With the birth of Twitter and the death of discretion, an increasing number of public figures are candid about their anti-gay sentiments, and are paying for it.
Social media and consumer-driven content means that anything said online gets heard around the world in a matter of mouse clicks.
When homophobic and transphobic remarks are made, and apologies ensue, is it a genuine about-face or a lame attempt at lip service?
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology released a study this month offering evidence that the suppression of same-sex urges can, over time, manifest into homophobia. Compelling research, indeed, but surely not every homophobic person is trying to conceal a yearning for the same-sex.
Religious leaders, popular politicians and sports celebrities are but a few of the people included in GSN’s ‘Sinners, Repented?’ countdown of most insulting anti-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender remarks.
The resulting apologies range from sincere regret to playing the blame game… It’s not who they are… It won’t happen again…
So in the end, do we forgive them, Father, for they know exactly what they do? You be the judge.
Pastor Sean Harris
Just this week the North Carolina pastor told parents during a congregation to crack their sons’ wrists if they go limp, punch them and tell them to man up, and to reign their daughters in if they start acting butch. Are you angry yet? Click here to listen to the full audio. The following day, Harris released a retraction of his comments. He was sure to point out, however, that he apologized for promoting child abuse, not ‘for the manner in which the Word of God articulates sexual immortality, including homosexuality and effeminacy, as a behavior that is an abomination to God’.
DJ Dominic Dieter
And only last week Cleveland radio personality Dominic Dieter listened live and on-the-air to a father saw his daughter kiss another teenage girl. The DJ’s response: ‘You should get one of your friends to screw your daughter straight’. He quickly apologized, saying he understands why people are angry. ‘I want to make it clear; there was absolutely no intention to promote physical or sexual violence. And I’m truly, truly sorry by my poor choice of words that led people to believe otherwise… I ask people to find it in their hearts to forgive me.’
Fox News commentator Monica Crowley
On 26 April this year, the Fox News contributor tweeted ‘To a man? "Sandra Fluke Announces Engagement"’. Sandra Fluke had recently come into the national spotlight as an outspoken birth control advocate. Radio personality Rush Limbaugh previously called her a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’ for her views. When an immediate public outcry ensured, Crowley’s response via Twitter read: ‘I love exposing the Left’s total lack of a sense of humor’. The next day Crowley apologized saying: ‘I certainly and unequivocally apologize to Sandra and anyone else I offended. Not my intention’.
US soccer player Colin Clark
The Houston Dynamo midfielder called a ball boy ‘faggot’ during a game when he apparently didn’t receive a new ball as quickly as he wanted. On 27 March Clark took to twitter to apologize, saying: ‘I’d like to offer a sincere apology to everyone who watched the game, especially the ball boy for whom I used awful language towards. [sic] I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone and am sorry for letting my emotions get the best of me. It’s not who I am and it won’t happen again.’
NBA’s Mark Cuban
The owner of the basketball team the Dallas Mavericks told a male reporter interviewing him that the reporter was such a big fan of the Kiss Cam ‘because you and your boyfriend are always on it’. The reporter is straight, and the comment did not go over well. Cuba later apologized on his blog. ‘I guess what I’m doing is admitting that at some level I am prejudiced and that I recognize that I am,’ explained Cuban. ‘There are a lot of things in my life that I need to improve at.’ [sic] These include homophobia and ending sentences with an unnecessary preposition.
Bishop Tavern and Lounge
A bouncer in this Florida-based bar told Alex Borrego, a transgender woman, she could not enjoy the free drinks at the bar’s ladies’ night because she’s ‘a dude’. Borrego showed her license to prove she is legally a woman, but the bouncer still protested. After Borrego went to the Tampa Bay Times to report the incident, the bar’s owner posted a formal apology on the bar’s Facebook page. He said: ‘This event has given us the opportunity to better educate our staffe to ensure everyone has a pleasant experience regardless of who you are.’
Tom Cruise’s son
Connor Cruise, the son of American actor Tom Cruise, gave a heated response to his publicist when teased about his favorite football team losing. Publicist Todd Krim tweeted Cruise ‘maybe next year’ after Cruise’s team lost. Cruise’s texted back: ‘That was a gay ass fucking tweet… u don’t say shit like that about my team the second they lose. Low.’ The adopted son of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise released a statement saying: ‘What I texted was unacceptable. It is not a reflection of who I am and what I feel, and it certainly won’t happen again.’
New Jersey governor Chris Christie
As the state of New Jersey debated a marriage quality bill, the state’s governor said: ‘I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South’. After being criticized for his insensitive remark about two civil rights movements, Christie apologized for offending voters and for not being direct in his communication.
UK chat show host Jonathan Ross
In the first few minutes of his 21 January show, Ross said Thai airline PC Air was ‘going to recruit more lady boys to be air stewards’. The airline had announced a decision to hire transgender flight crew. The comedian continued with transgender jokes. ‘What a great way to spend the flight though because you wouldn’t need puzzles or a movie. You’d just be, “Is she? Is he? Is she?" And when you want to find out the answer you just press the buzzer and go, “Excuse me, do you have any nuts?”’ Yet another Twitter response after angry transgender viewers protested: ‘I was insensitive and I was wrong,’ posted Ross. ‘As ever am working toward being a better person’.
UK football player Lee Steele
The 38-year-old tweeted a homophobic comment about out gay Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas. After the rugby player appearanced on the television reality show Celebrity Big Brother, Steele tweeted: ‘I wouldn’t fancy the bed next to Gareth Thomas #padlockedarsehole.’ Steele was sacked for his comment, and apologized later through an official statement through his new club: ‘The remarks were made tongue in cheek at the time and Lee would like to apologise for this an any offense that this has caused and would like to stress that he is not homophobic in any way.’
Cardinal Francis George
On Christmas Day 2011, the Chicago religious leader compared the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan, the American white supremacy group. The cardinal said that the gays wanted to ‘stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church’ because the Chicago Gay Pride parade route would pass by one of the city’s oldest Roman Catholic Churches. Two weeks later, he apologized saying he feared for the church’s liberty. He admitted: ‘sometimes fear is a bad motivation’.
Dr. Robert Spitzer
In 1973, Spitzer spearheaded the decision to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association. Yet in 2001 the American psychiatrist released a controversial paper Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation?, arguing that ‘highly motivated individuals’ had the capacity to change from gay to straight. In 2012, Spitzer attempted to retract the study, apologizing to the gay community for ‘making unproven claims’.
Evangelical leader Ted Haggard
In 2006, a former male prostitute Mike Jones came forward accusing the founder of evangelical mega-church New Life Church of paying him over three years and using methamphetamine in his presence. Haggard denied having sex with Jones, confessing he only received a massage but did buy methamphetamine. Haggard said he threw away the meth instead of using it. After being fired from the church, Haggard submitted an apology to his congregation through a letter. ‘I am so sorry. I am sorry for the disappointment, the betrayal, and the hurt. I am sorry for the horrible example I have set for you. The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it all of my adult life.’ In the end of the letter, he asked for members of the congregation to stay faithful to God and for them to forgive him.
In 2009, Haggard was accused of masturbating in front of 20-year-old male volunteer Grant Haas in 2006. Haas said in an interview with CNN: ‘(Haggard) used to say to me, "You know what, Grant, you can become a man of God, and you have have a little bit of fun on the side"’.
Minister John J Smid
In 2008, American Smid resigned as the director of Love in Action, ‘the ministry that exists to restore those trapped in sexual and relational sin through the power of Jesus Christ’. In 2010, he publicly apologized for the damage he may have caused to those under his ‘leadership’ at Love in Action. He confessed to never meeting a man who could convert from gay to straight, including himself. He professed intentions of staying married to his wife.
Evangelist leader Anthony Venn-Brown
The former Australian evangelist started a new youth network for The Assemblies of God Christian group in the early 1980s. In 1991, Venn-Brown came out as a gay man and published a book about reconciling his homosexual desires with his religious beliefs. In 2007 he helped a group of ex-gay leaders publicly apologize for their actions in promoting conversion therapy.