Audio has just emerged of Michelle Shocked‘s anti-gay remarks at a show in San Francisco that have caused the implosion of her U.S. tour and, in all likelihood, her career.
Shocked claimed this afternoon that her remarks were “misinterpreted.” The audio itself, which was sent to me by reader Robert Martin, suggests otherwise. I’ve transcribed it below (and bolded the relevant parts) so readers and listeners can judge for themselves.
It all starts at the 4:37 mark:
Michelle Shocked: 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, uhhh, 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 [emphases mine].
There you have it, folks. Remember, Shocked told CNN that ”[her] 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.” But as the audio shows, on the stage that night at Yoshi’s, Shocked absolutely did claim that very “vantage point” as her own.
After the above remarks, the audience chuckles and murmurs uncomfortably. Someone can be heard incredulously saying “What?” to which Shocked replies, laughing, ”You said you wanted reality.”
Then Shocked continues (5:40):
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? [emphasis mine]
Some members of the audience continue chuckling, while others are shocked. Another audience member shouts “Maybe some people’s gods…”
Shocked went on:
MS: Just adjusting my bra strap. Nothin’ worth gettin’ in a froth over.
She then responds to a presumably stunned audience member:
MS: You’re confounded. Matt [Penfield, who live-tweeted Shocked's show from the stage], you might need to come back up here.
Matt Penfield: There’s gonna be a loooooot of talking about that.
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. [emphasis mine]
This is when the audience seems to start really getting uncomfortable. Shocked thanks someone in the audience for giving her a “one-handed clap,” tells an awkward anecdote about being a “white girl sittin’ in a black church” and getting reprimanded for her method of clapping, and then strums a chord like she’s going to start another song. An audience member 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.
Shocked asks the woman if she can respond “off the microphone,” to which the woman replies that she’d actually rather have Shocked respond on the microphone. Ms. Shocked’s tone abruptly changes — her voice rises markedly, and she literally hisses (7:42):
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: 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. [emphasis mine]
That’s when the sound of rustling chairs and exiting patrons can be clearly heard (8:15). By this point, many in the crowd seem have come to the conclusion that Shocked is not trying to be funny, not trying to make a joke, but rather, expressing her sincerely-held anti-gay beliefs.
MS (8:27): I’m just saying one thing, just one thing. Just one thing.
And then she starts praying in Spanish. Seriously.
She sings a song, but the much of the audience that remains at this point is clearly hostile. An audience member shouts at her as the song finishes, and Shocked responds:
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: Uhhh, 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!
(Oh look, Michelle still has a few supporters left! How nice…)
At this point she starts to play again and advises the remaining audience members: “They’re gonna take away the microphone, you’re gonna wanna stay close.” The management starts closing down around Shocked, but she continues singing. At 18:45 a manager cuts in again and informs the audience that servers will be with them shortly to close out their tabs. Shocked sings angrily about seeing other people as the audience leaves, then says that since she figures she won’t be paid, she’s going to pass the hat and hope people drop $1 in. She then closes: “God bless us, everyone.”
I’m sorry, folks, but whatever you think of Shocked’s erratic and incoherent behavior — and I happen to agree with those who speculate that she may in fact have had some kind of a mental breakdown – she wasn’t misunderstood, nor was she paraphrasing the bigoted beliefs of anti-gay Christians. She clearly and repeatedly stated that the anti-gay views she expressed were her own “reality,” and didn’t back down from them when audience members angrily challenged her, nearly all patrons left, and the venue shut the whole thing down.
Shocked isn’t the victim here. Her hateful remarks were understood loud and clear.