US folk singer Michelle Shocked, has responded to a backlash on social media sites, following what was described by fans as a “hate speech” during a performance when she expressed opposition to equal marriage, and LGBT rights.
51-year-old Shocked went into a “full hate speech” said one attendee, Matt Penfield, leaving audience members in disgust.
She summed up by saying: “You can go on Twitter and say ‘Michelle Shocked says God hates fags,’” which led to most of the audience members leaving the venue.
Shocked said in a statement that she believed her comments were misinterpreted. She said: “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.”
On the part of the gig when she told fans to tweet that she “hated fags”, Shocked said she 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.”
She went on to apologise to fans who were offended by the rant, claiming that she did not express herself as well as she should have, and that she was expressing someone else’s views, on Proposition 8, California’s ban on equal marriage.
“I’m very sorry: I don’t always express myself as clearly as I should,” she said. “But don’t believe everything you read on Facebook or Twitter. My view of homosexuality 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,” she went on. “And I hope that what remains of my audience will meet that intolerance with understanding, even of those who might hate them.”
She went on to address speculation that the rant was pre-planned, saying that it was not, and that it was not a PR stunt.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
All concerts of her tour were cancelled by venues – following the singer’s anti-gay tirade – except for two in June which were listed as ‘tenative.’