Michelle Shocked: 'I'm damn sorry' as audio of the concert emerges
Michelle Shocked has finally responded to accusations that her comments at a California concert were homophobic. Shocked released a statement last night, claiming those comments have been gravely misinterpreted. Purported audio of the concert has also come to light.
On Sunday (March 17), Shocked reportedly told her audience at Yoshi’sin San Francisco “When they stop Prop 8 [the California initiative that banned gay marriage] and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization and Jesus will come back.” In the commotion caused by those comments she was reported to have said, “"You are going to leave here and tell people 'Michelle Shocked said God hates faggots.'"
In a written statement to radio station KQED, the born-again Christian Shocked doesn’t deny saying either of those things. What she does suggest is that the first statement was made in the context of other devout Christians incorrectly believing that “When they stop Prop 8…it will be the downfall of civilization.” Shocked further says that her request for listeners to report “Michelle Shocked said God hates faggots” was anticipating that her apologizing for her faith would be misinterpreted.
Shocked’s statement to KQED reads:
“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 San Francisco Guardian released an anonymous recording claimed to be of the incident.
In it, Shocked struggles through a statement about her simultaneous support of gay rights and Christianity – leaving it somewhat possible to misinterpret. Things begin to veer off track after a song request mentions a love of the Gospel.
"Any other lovers of invisible men in here? This is sincerely the two things I’m passionate about, y’all. I love me some Jesus and I love liberation. And I did not know how I was going to go to San Francisco and authentically represent both…
“I was in a prayer meeting yesterday. You got to appreciate how scared, how scared folks on that side of the equation are. I mean, from their vantage point, and I really shouldn’t say 'their' because it’s mine too, we are nearly at the end of time. And from our vantage point we are gonna be — I think maybe Chinese water torture is going to be the means, the method, once Prop. 8 gets instated, and once preachers are held at gun point and forced to marry the homosexuals, I’m pretty sure that that will be the signal for Jesus to come on back.
“You said you wanted reality.
“If someone would be so gracious to tweet out ‘Michelle Shocked just said from stage ‘God hates faggots.’’ Would you do it now?”
At that point members of the audience appear to get the wrong impression, believing her to be insulting gays. She responds to their comments, thinking they are arguing against gay rights.
Yoshi’s has taken the audience’s side. They tweeted this yesterday (March 20) evening:
“WE AT YOSHI'S SF DO NOT & WILL NOT EVER TOLERATE THE TYPE OF BIGOTRY & HATRED EXHIBITED LAST NIGHT BY @MShocked SHE WILL NEVER BE BACK."
The Yoshi’s tweet is representative of how badly this story has spun out of Shocked’s control between the initial reports of her comments and her statement yesterday. A spate of US shows were cancelled. Media outlets (including uncut.co.uk) were forced to react based on witness statements while Shocked declined to comment.
Shocked concluded her statement with an apology for any misunderstanding:
“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.”