Stars of Hidden Figures repudiate Kim Burrell for demonizing gays


— from Advocate by Lucas Grindley

He sings a duet with her in Hidden Figures and is about to appear alongside her on national television, but right now Pharrell Williams is distancing himself from Kim Burrell, the singer and preacher who was caught on tape calling gay people “perverted.”

Burrell is set to sing “I See a Victory,” from the film Hidden Figures, with Williams in a scheduled appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime show. He never mentioned Burrell by name but his Instagram message was an obvious reference to the controversy over the video.

“I condemn hate speech of any kind,” wrote Williams. “There is no no room in this world for any kind of prejudice. My greatest hope is for inclusion and love for all humanity in 2017 and beyond.”

Burrell has also been featured on out singer Frank Ocean’s track, “Godspeed.” Now she’s getting a round of backlash from the likes of activist Deray McKesson, who said he hopes for the many queer people around her to quit. That’s despite a sort of clarification Burrell posted on Facebook, claiming she was talking about sin broadly and never said all gay people were going to hell.

Here’s the line that directly addresses same-sex love from the Burrell sermon: “That perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women,” said Burrell. “You as a man, you open your mouth and take a man’s penis in your face — you are perverted. You are a woman and will shake your face in another woman’s breast, you are perverted.”

.@KimBurrellLove, I watched your “sermon” last night & took the time to watch the “apology” video this morning. I don’t know your God.

.@KimBurrellLove, if your love for me requires that I hide parts of who I am, then you don’t love me. Love is never a request for silence.

.@KimBurrellLove, your “sermon” is a reminder that, for many of us, the church is a space of faux liberation & hypocritical theology.

.@KimBurrellLove, hatred is not holy. The God I know preached a love deeper than the sophistry you present. I don’t know your God.

To all of the gay people who listened to Kim Burrell’s sermon, remember that you are whole and that she does not represent love in any form.

.@KimBurrellLove, I hope that every gay person whose services you have used in your career refuses to work w/ you now. Your career will end.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show hasn’t issued any statement on its plans for how to handle Burrell as a guest on the upcoming show. Other celebs from the Hidden Figures film, though, have been adding their strongly worded disapproval of the sermon.

“I agree,” wrote actress Octavia Spencer while sharing Williams’ statement on Instagram. “We are all God’s children equal in his eyes. Hatred isn’t the answer. Intolerance isn’t the answer.”

Taraji P. Henson hasn’t shared a statement yet. But Janelle Monáe, another of the stars of Hidden Figures and a well known figure in music herself, had strong words.

“I shouldn’t even have to post this as you guys should already know where I stand,” wrote Monáe. Monáe said “I unequivocally repudiate ANY AND ALL hateful comments against the LGBTQ community. Actually I’m tired of that label. We all belong to the same community, a shared community called humanity.” Monáe didn’t exactly offer advice on how to handle Burrell’s track being included in the movie but she called for speaking out. “We cannot sit Idly by nor will we speak silently when we are confronted with such violence against members of our community,” she wrote, adding that sometimes “I want to slap a lot of people” when she hears their bigotry.

Monáe specifically condemned religious-based bigotry, the kind of which Burrell spewed in her sermon. Burrell later claimed the sermon was intended for “church people” and not the wider internet.

“My advice: If your religion is causing you to spew out words of hate, judge, or look down on others because of who one loves then you need to change it,” wrote Monáe. “And fast.”

Here’s is Monáe’s complete post, which includes the image shared by Williams:


Watch the video of Burrell’s sermon captured below:

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