DJ ArtForm — the “third-party contractor" fired by the San Diego Padres for his role in the national anthem mixup that embarrassed the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus over the weekend — is apologizing and insisting there was no "hate" or "bad intent" on his part.
The Gay Men's Chorus had gathered on the field before Saturday's game — it was Pride Night at Petco Park — to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." But instead a woman's recorded voice was heard singing the anthem — and the song just kept going as the 100-member singing group stood on the field.
“I just felt this dread come over me because I was so embarrassed. Some of us started to sing along. After that, we just stood there," choral member Dan England told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We thought they would ask us to sing, but they just asked us to leave the field.”
Afterward there were calls for an investigation as some were concerned the incident was intentional.
“Besides the obvious embarrassment, there is a feeling in the community that this was done on purpose,” the chorus’ executive director, Bob Lehman, told CNN. “My first instinct was that this was done on purpose. I really don’t want to believe that. I just can’t.”
But DJ ArtForm said in a Facebook post that the whole thing was accidental.
"My deepest apologies and sincere regret toward the entire San Diego Gay Men's Chorus & the LGBT community for the incident that occurred during the National Anthem," he wrote in the Monday night post. "It was a very unfortunate mistake but it was just that, an error. I in no way, shape or form directed any type of hate, bad intent or discrimination towards the Chorus or anyone involved."
He added that his gig with the Padres was his "dream job" and that he has "family members & friends that are a part of the LGBT community & I have always been a supporter of Equal Human Rights, so it pains me greatly to see that I am being accused of acting intentionally."
DJ ArtForm also wrote that he's "appalled by some of the negative, homophobic comments made by fans related to the National Anthem incident" and is trying to set up a meeting with LGBT leaders in San Diego and the Gay Men's Chorus to discuss what happened.
"I've let down my City, my family & everyone who had faith in me," he concluded. "Once again, I'm truly sorry for this entire ordeal."
But responses to DJ Artform's post were mostly positive, even from some members of the LGBT community:
"As a member of the Gay Community, I am deeply sorry for what happened to you! I was there on Saturday, and while unfortunate, I do not think it should have been made to be this big of a deal and definitely should not have cost you your job!" James Allen Slaff commented. "You didn't cause any [of] the hate speech directed at the chorus, that would be the drunk and intolerant people. How you became the scapegoat, I do not know! Good luck!"
"Unfortunately, the thirst for blood is a difficult urge to satisfy," wrote Josh Ramirez. "As a gay male, I think this was blown way out of proportion with phrases like discrimination and hate crime. I'm truly sorry that this happened to you, and I hate that your livelihood has been affected by this. Please keep your head up, and know that you have a lot of people on your side."
"I support you. I wish my community would have had the patience and understanding we ask for from the world," Brian Ross wrote. "You should not have been terminated."
To which Robert Griffin replied: "You just said exactly the words I was trying to come up with. The fact that we ask for patience and understanding and acceptance and we can't give it to those who need it!"
Others noted in comments that stopping the national anthem once it starts isn't typically done as it's disrespectful.
“Our goal was not to tear down and hurt anyone,” Lehman told San Diego’s XEPRS-AM. “Our goal was to make something positive and build something up.”
(H/T: New York Daily News)