The Atlantic

Prince: Gay Icon, Whether He Wanted to Be or Not

How to reconcile his later conservatism with the sexual liberation he stood for earlier in life?
Source: Mike Blake / Reuters

In 2008, the New Yorker writer Claire Hoffman asked Prince what he thought of social issues like gay marriage and abortion. Reported Hoffman of his response: “Prince tapped his Bible and said, ‘God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’”

This exchange caused one of the last great controversies in Prince’s career. The “homophobe” label itself to him, accompanied by the bitter shock of many fans. “The irony, it burns,” the blogger Joe Jervis. “The pop star Perez Hilton that the misquoted him: “What His Purpleness actually did was gesture to the Bible and said he follows what it teaches, referring mainly to the parts about loving everyone and refraining from judgment,” Hilton wrote. But the years after that saw Prince talking about gay rights, and some writers saw subtle homophobia in a few of his later and .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min readPsychology
The Therapeutic Potential of Stanning
“Superhero therapy” encourages people to think like their favorite movie characters. It seems to work.
The Atlantic9 min readSociety
The Common Misconception About ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors’
The constitutional standard for impeachment is different from what’s at play in a regular criminal trial.
The Atlantic5 min readScience
The Worst Day in Earth’s History Contains an Ominous Warning
One of the planet’s most dramatic extinctions was caused in part by ocean acidification, which has become a problem in our own era.