me to imagine that Jesus would hang around those who have been scorned, abandoned and neglected. We live in a homophobic society. But homosexuals are a group of folks who Jesus would recognize. Jesus even says that he didn't come here to be righteous. He came here for those who needed salvation.
See the remainder of the interview on the Dallas Observer's music blog.