On Sunday night, Michelle Shocked, the folk singer who improbably has both a strong gay following and identifies as a born-again Christian, made a string of homophobic statements from the stage of a San Francisco concert hall where she was launching a new tour. “When they stop Prop. 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry guys, it will be the downfall of civilization and Jesus will come back,” audience members reported her saying.
She recited anti-gay scripture verses in English and Spanish and discussed a prayer meeting she’d attended the night before where fellow Christians had worried that overturning Prop. 8 could bring about the End Times. As the crowd reacted with boos and protest kisses, she continued, “You can go on Twitter and say ‘Michelle Shocked says God hates faggots.’”
The operator of the venue, Yoshi’s, abruptly ended the show and most of the audience walked out. In the following days, all but one club she had booked for her tour canceled her appearances.
It wasn’t the first time Shocked had seemed to deliberately alienate her fans. As Kristin Rawls wrote in RD in 2011 (thank you to the New York Times for the reminder), the singer declared herself “the world’s greatest homophobe” at North Carolina’s Wild Goose Festival, an LGBT-friendly Christian cultural event.
Folk singer Michelle Shocked, who has in recent years publicly rejected her lesbian fan base, became incensed when asked about her “position on homosexuality” by an audience member. “Who drafted me as a gay icon? You are looking at the world’s greatest homophobe. Ask God what He thinks,” she said, before shutting off her microphone to complain, “There is always someone who wants to catch me.”
Shocked, who somewhat famously came to Jesus through a black evangelical church she began attending for its gospel choir, spoke in 2008 to the Dallas Voice, a gay paper, about reconciling her image among fans as “an honorary lesbian” with the anti-gay sermons she heard at her new church.
He said he preaches the word of God—not his word, the word of God. And the word of God says that homosexuality is a sin. So I went away, and I made a decision. I could be turned off—driven away once again by narrow-minded bigots from the one hope that I have in my life for salvation. Or I could take what’s good—what I can use—and leave the rest. And that was a decision I made… There are some inconvenient truths now that I’m a born again, sanctified, saved-in-the-blood Christian. So much of what’s said and done in the name of that Christianity is appalling. According to my Bible, which I didn’t write, homosexuality is immoral. But homosexuality is no more or less a sin than fornication. And I’m a fornicator with a capital F.
After several days of silence, Shocked seemingly sought to return to that balance of interests, replying on Twitter to angry fans that “I’m neither against a woman’s right to choose nor gay marriage. Am a fundamentalist tho.” And a statement released late Tuesday by her publicist claimed that her comments had been misunderstood. “[M]y 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.”