After Anti-Gay Tirade, Michelle Shocked Shunned in San Francisco
San Francisco Examiner publisher Todd Vogt has called off a planned June 30 concert by Michelle Shocked, the singer who had an anti-gay meltdown during a San Francisco concert in March.
After many people expressed outrage over his plans, Vogt said in a Wednesday, June 19 interview that he’s "sick" over what’s happened. Shocked’s concert was to take place on the day of the San Francisco LGBT Pride parade and celebration.
He said the intention had been "to shine a light" on "bigotry and hatred, and to have Miss Shocked apologize for her comments and perform for free. It was intended to be a healing and good will gesture, and it has turned into something totally, totally different. It was never, ever my or our intention to upset people or to anger them. To the contrary, we were hoping this would help everybody move on and not only provide closure but maybe a fresh start."
Vogt added, "It has been misread and misrepresented and misreported, but it’s obvious that while our intentions were good, they definitely were misguided, so I feel terrible personally, and never, ever intended this outcome."
Vogt and Patrick Brown, chief financial officer of the San Francisco Newspaper Company, are in the process of investing a 49 percent stake in the BAR Media Inc., which will own the Bay Area Reporter .
During a March 17 performance at Yoshi’s, Shocked invoked California’s same-sex marriage ban by saying, "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." She also said, "You are going to leave here and tell people ’Michelle Shocked said God hates faggots.’" Shocked, whose real name is Karen Michelle Johnston, later told CNN’s Piers Morgan, "I admit I made a mistake."
Vogt had sent out numerous tweets recently about Shocked’s planned performance. In some, he promoted the show. On Saturday, June 15, he tweeted, "... Yup, it’s true! We are ’shocked’ to be presenting Michelle Shocked live in a free concert in SF on June 30!" He also defended Shocked in a Tuesday, June 18 message by saying, "We all make mistakes" and "everyone deserves a 2nd chance. But not a 3rd."
It sounds like Vogt would like a second chance, too.
In Wednesday’s interview he said, "I was shocked and surprised by how upset people were," and "I’m doing what I can to try to fix it, and other than apologizing and acknowledging that it has focused a lot of anger and a lot of upset, I’m truly and sincerely sorry for that."
However, Vogt was anything but apologetic in an interview Tuesday, when it was already clear that many weren’t happy with his actions.
Asked about his promoting Shocked, Vogt said, "That’s insulting to me that you would suggest that."
In a follow-up email Tuesday, Vogt said, "You are obviously determined to ’spin’ this story in a preconceived fashion and with a predetermined angle. So be it. You will write it as you have already decided you are going to write it."
He added, "The stretch you have made in your claim [that he’s promoting Shocked] is thinner than a page of the B.A.R. No one, myself included, is a ’promoter’ of Ms. Shocked. To the absolute contrary, we are the only people so far brave enough to have challenged her to come back to the Bay Area and confront her past comments and actions. In my opinion, what we have done is challenged a purported homophobic bigot to own up or apologize or atone for their actions. Regardless of what Ms. Shocked ultimately does, we have won by not letting the spread of hate simply be ignored."
In the interview Tuesday, he’d also said, "You can personally disagree with this, and you can personally think that it’s obscene or insulting," Vogt said, but what Shocked "chooses to do June 30, at least for me, will one way or another bring an end to this."
Wednesday, while he stood by his remark that the B.A.R. was spinning the story, he said, "I’m sorry we’re meeting under these circumstances. This is not what I do. This is not who I am."
Shocked didn’t respond to a Facebook request for comment.
Vogt and Brown are shareholders in the San Francisco Newspaper Company, which owns the San Francisco Examiner , the San Francisco Bay Guardian , and SF Weekly.
Vogt said Tuesday that the Shocked engagement originated about three weeks ago when an advertising representative approached him about a full-page ad from Shocked for the Examiner, Bay Guardian, and SF Weekly Pride guide. Vogt said, "I didn’t believe it" at first and thought it was "a pretty tasteless joke either by people in advertising or by someone pretending to be Michelle Shocked."
Eventually, though, he spoke with Shocked directly. She explained she wanted to buy the ad "to explain what happened at Yoshi’s" and "the subsequent fallout," said Vogt, who said he "politely declined to accept" the advertisement.
But discussion continued. Vogt said he spoke with editorial and advertising staffers from the Examiner and the two alternative weeklies. When "we thought we had something we could live with," Shocked was told the papers would only accept her ad "if we had full editorial control" or the ability to reject it, he said. The cost for the ad was $1,000.
"We also wanted her to come to San Francisco at some point" and "perform a free concert as an apology," Vogt said, or "at a minimum" explain "where she stands and what she believes."