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Ten Michelle Shocked shows cancelled after anti-gay remarks

By | Published on Thursday 21 March 2013

Michelle Shocked

American singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked has responded to outrage that followed seemingly homophobic comments she made at a gig in San Francisco last weekend which has resulted in ten of the eleven venues where she was due to play as part of a current tour to cancel her appearances.

It’s not the first time the singer, real name Karen Michelle Johnston, has caused controversy with remarks relating to gay rights, her views on such issues being rather confusing, especially since becoming a born-again Christian in the 1990s.

Reports of the Sunday night gig in San Francisco claimed that Johnston told her audience: “When they stop [anti-gay-marriage legislation] Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilisation, and Jesus will come back”, before alluding to the usually controversial slogan of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church by adding: “You can go on Twitter and say, ‘Michelle Shocked says God hates faggots'”.

Several fans duly tweeted, with the latter line in particular causing online outrage, so much so the operators of ten venues who’d book Johnston to play quickly announced that her show had been cancelled (the eleventh venue hasn’t followed suit, though mainly because its manager is on holiday).

Despite the anger, there was some confusion online as to whether Johnston was trying to be funny or ironic in her on-stage comments, with some fans taking to the net to defend the singer as such. Though radio silence from the lady herself, except for retweeting some of the comments being made about the furore, escalated the scandal.

In a statement issued via her publicist, Johnston finally stated that her words had been misunderstood. She writes: “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”.

Continuing: “When I said ‘tell 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”.

Apologising to any fans she “disappointed” with her remarks, she added: “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 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”.

You can read the full statement on Buzzfeed, and make up your own mind by listening to audio of the incident below. It’s not clear whether the sort of retraction/apology will result in any of the cancelled shows being reinstated.