"There's no room for any kind of prejudice in 2017," producer and singer Pharrell Williams declared on The Ellen Show, which axed an appearance by Kim Burrell after homophobic comments made by the gospel superstar surfaced online.
Burrell had been slated to join Williams on Ellen DeGeneres' hit daytime talk show Thursday to promote the new film Hidden Figures. Williams, one of the movie's producers, and Burrell were slated to perform I See a Victory, a song from his soundtrack for the drama that they've performed in public over the past few weeks.
However, producers dropped the singer after a video of Burrell preaching at Love & Liberty Fellowship — the Houston church she founded — circulated widely online late last week. In the undated recording, she is seen delivering a sermon in which she references a "perverted homosexual spirit" and suggests gays will "die from it."
'She said some very not-nice things about homosexuals, so I didn't feel like that was good of me to have her on the show, to give her a platform.' - Ellen DeGeneres
Amid a storm of condemnation as well as some support, Burrell subsequently released a video message in which she refused to apologize, claimed she was misrepresented and doubled down on her earlier statements.
"She said some very not-nice things about homosexuals, so I didn't feel like that was good of me to have her on the show, to give her a platform, after she's saying things about me," DeGeneres — arguably one of the most prominent LGBT personalities in show business — stated in a video excerpt released ahead of Thursday's episode.
"[Burrell is] a fantastic singer and I love her — just like I love everybody else," Williams said, adding "We all have to get used to everyone's differences and understand that this is a big, gigantic, beautiful, colourful world, and it only works with inclusion and empathy. It only works that way."
'Intolerance isn't the answer'
Earlier, without making specific reference to Burrell, Williams had posted a statement on Instagram saying that he condemns "hate speech of any kind."
Hidden Figures co-stars Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer also shared and reiterated his comments.
"We are all God's children equal in his eyes. Hatred isn't the answer. Intolerance isn't the answer," Spencer posted.
"I unequivocally repudiate any and all hateful comments against the LGBTQ community," Monae said in her lengthy missive.
"I will rejoice when folks stop thinking they are God, Jesus' assistant, picking and choosing what 'sins' are acceptable in the Bible, and using the Bible as a whip! We can't afford anymore tearing down of our shared humanity."
The backlash against Burrell seems to have extended beyond the Ellen appearance.
Me: Son, can we crop Kim Burrells voice out of your song??— @katonya
"Son, can we crop Kim Burrell's voice out of your song?" Katonya Breaux, mother of hit R&B singer Frank Ocean, posted via Twitter. Burrell is featured alongside Ocean, who is bisexual, on the track Godspeed from his latest album, Blonde.
I mean damn. Hypocrisy and the inciting of hate pisses me off. Opportunistic &?%#€!!— @katonya
Meanwhile, Texas Southern University told the Associated Press Burrell's radio show, Bridging the Gap, "is no longer airing as part of KTSU Radio programming."