In Wake of Anti-Gay Tirade, Music Venues Dump Michelle Shocked
The media and Internet have been full of comments and reports, most of them negative, about folk singer Michelle Shocked's anti-gay tirade at Yoshi's, a club in San Francisco.
On March 17, Shocked shocked audience members when she told them "God hates fags." Most of the audience walked out and the management shut the concert down. When the club's manager said the show was over, after over two-thirds of the audience walked out, the singer shouted back, "It's not over."
What may be over is Shocked's career. Since the bizarre incident, the troubled troubadour has been facing the implosion of her concert bookings.
A statement by Yoshi's artistic director Derek Hunter echoed widespread opinion that Shocked's outburst reflected an unbalanced mind. "This was Michelle Shock's third visit to Yoshi's San Francisco; her first was March 2009," Hunter wrote. "She has never given any indication that she is anti-gay or racist in her previous plays. She obviously has some serious issues and unfortunately chose our venue to vent them."
All nine of Shocked's pre-Space concerts listed on her website have been cancelled, according to the venue's websites, reported the Chicago Tribune, including a May 5 performance in suburban Evanston.
"After speaking with the promoter of that show about the nature of the remarks, it's clear that this is no longer a show we're willing to put our name on," owners of Evanston Space announced on its website and Facebook page Monday.
The New York Daily News has reported that the Hopmonk Tavern in Novato, Calif., about 30 miles north of San Francisco, has cancelled her March 29 show. "Due to comments made by Michelle Shocked at Yoshi's in San Francisco last night, March 17, we have decided to cancel our show with Michelle on March 29. Refunds can be made at place of purchase," the club's officials said in a statement.
The Denver Post reported that a booker in the nearby college town of Boulder canceled Shocked's May 3 concert. The Post also reported that Colorado's Telluride Bluegrass Festival's organizers wrote on their took to Facebook page that they "are carefully considering the status" of having the singer-songwriter at their event.
"We certainly do not condone any of Michelle's reported statements from her 3/17 performance," the Facebook page noted. "But given our 20-year relationship with Michelle (and our festival being 6 weeks later than her other US performances) we are taking a little extra time to confirm the facts (beyond the 3rd party news stories) before making a final decision."
Shocked's on-stage outburst in San Francisco's Yoshi reportedly was the challenge "You can go on Twitter and say 'Michelle Shocked says God hates fags.'" Not surprisingly, several audience members did just that.
According to The Bay Area Reporter, Shocked also commented on California's Proposition 8 during her set. "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," Shocked told the crowd.
This isn't the first time Shocked has made anti-gay comments. In a 2008 interview with the Dallas Voice she said, "There are some inconvenient truths that I'm now 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," she told a reporter. "According to my Bible, which I didn't write, homosexuality is immoral. But homosexuality is no more less a sin than fornication. And I'm a fornicator with a capital F."
An online article in Spin pointed out that in 2011, the musician also said, "You are looking at the world's greatest homophobe. Ask God what He thinks" during a music festival. Shocked has given conflicting reports on her sexuality, Spin noted. In the 1990 issue of Chicago's OutLines she said that she had a "woman lover."
"I resent like hell that I was maybe 18 years old before I even heard the 'L' word," she said at the time. "I mean, that's understood, growing up sheltered in a Mormon environment. But it would have made all the difference for me had I grown up knowing that the reason I didn't fit in, was because they hadn't told me there were more categories to fit into ... I've never really been able to fit into square holes or round holes."
Activist John Becker launched an online petition that urges Shocked be reprimanded for her remarks and wants more than a doze venues to cancel upcoming concerts. As of this writing, more than 2,350 people have signed the petition.
"Freedom of speech and artistic expression are critically important, but this isn't free speech," Becker writes on the petition. "This is hate speech. And in a world where LGBT people are bullied from the pulpit, on the playground, and at the polls, anti-gay hate speech can have serious consequences including legitimizing bullying and hate crimes, and increasing victims' risk of anxiety, depression, and suicide."