Fans are left wondering what happened to folk musician Michelle Shocked after she stunned a crowd at the San Francisco venue Yoshi's Sunday night by embarking on a torrid anti-gay tirade, declaring that legalizing gay marriage will lead to "the downfall of civilization."
Wikimedia Commons / Rob Keaton
Michelle Shocked performing at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, Calif., on March 18, 2010.
Despite the fact that most people haven't even heard her name since she was a mid-level alt-folk singer-songwriter plying her trade in the early-'90s Lilith Fair scene, Shocked's gay-bashing rant was a hot topic on the Internet Monday, as news spread about the hateful things she said during the course of her performance.
The news about her offensive words is particularly troubling to longtime fans who started listening to her back when she was a progressive feminist who refused to be defined by gender roles and spoke out against the strictures of the Mormon faith, under which she was raised. So it was quite shocking to most of the people in the crowd at Yoshi's -- which is known for drawing an accepting, gay-friendly, progressive crowd -- when she started slamming gays.
A number of years ago Shocked declared herself to be a "born-again" Christian, but she had not previously taken the stage to overtly slam homosexuality with the vitriol she spewed at Yoshi's Sunday night.
There seems to be no official account or publicly available video of the evening's shocking display by the 51-year-old Texan -- real name Karen Michelle Johnston -- but news reports and social media postings have provided a breakdown of some of her most offensive comments.
And a Yoshi's representative confirmed to the New York Daily News that Shocked had made offensive comments and would not be invited back to perform there, a fact that led at least two venues to cancel coming gigs.
“This was Michelle Shock[ed]'s third visit to Yoshi's San Francisco; her first was March 2009. 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,” a Yoshi's rep told the Daily News.
“We at Yoshi’s SF do not & will not ever tolerate the type of bigotry & hatred exhibited last night by @MShocked,” Yoshi's tweeted on Monday. “She will never be back.”
And as word of her outburst spread across the Internet Monday, a wide range of opinions were expressed via Twitter, Facebook, blogs and news sites, but the most visually evocative response is likely the video at this link, in which a gay, longtime Michelle Shocked fan takes a hammer and scissors to what he describes as "one of my favorite albums of all time," namely a copy of her debut CD, leaving it in pieces.
Shocked's official Twitter feed had not directly addressed or referenced her remarks as of 9:15 p.m. Monday, but on Sunday evening she did tweet out the following message, which seems to be a coy reference to the negative response her rant received:
"Truth is leading to painful confrontation," she tweeted after a steady flow of angry responses to her comments began to flood her Twitter account.
As for exactly what led her to hold that her extreme positions are the "truth," that's a question that will likely plague her fans -- current and former -- until she decides to address it directly, if she ever does.
For those who want to know exactly what was said, here are two of the most egregious comments that fans and news outlets said Shocked made Sunday night in San Francisco:
“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.”
“You are going to leave here and tell people, 'Michelle Shocked said God hates f-----s,’” Shocked said, in what appears to be a reference to one of the mottos of the Westboro Baptist Church, which has become infamous for picketing funerals of soldiers, murder victims and others in order to push its extremist views.
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