Why Was Michelle Shocked Shell-Shocked?
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
"Please do not understand me too quickly." -Andre Gide
Which of the following ten denials are true and which are false? Richard Nixon: “I’m not a crook.” Vladimir Putin: “I’m not a thief.” Bill Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Edward Snowden: “I’m not a traitor.” Paula Deen: “I’m not a racist.” George Zimmerman: “I’m not a murderer.” The New York Times (In a crossword puzzle, “Shylock” was a clue, and “Jew” was the answer): “We’re not anti-Semitic.” Lance Armstrong: “I’m not a doper.” Donald Trump: “I’m not a total asshole.” And Michelle Shocked: “I’m not a homophobe.”
In March, singer-songwriter Michelle had spouted between musical numbers what appeared to be a fanatical Christian anti-gay rant at Yoshi’s in San Francisco:
“But I was in a prayer meeting yesterday, and you gotta 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’re gonna be, uh [facetiously], I think maybe Chinese water torture is gonna be the means, the method—[off-handed, flippantly] once Prop 8 gets instated, and once preachers are held at gunpoint, and forced to marry [in a character voice] the homosexuals. I’m pretty sure that will be the signal for Jesus to come on back.”
Audience: [laughter] “Whaaat?”
“You just said you wanted reality [laughs]. If someone would be so gracious as to please tweet out, ‘Michelle Shocked just said, from stage, 'God hates faggots [laughter]. Would you do it now?’” [laughter]
Disappointed fans walked out. Yoshi’s gay manager shut off her microphone, insisted that she leave the stage, and banned her from performing there for life. At least fourteen gigs at other venues were annulled, and her career swirled its way down the drain. So she decided to issue this statement:
I believe in a God who loves everyone, and my faith tells me to do my best to also love everyone. Everyone: gay or straight, stridently gay, self-righteously faithful; left or right, far left, far right; good, bad, or indifferent. That’s the law: everyone. I may disagree with someone’s most fervently held belief, but I will not hate them. And in this controversy, that means speaking for Christians with opinions I in no way share about homosexuality. Will I endorse them? Never. Will I disavow them? Never. I stand accused of forsaking the LGBT community for a Christianity which is—hear me now—anathema to my understanding of faith. I will no doubt take future flack for saying so. I’m accused of believing that “God hates fags” and that the repeal of Prop 8 will usher in the End Times. Well, if I caused such an absurdity, I am damn sorry.
To be clear: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any so-called faith, preaching intolerance of anyone. Again, anyone: straight or gay, believers or not: that’s the law. That means upholding my punk rock values in the most evangelical enclaves and, in this case, speaking up for the most fearful of fundamentalists in, well, a San Francisco music hall full of Michelle Shocked fans. As an artist in this time of unbearable culture wars, I understand: this means trouble, and this is neither the first nor last time trouble has come my way. And that’s fine by me. I know the fear many in the evangelical community feel about homosexual marriage, as I understand the fear many in the gay community feel toward the self-appointed faithful. I have and will continue speaking to both. Everything else – Facebook, Twitter, whatever – is commentary.