After a BuzzFeed article in which the news outlet confronted newly-appointed Gay Times editor Josh Rivers with years-old tweets containing racist, misogynist and homophobic messages, the UK LGBTQ newspaper has suspended Rivers, according to a tweet issued earlier today.
— Gay Times (@GayTimesMag) November 15, 2017
Rivers issued several anti-Semitic tweets, including one about a “large honker of a nose” and another praising a Family Guy quote saying that Judaism is “the only religion with ‘ew’ in it.” In a third tweet, he asked for film recommendations, except for films about the Holocaust.
Rivers also had several tweets targeting Asian people. “The creepiest gay men are short, old Asian men with long nails,” one tweet read. In another tweet, he wondered whether “Long day” in a Chinese accent would be “Wrong way.”
In other tweets, he insinuated he might be killed if he went to Africa and made jokes about Egyptian men raping women, calling them “fat, smelly, hairy, cunt-face, backwards rapists.”
Aside from race, he also had several tweets about gender. He called women “fucking cunting whiney cunts,” and hoped that a lesbian next door to him had her hand cut off while using a power tool. He also tweeted slurs about transgender people. In a tweet he wrote, “Look here, tranny. 1) you look like a crackhead 2) YOU’RE A TRANNY & 3) your wig doesn’t deserve a mention. Avert your eyes, honey.”
His tweets also included negative tweets about people of size and people without homes.
According to BuzzFeed, when the outlet confronted Rivers with his tweets, many of which were several years old, he was “stunned.”
“Oh my,” he said. “That’s on my Twitter?” The outlet said he replied with “uniform astonishment” as he began to see more and more of his previous tweets.
“This is really hard to hear,” he told BuzzFeed. “I’m kind of stunned I think it shows an immaturity, a certain amount of self-loathing. I think it shows that before recently I hadn’t been aware of the effects that social media and using platforms in such a nasty and pernicious way had.”
He added that the list of tweets, “shows I have grown.” He also said the tweets are “perhaps reflective of a lack of awareness.”
Rivers added that he had begun reading reading femimist texts and that, “Until recently, I chose to be blind to the world.” He also said he was a “product of my environment like many of us are.”
He added, “I think those tweets show that I was a really unhappy person who lashed out at the world around him.” He said that he has spoken about these issues in therapy.
In a statement sent after the interview, Rivers wrote: “My tweets from a number of years ago show a great deal of self-loathing, a complete unawareness of the world around me and a disregard for others that I find deeply upsetting. To every single person these tweets will offend and disappoint: I am sorry. My role as editor of Gay Times today is to squash prejudice and represent our community in all its glorious and varied diversity. It is through my own development and desire to be a force for good in the world that I can apply my own learnings to help create a space for all of us to thrive within.”
After he released his statement, British gay YouTube personality Calum McSwiggan came to Rivers’ defense.
“People say misguided things on Twitter all the time,” he wrote on Twitter. “You’ve grown, and changed, and matured, you’re doing wonderful work now and I’m sure that the community will forgive you. Stay positive and don’t let this deter you from your goals.”
People say misguided things on Twitter all the time. You’ve grown, and changed, and matured, you’re doing wonderful work now and I’m sure that the community will forgive you. Stay positive and don’t let this deter you from your goals x
— Calum McSwiggan (@CalumMcSwiggan) November 15, 2017
Rivers, who is mixed race, being appointed to head Gay Times and then subsequently suspended is particularly relevant given the years-long conversation about racism in the gay media, summed up in the phrase #GayMediaSoWhite. After the hashtag caused a firestorm on Twitter, a survey by Fusion (now Splinter) found that straight white cisgender men made the cover of LGBTQ magazines more than queer men of color.