Rock & Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Carlos Santana has taken down an apology he posted on his Facebook page after a viral video emerged this week showing him saying transgender people should stay “in the closet.”
In the video, recorded during a late July concert in Atlantic City, N.J., the 76-year-old musician can be seen pausing the show to share his thoughts on gender identity with an audience of 5,000 attendees.
“When God made you and me, before we came out of the womb, you know who you are and what you are,” Santana, who grew up in San Francisco, said in the clip posted to YouTube on Aug. 19. “Later on, when you grow out of it, you see things and you start believing that you could be something that sounds good, but you know it ain’t right. Because a woman is a woman and a man is a man. That’s it. Whatever you wanna do in the closet, that’s your business. I’m OK with that.”
An apology, initially shared via email with the Chronicle on Thursday and subsequently on Facebook, conveyed Santana’s remorse: “I realize that what I said hurt people, and that was not my intent. I sincerely apologize to the transgender community and everyone I offended.”
However, by the following morning, Santana removed that message from his Facebook page and replaced it with a more succinct post in the form of a poem:
consciousness generates its own kind.
hate begets hate
love begets love.”
During his rant last month, filmed at one of his appearances on a 1001 Rainbows Tour stop at the Hard Rock Live at the Etess Arena and first shared on Reddit, Santana also praised comedian Dave Chappelle, referring to the comedian who came under fire for making transphobic jokes in his 2021 Netflix special “The Closer” as “my brother.”
Santana’s remarks drew criticism from various quarters, including Suzanne Ford and Nguyen Pham, executive director and board president, respectively, of San Francisco Pride.
“Carlos Santana’s recent anti-trans comments are particularly disheartening as he is a prominent Bay Area resident,” they said in a joint statement to the Chronicle. “The fact that he used his incredible platform, onstage, to spew hate underscores the gravity of perpetuating misinformation in a society where gender’s spectrum is well-established.”
The incident occurred as anti-LGBTQ bills were being considered in state legislatures across the United States. Nearly two dozen states have imposed bans or limits on transgender athletes’ sports participation at the K-12 or collegiate level. So far about 20 states have adopted laws or policies — including some blocked by courts — barring gender-affirming medical care, such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery for minors.
“Santana’s influence demands responsible discourse, especially considering the marginalized position of transgender individuals facing discrimination and violence,” Ford and Pham said. “As a community striving for inclusivity, we must channel this moment to reinforce empathy, education, and unity against the backdrop of discriminatory policies, and to encourage allies like Santana to wield their reach in promoting understanding rather than perpetuating detrimental stereotypes.”
The video coincided with Santana’s ticket release for an upcoming documentary about his life, “Carlos: The Santana Journey,” directed by Emmy Award winner Rudy Valdez. The documentary is scheduled to premiere on Sept. 23, and features unreleased archival footage tracing Santana’s life from his early upbringing in Tijuana, Mexico, where he struggled with poverty and sexual abuse, to his rise in the San Francisco music scene and subsequent international fame.
Having lived in San Francisco’s Mission District for most of his life, Santana attended Mission High School before achieving global recognition with hits like “Black Magic Woman” and “Evil Ways,” as well as the multiplatinum “Supernatural” album in 1999.
While Santana resides in Las Vegas now and had a brief hiatus due to a heart procedure in 2021, he is set to resume his 11th year of residency at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay next month.
At the same shows where the viral clip was filmed, Santana told the audience, “We want you to feel precious and priceless because you are significant and meaningful. … It’s important to validate and celebrate you.”
Watch the ‘Rant’ Below:
Carlos Santana goes on anti-trans rant during New Jersey concert:— Pop Base (@PopBase) August 24, 2023
“When God made you and me, before we came out of the womb, you know who you are and what you are… a woman is a woman and a man is a man.” pic.twitter.com/fss8d4qukK