July 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Montgomery exec asks Fillmore to cancel band
Molotov, music, Gay News, Washington Blade

Activists are threatening to protest Moltov’s upcoming show in Silver Spring, Md. at the Fillmore. (Promotional photo courtesy Molotov)

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett sent a letter on July 18 to the Fillmore Theater in Silver Spring, Md., asking its manager to cancel a performance next month by a Mexican band that includes anti-gay lyrics in several of its songs.

Leggett’s letter followed concerns expressed by LGBT activists that the hip-hop group Molotov uses lyrics in Spanish that are interpreted widely to mean “faggot,” including a phrase “kill the faggot.” Activists call the lyrics hurtful to the LGBT community and have warned that they could encourage anti-LGBT violence.

“I have serious concerns about this booking,” Leggett told the Fillmore’s general manager, Stephanie Steele, in his letter. “I am personally offended. I understand that the First Amendment provides for freedom of speech, and that even distasteful speech may be protected speech,” he said.

But he added, “Just because one might argue that everyone has the right to say, show, or sing something doesn’t mean they ought to exercise that right…In addition to expressing my displeasure I would ask you to reconsider the Fillmore’s decision to book the Molotov band.”

The theater and the California-based company that owns it, Live Nation Entertainment, have not responded to calls from the Washington Blade seeking comment on the controversy. The Washington Post reported that Steele did not respond to its request for comment for a Post story on the controversy last week.

But according to the Post, Live Nation spokesperson Jim Yeager said the performance by Molotov scheduled for Aug. 26 would not be cancelled.

Members of Molotov and its supporters have argued that the controversial lyrics, including the Spanish words “puto” and “maricon” that many interpret as slurs against gay men, are meant to target corrupt politicians in Mexico, not gay people.

A spokesperson for the LGBT organization Equality Maryland said the group is considering staging an “informational” protest outside the theater on the night of the performance.

A petition posted on the website change.org by local gay activist and attorney Gabriel Rodriguez-Rico, calls on the Fillmore Silver Spring to “not provide a stage for violently anti-gay messages.”

Donna Biggler, a spokesperson for Leggett, said the Fillmore had not responded to Leggett’s letter as of Tuesday.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Activist

    Irwin, your argument is the same one that the band made when it was confronted with protests by gay activists — Mexican and Spanish gay activists — about their song. It just does not ring true. Even if people concede your claim that Puto means “assh*le,” which I don’t concede, but let’s just do so for the sake of this point, then how do you defend the band’s use of the slur “maricon?” What do you say about that? Does it also miraculously mean something other than “faggot” when the band uses it? Don’t think so.

    Your argument, and that of the band, is essentially the same as when adolescents in the US call this or that, or someone, “gay” and then say that they did not intend the word to mean to refer to homosexuality but instead to refer to something weak, lame, etc. That argument is almost as insulting as the slur itself. The anti-gay animus behind the slur is still fueling it, even when it is used to attack something else. Gay, in other words, means something bad, undesirable, unacceptable, etc.

    Lastly, “puto” as you say has various meanings across Latin America. In Mexico, however, a PRIMARY meaning is “faggot,” especially when it is coupled with the other slur, “maricon,” whose meaning universally is a slur for a gay male.

  • Activist

    Irwin, I understand your argument, but you really are proving my point. Yes, Latinos like you and me may use “maricon” to refer to people other than gays, but the definition of the term is still “faggot.” Look up the word in any Spanish dictionary and you will see that the primary definition is that of the derogative anti-gay slur. That people in Spanish AND in English call people and things “gay” and “faggot” because they want to define them as queer and weak and cowardly and stupid does not change the fact that the words themselves primarily refer to homosexuals. The connotation is that the target is queer and weak and cowardly because the slurs mean “gay.” In other words, you are getting bogged down in semantics and, with all due respect, defending an indefensible use of anti-gay slurs and lyrics. Even if “puto” were in a gray area, “maricon” is most certainly not. It means “faggot” throughout Latin America. It’s like defending the use of the terms “retarded” or “bitch” by saying that the target was neither intellectually disabled nor a female dog and that you used them solely to mean “dumb” or “unpleasant.” Thing is that those uses are still highly offensive to the intellectually disabled and to women as well as to their allies.

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