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01/08/2013

Fantasia, I'm glad you clarified—but you were not taken out of context

by Jeremy Hooper

In more measured comments than the ones she has been offering, Fantasia Barrino clarifies her recent comments. StarPulse has the interview:

There was some recent controversy over your comments in an Instagram post regarding gay marriage. Since you are known to have wide support in the gay community, can you clear up any misconceptions for us all over the post?

First of all, my words were taken out of context! After being personally attacked on my Instagram account, I was simply trying to respond and say we live in a world where things are becoming more acceptable…thank God! I was using gay marriage as an example of other matters by trying to say that people are becoming more accepting of gay marriage, of weed being legalized in some states etc. all as a comparison to the personal aspects of my life. However, my question really was ‘Why are people still judging me?’ It was not that I was trying to judge anyone. Anybody that knows anything about my history should know how I have been judged and talked about negatively from the first day that I hit the American Idol stage. However, I am not a judgmental person and never will be. I like to see people do what they enjoy and be with the person they enjoy being with. The LGBT community has been, and still are to date, my biggest supporters. Now…how you coin'?!

Do you feel like there was a rush to judgment before understanding what you meant?

100% and it's such a shame that one blogger can take something and twist your words and make a mountain out of a mole hill, just to simply start unnecessary drama.

Take this opportunity then to set the record straight for all of us first hand: What are your thoughts specifically on gay marriage?

I am happy that the people in the LGBT community are now becoming legally respected and allowed to marry who they love. You should be able to spend your life with the person you want to, protect them and be protected as well… legally!
FULL INTERVIEW: Fantasia Barrino Sets The Record Straight On Her Love For Her LGBT Supporters And Their Rights [Star Pulse]

As far as I know, I'm the first person who posted her Instagram rant. Most sites have certainly credited me as being. So if I'm that "one blogger," let me say as clearly as I can: (1) I couldn't tell Screen Shot 2012-12-31 At 8.02.54 Amyou one song Fantasia Barrino sings, so I couldn't have less of a personal bone to pick with this artist; (2) I'm not the kind of human who even uses words like "drama," much less someone who cares to start it (high school was long ago); (3) My post that kicked off this whole thing consisted solely of Fantasia's own verbatim words coupled with one silly little quip that pretty much brushed off her thoughts, whatever they meant. As far as I was concerned, it was a one-shot post on a holiday week. And the only reason the post existed at all is because FANTASIA HERSELF WROTE SOMETHING ONLINE, not because any "one blogger" did.

I posted the rant because several people sent it to me, all of them outraged by the context that they themselves gleaned. I then went to Twitter and saw the very same reaction. I could not find one person who deciphered any another meaning. Even the folks happy with what she said were applauding her for what they saw as a condemnation of marriage equality. Every single person I came across—and I did, in fact, field test my own reaction before posting—found one and only one meaning in her "the world is gone mad" rant. All of them saw it as condemnatory of marriage/gays. I didn't see one person suggesting another interpretation.

The proper way for Fantasia to respond to her own words was to step up and say, "Oh, wait—no, no, no! That's not what I meant. I see why it reads that way but that's not what I meant. What I meant was… [insert explanation and commitment to equality]." LGBT people are a very forgiving lot, and we most always prefer to have a friend than an adversary. We would have loved a rapid, heartfelt, and genuine clarification. Personally, I would have loved to get quickly past it so I talk about things that actually matter to me rather than focus on a story that trended more into the realm of entertainment gossip than into the political world that is my butter's bread.

But unfortunately, quick and honest response is not what we got because that's rarely what we get in the world of celebrity controversy. Instead, we got immediate claims of her being "taken out of context," first from the publicist and then from Fantasia in yet another rant. We got a complete and utter non-apology. Every single person who had a strong reaction to this story was said to be too dense to understand the deep and obvious meaning that was so crystal clear in Ms. Barrino's initial rant. They (publicist and entertainer) suggested we were all being unfair, not Fantasia. She was the victim and we were the aggressors. Shoot the messenger was the game of the week.

So fine, whatever. I'm a big boy, I can take it. If messenger-shooting helps Ms. Barrino to get past this, then so be it. As long as her commitment is genuine and her clarification is in fact honest, then I am more than willing to be an unfairly criticized vehicle by which she can ratchet up some strong support for equality. The greater good is always my focus, and if Fantasia wants to use her platform for that aforementioned good, then that's fantastic.

But just a note to future celebs who dish something that 99.9% of recipients view as misguided or downright offensive: Step the frick up and take the reaction for what it is! People in the LGBT community are not, for the most part, sitting with torches and pitchforks, lying in wait to pounce on someone in an unfair way. If you, someone who has invited press by virtue of your public role, are facing resounding public scrutiny, then you might have done a little something to earn it. The way to piss people off is to act as if everyone else is in the wrong and you are the mere innocent who never gets a break.

You have gotten some great breaks in life, Fantasia. You have surely suffered some lumps as well. Last week was on the lumpy side. The way to smooth it over is to take responsibility for any confusion you yourself engendered. Would have been much easier for all of us.

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