Musician Carlos Santana Issues Apology After Making Anti-Trans Comments

His remarks came at a concert in Atlantic City

Carlos Santana in 2021
Carlos Santana in 2021.

Gutarist Carlos Santana is known for a number of things, from his lengthy career in music to his foray into sparkling wine. Unfortunately for Santana, the latest thing to put him in the spotlight has nothing to do with his artistic or business ventures; instead, it relates to some ill-advised and offensive remarks that he made while on stage in Atlantic City this summer.

Reddit user katekant published an account of the incident, in which Santana went on what katekant described as “the most insane anti-trans bs I’ve maybe ever heard?” early in the concert. Katekant’s partner uploaded a minute-long video in which Santana can be seen engaging in some onstage banter that’s a bit on the free-associative side.

The clip begins with Santana speaking critically of virtual reality, and then says something that sounds relatively inoffensive: “You know who you are.” That seems fine, right? Trust people to know who they are. This, in and of itself, seems like a phrase so all-encompassing virtually no one could disagree with it.

Around 20 seconds later, though, he made a relatively unambiguous statement that was a lot more politically charged — and a lot more contentious: “A woman is a woman and a man is a man.” According to Page Six’s report on the concert, Santana went on to praise Dave Chappelle’s comments about trans people. All of a sudden, that earlier “You know who you are” sounds less like an affirmation and more like the stuff of loaded arguments.

That said, Santana seems to have thought better of his earlier comments, as he followed them up with an apology on his Facebook page this week, as reports. “I am sorry for my insensitive comments. They don’t reflect that I want to honor and respect all person’s ideals and beliefs,” Santana wrote. “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.”

“Here is my personal goal that I strive to achieve every day. I want to honor and respect all person’s ideals and beliefs whether they are LGBTQ or not. This is the planet of free will and we have all been given this gift,” he added. “I will now pursue this goal to be happy and have fun, and for everyone to believe what they want and follow in your hearts without fear. It takes courage to grow and glow in the light that you are and to be true, genuine, and authentic. We grow and learn to shine our light with Love and compliments. Have a glorious existence. Peace.”

I won’t claim to be an expert on Santana’s sociopolitical views; my knowledge of him comes mostly from listening to his early albums and seeing him live once when I was in high school. But he’s always given off a sense of inclusivity, which may be why his initial remarks came as a surprise to many, myself included. Hopefully his apology is a sincere one and he’s learned from the experience.

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