LISTEN: Audio Of Michelle Shocked’s Anti-Gay Rant Emerges. Was She Misinterpreted?

LGBT activist John M. Becker posted audio of Michelle Shocked’s recent outburst at Yoshi’s in San Francisco, and transcribed the important bits.

Shocked claims her words were misinterpreted and insists “I do not, nor have I ever, said or believed that God hates homosexuals (or anyone else),” but you be the judge.

Shocked’s message of hate, which came during her encore, starts in at around 4:36 (emphasis ours):

MS: So it’s not too late. You can jump into this Jesus gang anytime you want. But, um, I was in a prayer meeting yesterday, and you’ve 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, I think maybe Chinese water torture is gonna be the means, the method — once Prop 8 gets, uh, instated, and once, um, preachers are held at gunpoint and forced to marry the homosexuals, I’m pretty sure that that will be the signal for Jesus to come on back.

At one point, she seems to dare the audience to call her a bigot (5:40):

MS: If someone would be so gracious as to please tweet out, ‘Michelle Shocked just said from stage, God hates faggots.’ Would you do it now?

michelle-shocked She then responds to blogger Matt Penfield, who live-tweeted the show, about the likelihood that fans were going to talk about her comments.

MS: I ain’t scared. I ain’t skeered. This is not a tribunal, this is one woman’s opinion.

And it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. I am so committed to loving each and every soul in this room tonight that I could not come here and ignore you. I could not come here and pretend that I was above the conversation, and I couldn’t pretend that I was beneath it either. I had to join it.

Um, that’s the kind of stuff the crazy guy who shouts Bible verses on the N train says to us.

At this point the audience is confused and pissed off. It seems like Shocked might get back to singing, when a woman shouts:

I hope you get wise, Michelle, and realize that there’s nothing to fear. There’s nothing to fear. Everybody is deserving of your — whoever your God is — his love.

By the 7:42 mark, Shocked has gotten angry (Becker says she “literally hisses” :

MS: I am sick of Christians filled with hypocrisy, hiding behind the symbol of the cross.

Audience member: Come on, show it. Show your true self. Come on!

Audience member: I’m confused. Can you clarify? Say what you mean. Come on, Michelle. What are you so afraid of?

MS: I believe that the word of God is just what it says it is: the truth.

By the 8:15 mark, audience members have started walking out, at which point Shocked begins praying in Spanish.

MS (16:07): Oh, don’t bother to applaud, it’s not needed. [applause] I don’t think I can handle all the adulation right now.

Audience Member: That’s because you don’t deserve any.

Audience Member: Everyone should get up and leave. That was rotten! That was a horrible thing to say, if that’s what you believe…

Audience Member: Somebody over there thinks she means something different. Maybe you’ve been confusing.

MS (16:31): I’ve got a question for y’all. It’s a sincere question: how are you enjoying reality so far?

Audience Member: It’s not your reality…

MS: Sucks pretty much, doesn’t it?

Audience Member: It’s her reality, not ours…

MS (interrupting): You can’t have both.

Audience Member (continuing): Don’t come to San Francisco saying that shit.

MS: ‘Don’t come to San Francisco saying that shit.’ Let’s take that note. I just got a tweet, it said ‘Don’t come to San Francisco saying that shit.’ Where do I go to say that shit?

Audience Member: Uh, Arkansas?

Audience Member: Wow, that’s so weird. You’re so weird.

MS: Yeah, it is weird.

Audience Member: Your reality is tweets?

MS (interrupting): This is not my choice.

Audience Member (continuing): Your reality is tweets. According to this show, we spent like 20 percent of the show on tweets, 80 percent was a show, and 40 percent was homophobia.

Audience Member: Get her out of here!

And then the Yoshi’s management intervenes (17:18):

Yeah, I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us tonight at Yoshi’s.

MS: You’re pullin’ the plug, you’re givin’ me the hook y’all.

Audience Members: Hell no! Go on! Sing!

Shocked tried to continue performing for the remaining audience members, but Yoshi’s management started shutting the venue down around her. Passing the hat around for donations, she finally ends her swan song by saying, “God bless us, everyone.”

Sorry, Michelle—it’s kind of hard to misinterpret what you were saying. Shocked has become increasingly erratic and reactionary since being born again some years back. And sadly, as some commenters have suggested, it does seem like she was suffering from some kind of episode that night.

We can have sympathy for that, but to go to the media and defend such statements in the clear light of day? That’s simply inexcusable.

Photo: Rick Diamond

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  • Ottoman

    She’s got to be suffering from an untreated mental illness. And it also sounds like she lied in her explanation afterward. Jesus gonna be pissed.

  • Ann Mason

    Whether Michelle Shocked was being ironic, hateful or suffering some sort of mental breakdown, there’s one thing I can feel strongly about: Yoshi’s management was right to end the concert when they did, and offer a refund to the patrons.

    The content of Ms. Shocked’s performance may be protected by the First Amendment, which only means she won’t be arrested for it. The Yoshi’s management is in charge of the venue, and they understood that abuse was being inflicted on the audience.

    This may not be the last we hear of Michelle Shocked. Someday she might publish a memoir, either defending her behavior or praising the psychotropic drugs which supposedly restored her mental health. At any rate, no future (legal) public behavior will top the sensational, inflammatory mess from last weekend’s concert. She has nothing she can do for an encore.

  • 2eo

    It was a risky play, but it just didn’t come off in the final half [or quarter if you like lousy almost rugby].

    She’s being caught out, and what do you know, the people who had no agenda when mentioning her delusional rantings other than shock turned out to be truthful.

    I am shocked. Literally shocked.

  • Vince Smetana

    Shocked provides her own melancholy soundtrack to this tragedy as it plays out. She’s an obvious champion for the downtrodden, but she’s also pretty messed up in the head. But, there are a lot of talented artists who suffer from mental issues.

  • yaoming

    This is stunning audio. I’m glad Yoshi’s had the decency to pullmthe plug on her show and kick her out. Good luck, Michelle, trying to come back from this debacle. Word gets around. Your bad behaviour will not be rewarded with success.

  • Merv

    The only mental illness she’s suffering from is Christianity. This is mainstream Christianity, no different than what we get from FRC, NOM, FoF, etc.

  • bridge2nowhere

    She’s from East Texas, which means there’s a good chance she has some sort of mental illness.

    There’s a reason they put the state hospital for the insane in Rusk, TX…convenience


    I agree–she has to have a mental illness:
    1) Saying something like that in San Francisco, of all places
    2) Praying in Spanish, randomly.
    Very strange.

  • Andrew

    So she “she finally ends her swan song by saying, “God bless us, everyone.” She forgot to add, unless they are gay ’cause God hates them.

  • hephaestion

    I deal with many people suffering from various mental illnesses every day. Michelle Shocked is definitely suffering from a mental illness, which may be treatable. She needs to see mental health professionals, not wacky ministers.

    Our response to her should be humane and helpful. Do not expect sanity or wisdom from one in her current condition. She needs us to show her tough love now by insisting she get help.

  • Jawsch

    Are we supposed to know who this woman is? Because I’ve never even heard her name before today.

  • MickeyP.

    Her career is DONE! Wonder if SHE’LL misinterpret THAT!

  • Vince Smetana

    @hephaestion: You are the voice of reason in a sea of of unhelpful comments.

  • Vince Smetana

    Or, I should say a lot of unhelpful comments.

  • Elloreigh

    There is no real room for misinterpretation here. This is the kind of ‘Christian love’ that has nothing to do with real love, and everything to do with wanting to control other people. The bit about telling people to tweet that she’d said “God hates fags!” is baiting, self-martyrdom.

    “I am sick of Christians filled with hypocrisy, hiding behind the symbol of the cross.” Well guess what – so are we. That statement is the nail in the coffin.

    It takes a particularly egocentric individual to think they’re somehow serving their God by insulting people. It’s precisely the kind of behavior that makes me want to tell them right where to stick their bibles and “love” (but there’s probably no room left, what with their heads so far up their asses).

  • erikwm

    I do not know any heterosexual woman who look that masculine.

  • Aidan8

    While I appreciate some of the comments re mental illness, I think one can make a pretty good argument that evangelical/fundamentalist christianity results in behaviors and beliefs that resemble mental illness. Perhaps she just drank the Kool-Aid….? Either way, fcuk her and her idiotic rant.

  • rhino79

    I think the larger issue here is a fundamental problem that, in my opinion, has not been adequately addressed by the gay community: the fact that many Christians (and Jews and Muslims) believe that homosexuality is indeed a sin, based on their reading of the Bible, the Word of God. Yes, the Westboro Baptist Church and their “God Hates Fags” nonsense is easily condemnable as hateful; they are an easy target, but they don’t represent the vast majority of Christians.
    If a sincere Christian voices her view that homosexuality is sinful, based on biblical teaching, is this “hate”? If Michelle Shocked had had simply said, “I think that homosexuality is a sin,” would there have been such an uproar? Or was it the fact that she made a loopy, incoherent sppech referencing the Westboro rhetoric that raised so much ire?

  • Merv

    @rhino79: If hate is sincere, is it still hate? That’s a tautology. Her arguments are no more incoherent than any other anti-gay Christian. People don’t pay good money to be insulted.

  • yaoming

    You can still be a Christian if you really want, Michelle… just pay attention to what your lord & saviour, Jesus, said about the gays: NOTHING. Problem solved.

  • rhino79

    @Merv: A tautology, eh? Well, if you want to bring up logic, your reasoning is circular. In your example, you assume precisely the conclusion that needs to be proved, namely that the biblical view of homosexuality is “hate.” So it’s hate because it’s hate?

  • DarkZephyr

    @rhino79: Michelle is the one who used the word “hate” in her tirade. *She* said it was hate.

  • enfilmigult

    @rhino79: I would say yes, that is hate. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a concept that may let a person like that sleep at night, but when the two CANNOT be separated, that’s all it does. They may be able to fool themselves into thinking they can “hate the sin” all by itself, but hating the person is what they’re doing whether they want to or not. It would be like saying having green eyes is a sin; they still like people with green eyes, but as long as they don’t change their eye color or keep them closed 24/7, that person is sinning and that sin is detestable. It’s a ridiculous standard that doesn’t reflect reality.

    Well, maybe a better way to put it than “it’s hate” is that it’s so disrespectful that the difference is negligible to me. There was a time when a person might really not know better, but at this late date, “homosexuality is a sin” is a sentiment is borne of ignoring the hell out of the millions of gay people saying over and over and over that “being gay” isn’t an activity you choose to do or not and the concept of sin doesn’t apply. That kind of stubborn determination to mischaracterize what homosexuality is—and tell gay people, as if they weren’t the ones who knew better—doesn’t say a lot about the person’s ability to empathize and respect others. (And if they’re one of the ones who think their garbled ideas about the subject are good enough reason to keep gay rights off the books and encourage “conversion therapy,” woah boy am I not interested in hearing them explain how not hateful they are.)

  • Cam

    She was raised Mormon, she is a closet case, she is now born again. End of story.

  • D9W

    I call it smoking too much right wing christian pot. See that’s what happens when you huff too much on an air joint or the religous bong.

  • NormdePlume

    Michelee- Obscurity is calling on line 1.


    1: She is fucking Christian.
    2: She ios not even white.
    3: Give her a dildo.

  • Elloreigh

    @rhino79: ”
    If a sincere Christian voices her view that homosexuality is sinful, based on biblical teaching, is this “hate”?

    As an isolated expression of a religious belief without any informative context, this doesn’t sound like an expression of hate. The trouble is, such expressions are rarely (if ever) uttered in isolation without any supporting context. More often, they take place in a context that singles out homosexuality as being a worse sin than others, and are often supported with reference to biblical passages that are alleged to condemn any and all homosexual practices as a sin worthy of death.

    What’s more, the greater context is that of a religious person thinking that their beliefs are somehow more righteous than others’, and in a political/legal context, that they should be a basis for policy-making and controlling others through the rule of law.

    Given such context, yes – it’s an expression of hate.

    I don’t care what any Christian considers to be a “sin”. They’re welcome to their beliefs, but I am not obligated to welcome the effort to impose them on those who don’t share those beliefs, nor of the attempt to substitute beliefs for facts when debating issues of public policy.

    In the specific case of Michelle Shocked’s rant, the political/legal context is clear enough from her own statement placing it there: “once Prop 8 gets, uh, instated, and once, um, preachers are held at gunpoint and forced to marry the homosexuals…”

    Tp argue that her statements when taken as a whole aren’t hateful, or to characterize them as merely an expression of Christian belief in the sinful nature of homosexuality, is incredible. It asks us to ignore not only the context of her remarks, but their placement in the much broader context of public debate over homosexuality and how matters of belief have been used as weapons in a “culture war” against anything that conflicts with those beliefs, homosexuality in particular.

    Clear enough?

  • JoeP

    @hephaestion: I grew up in a family with untreated mental illness. Listening to the sound clip, and given her and her family history, I would strongly affirm that her brain was being hijacked by illness that night. Yes, the outcome is distasteful, unpleasant, unfortunate. Disappointing for music fans and ticket holders.

    I laud your compassion. She obviously is out of control of her mind, and desperately trying to regain control. The canceled gigs may be a blessing, giving her time to regroup and perhaps pursue some medical help (or not, as is often sadly the case). There remains such a powerful social stigmata attached to mental illness that makes it a source of shame for those afflicted. Funny that few people would think about kicking a cancer patient around, yet folks suffering from mental illness are often given a very dim view.

    I understand that the extreme religiosity (as opposed to religious view/convictions held with balance) often throws a big emotional wrench into the outcome of these acting-out episodes. The interface of religiosity and mental illness is not well understood, but is relatively common. I personally despise the views emanating from her rant, but will choose to not believe they are pointed at me or anything resembling the essence of Michelle Shocked.

    I saw Michelle give a brilliant performance many years ago in Chicago. She’s an extremely talented woman. Many people with chronic illnesses (and addictions), remain high-functioning for a long time. But there is that inevitable point where the disease starts to run the show. I vote for allowing her insane commentary to roll off me. And for showing compassion and support for her getting help to mentally operate out of a better place.

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