Musician Carlos Santana in Las Vegas on Nov. 8, 2013. Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post

Carlos Santana has apologized for a midconcert rant in which he suggested that trans people “ain’t right” and should stay in the closet.

“I sincerely apologize to the transgender community and everyone I offended. I realize that what I said hurt people and that was not my intent,” the Grammy-winning musician said in a statement released Thursday, hours after national news outlets discovered a cellphone video of his speech, which he appears to have made several weeks earlier at a casino concert in Atlantic City.

“When God made you and me before we came out of the womb, you know who you are and what you are,” Santana, 76, said at the late July show. “Later on, when you grow out of it, you see things and you start believing that you could be something that – it sounds good but you know it ain’t right because a woman is a woman and a man is a man. Whatever you want to do in the closet, that’s your business, I’m okay with that.”

As people in the audience cheered, Santana invoked comedian Dave Chappelle, who has compared being transgender to wearing blackface. He called Chappelle “my brother.”

Santana rarely wades into contentious cultural issues, tending to espouse messages of spirituality and benevolent magic onstage. It’s unclear what inspired his speech during his two-night stop in Atlantic City, where a music critic for quoted Santana telling the crowd at another point: “We want you to feel precious and priceless because you are significant. … It’s important to validate and celebrate you.”

A concertgoer published a video of the musician’s remarks on Reddit on July 29, soon after the show. “One song in … Carlos Santana stopped and spent a solid 15 minutes spouting the most insane anti-trans bs I’ve maybe ever heard,” the poster wrote.


The video attracted little attention until national news sites picked up on it Thursday – coincidentally the same day Santana started promoting tickets for an upcoming documentary about him that hits theaters next month.

A legendary guitarist who performed at Woodstock in 1969 and won his 10th Grammy in 2002 for “The Game of Love” with Michelle Branch, Santana has resumed touring this year after he passed out onstage and canceled several shows in 2022.

In his apology statement Thursday, Santana promised to “honor and respect all person’s ideals and beliefs whether they are LGBTQ or not.”

“It takes courage to grow and glow in the light that you are and to be true, genuine, and authentic,” he added. “We grow and learn to shine our light with Love and compliments. Have a glorious existence. Peace.”

But the apology was no longer publicly viewable on Santana’s Facebook account by Friday morning. He could not be reached for comment.

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