LONG BEACH -- In spite of recent comments that some took as homophobic, R&B singer Fantasia Barrino says she supports marriage equality and overall equality for gay people.
The 28-year-old Grammy and "American Idol" Season 3 winner is scheduled to headline the first night of the two-day Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival on May 18.
Barrino's response is good news for Long Beach resident John Kirby, who last month came across a December message on Barrino's Instragram page that was disconcerting to many in the gay community.
Kirby posted the message on his Facebook page and emailed Long Beach pride officials for comment. They haven't responded to his emails.
In her message, Barrino wrote: "I RISE ABOVE IT ALL! THE WORLD IS GONE MAD. KIDS, THE GOVERNMENT, The church House" Everybody Trying! Its (sic) a lot that going on that the Bible speaks about we should Not be doing. Weed legal in some places, Gay Marriage Legal BUT YET IM JUDGED! Im not doing Nothing for you " My Life "
In a telephone interview Friday, Barrino said her comments were misinterpreted.
"I was trying to tell people to not judge me," she said. "Some people were criticizing me for having sex outside of marriage. I was trying to say, If you're using the Bible to justify judging me, why don't you judge these other things, too? Why are you only judging me? Why aren't you judging everything? There will always be people lurking to criticize me.
"Of course, I support gay marriage," Barrino said. "I support whatever somebody wants to do, as long as you don't hurt anyone. I always tell people to live their life. "
That explanation is music to Kirby's ears, he said.
"I was upset when I learned about her comments and did some Googling to see how she and her team responded to all the criticism which ensued as a result of the original post," Kirby said. "I found stuff all over the Internet, but never once did she say that members of the LGBT community are acceptable within the context of being human. Nor did she voice any support for gay marriage.
"She should have explained her context in her response, but she didn't. Obviously, her PR people need to do a better job or be fired," Kirby said.
Long Beach pride co-President Kim Maddox couldn't be reached for comment.
Barrino, who performed at Atlanta's pride festival in 2009 and West Hollywood's in 2010, said gay pride concerts are her favorite shows.
"There's something different about gay prides. The audiences don't hold back. They wear what they want to wear. They dance how they want to dance," she said. "It's a bunch of people who can be free and be accepted. "
Long Beach pride is the city's second largest attended event, drawing approximately 80,000 people over two days.
The Pride Festival will be held May 19-20 along Shoreline Drive at Marina Green Park and the parking lot adjacent to Rainbow Lagoon Park.
The May 19 headliners are "American idol" finalists Kimberly Caldwell, Paris Bennett and David Hernandez and "The Voice" finalists Frenchie Davis, Beverly McClellan and Jamar Rogers.
Barrino's appearance at the festival will be in support of her fourth studio CD, "Side Effects of You," which debuted this month at No. 2 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart and No. 4 on the Top Digital Albums chart.
In 2004, the same year she won "American Idol" Season 3, the North Carolina native released her platinum-selling debut, "Free Yourself," and became the first artist in Billboard Hot 100 chart history to debut at No. 1 with her first single, "I Believe. "
Six years later, Barrino released "Back To Me," which featured the hit single "Bittersweet," earned a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
The 30th annual pride festival will be held 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. May 18-19 at Shoreline Drive at Marina Green Park and the parking adjacent to Rainbow Lagoon Park. Tickets are $20 each day and only available at the gate. For information, call 562-987-9191 or visit longbeachpride.com.
Phillip Zonkel can be reached at 562-714-2098. | email@example.com | @zonkelpt on Twitter