Carlos Santana apologises after concert rant suggesting trans people should stay ‘in the closet’

Legendary Mexican American guitarist Carlos Santana has apologised after saying that being transgender 'ain't right' at his New Jersey concert last month. (Getty Images)

Legendary Mexican American guitarist Carlos Santana has apologised to “everyone offended” after saying that being transgender “ain’t right” at his New Jersey concert last month.

The “Smooth” guitarist joins a growing number of artists making contentious remarks about trans people. In recent weeks, singers such as Kiss’ Paul Stanley, Alice Cooper, Ne-Yo and Dee Snider have all faced backlash for their comments about the trans community.

The Latin American jazz/rock fusion artist found fame in the late 60s with his band – Santana – which went on to win eight Grammy Awards and become one of the best-selling musical groups of all time.

A resurfaced clip from a Santana concert in Atlantic City last month shows the musician sharing his perspective on the transgender community, who, he implied, should remain “in the closet”.

During the one-minute video uploaded to YouTube, the “Oye Como Va” singer addressed his cheering audience between songs.

“When God made you and me – before we came out of the womb, you know who you are and what you are,” he said.

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“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.”

Santana ended the video by pledging his support for controversial comedian Dave Chappelle. The Latin American jazz/rock fusion pioneer placed his hands together, saying he is “like this with my brother Dave Chappelle”.

Chappelle has made his views on the trans community clear, branding protestors outside his show “transgender lunatics” and including derogatory jokes about trans people in his award-winning Netflix show The Closer.

Following criticism from LGBTQ+ fans, Santana issued an apology on his Facebook page.

In the statement, posted on Thursday (24 August), he apologised for his “insensitive” comments, declaring that he honours and respects all people and it was never his intention to hurt anyone.

Carlos Santana performing.
Carlos Santana performing. (Getty/Robin Little/Redferns)

“I sincerely apologise to the transgender community and everyone I offended,” he wrote, before offering reflections on his own self-growth.

“Here is my personal goal that I strive to achieve every day. I want to honour 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. 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.”

Santana’s comments come at a time when anti-LGBT+ legislation is being rolled out across the US. Right-wing lawmakers like as Ron DeSantis are moving to strip away the rights of trans people, with legislative attacks on access to gender-affirming care and public bathrooms.

Fans commenting under Santana’s apology, however, have shared their ongoing disappointment.

“My heart is broken. I appreciate your apology. However, after decades of being a fan, numerous concerts, and many shared Bay Area friends, you’ve lost me,” one fan commented on Facebook. “The hurt runs deep. You don’t have the heart and love that I thought you did. I’m sad to say goodbye.”

Another fan accused Santana of posting “word salad” and urged them to “rethink their apology”.

“I am so disappointed in you. I’ve never known you to spread any ideas except for peace and love. Now, you’ve used your power to kick down at one of the most vulnerable and abused groups in society,” a third fan echoed, encouraging the musician to educate himself further.

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