It seems like an unfortunate incident for such a feel-good film, but the cast and production team of Hidden Figures has been dealing with a huge backlash to a sermon preached by one of the singers on the soundtrack. On January 5, singer Kim Burrell was scheduled to perform on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime show as a promotion in support of the buzz-worthy period film. Honing in on the amazing ways in which African-American women impacted the early days of the space race, this movie is full of positive, empowering messages. Unfortunately, Burrell didn’t seem to get the memo about acceptance and positivity.
A shocking video of Burrell recently made its way to the internet, and many fans were surprised by what they saw. In it, Burrell issued a harsh rebuke of homosexuality. Not only that, but she also went into graphic detail, describing how it was inappropriate for people of the same sex to touch certain body parts on one another. In an angry rant that seemed unhinged and disconnected at several times, Burrell condemned the LGBT community for what she referred to as a “perversion”. In the crowd, several churchgoers can be heard agreeing with the volatile terms Burrell is using. However, it is obvious that at least one of these people—the person who filmed the hateful sermon—somehow knew that it would make a big splash on the internet.
Obviously, this kind of judgmental rhetoric was as far from the inclusion message of Hidden Figures as any idea could possibly be. And it didn’t take long for Burrell’s song collaborators to come forward and reject her comments. Pharrell Williams took to Instagram in order to preach inclusion and love, while Hidden Figures star Janelle Monae also released a statement encouraging tolerance. Pledging to continue to fight for the LGBTQ community, Monae made her thoughts known. She also took a swipe at people who claim to be religious but preach hatred.
However, it wasn’t until yesterday that Burrell received her own final judgment of sorts—Ellen DeGeneres offered up a quick, terse tweet letting all of her fans know where she stood. Stated very succinctly, the tweet informed everyone that Burrell would not be performing on her show. As one of the most visible, successful lesbians in the entertainment world, there is no doubt that DeGeneres felt she had a responsibility to her community. Once Burrell’s angry, shocking comments surfaced, there wasn’t any reason for her to be kept on the show.
For her part, Kim Burrell responded to the controversy by taking to Facebook Live and claiming that she did not hate the “sinner” but rejected the “sin”.