On Friday, September 23rd, controversial reggae artist Sizzla was set to perform at 1015 Folsom in what was being described as “a large, rare dancehall show." However, as of yesterday evening, 1015’s owner, Ira Sandler, announced that the show was canceled.
Sizzla is known for 'murder music,' a type of reggae whose lyrics incite violence against the LGBTQ community and glorify killing individuals who identify as gay. He first emerged onto the Jamaican dancehall scene in the late ‘90s, and quickly became notorious for incorporating hateful lyrics into his songs.
During a 2002 Chicago performance, Sizzla openly bragged that he "kills queers," and he urged the audience to kill “sodomites and queers” who “bring AIDS and disease upon people.”
There was even more outcry in 2013, when, during a festival performance in Kingston that was being broadcast to an estimated 315 million people worldwide, Sizzla spent over a minute of his set spewing lyrics attacking LGBTQ people. He had his travel visa revoked after protests over his lyrics, and is only now beginning to do shows in the U.S. again.
We initially learned of Sizzla’s upcoming San Francisco show via an email from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They heard about Sizzla from Todd Larsen of Queer Humboldt, who launched an awareness campaign about Sizzla's anti-LGBTQ statements when he saw that he had been booked for shows in Humboldt County, at Petaluma's Mystic Theatre, and at 1015 Folsom.
“We’ve worked in the past to educate our community on the handful of murder music singers,” wrote Larsen. “Sizzla just snuck into the Reggae on the River [festival] up here [in Humboldt County], and we’ve engaged the sponsor to build in steps to avoid having murder music singers perform again.”
When we reached out to 1015 Folsom, which has supported the LGBTQ community for decades, to inquire as to why they booked the show, they were surprised. An employee told us he wasn’t aware of Sizzla’s anti-gay sentiments.
Sandler, 1015 Folsom's owner of 30 years, was deeply apologetic about the booking. He explained that in late July, when the show was booked, he had just suffered a heart attack and a double bypass.
“I’m a very hands-on owner, and I always vet artists who are potentially controversial,” he told us via email. The booking “slipped through the cracks” while he was taking care of his health.
“We at 1015 have had a long love affair with the LGBTQ community, and will fight tirelessly for their equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” wrote Sandler. “To that end, there was no hesitation in my heart to do the right thing and cancel this show after Hoodline singlehandedly brought this to my attention.”
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