Exclusive: UK Black Pride defends decision to recruit disgraced ex-Gay Times editor Josh Rivers
UK Black Pride has defended its decision to take on former Gay Times editor Josh Rivers, who was fired after dozens of offensive tweets came to light.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, the co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride, defended the choice, saying that Rivers had “apologised unreservedly” for the posts.
Rivers’ involvement became clear when he was included in a tweet about the organisation’s planning meeting.
“Brilliant UK Black Pride Team Meeting, we have been busy planning for an absolutely inclusive, political community led, empowering, liberating Black Pride which is for our many communities,” read the posts.
Rivers was sacked from GT in November after it emerged that he had posted offensive slurs about Asians, Africans, transgender people, lesbians, women in general, Jews, the homeless, anyone he thought was “fat” or a “retard,” and old people.
UK Black Pride describes itself on Facebook as “Britain’s community led organisation for African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean heritage LGBT people.”
One of the dozens of tweets which Rivers sent in 2010 and 2011, when he was in his mid-20s, was anti-Asian.
“The creepiest gay men are short, old asian men with long nails,” he wrote. “Fact.”
In another, he wrote: “Long day. How would I type that with a Chinese accent?
According to BuzzFeed, he also said that there were two Chinese people sat next to him at the 2012 Olympics who were “sneaky f***s”.
This, he explained, was because he didn’t see that they were there while he “screamed ‘we just s**t all over china’.”
He also targeted African people.
In quick succession, he first posted: “So the Egyptian men celebrate by raping women? Cool. Freedom rings for fat, smelly, hairy, c***-face, backwards rapists. YAY!”
Then, minutes later, he wrote: “SO exhausted! Raping in celebration of our freedom! HAAALLAAALALALAALAAA ALLAAAH!!” – tweet from an Egyptian guy.
Months before that, he tweeted: “Waitress from next door just got back from Africa & told me I should go soon.
“Do I look like I’m trying to get killed? Jog on, honey.”
Rivers also resigned from his position as co-chair at Series Q, a community group built to help LGBT entrepreneurs, after he was fired from GT.
He lasted just three weeks in the role as editor.
Rivers apologised after the tweets surfaced, saying: “To every single person these tweets will offend and disappoint: I am sorry.”
He called the posts “horrible,” “abhorrent,” “ugly” and “so hateful”.
Less than two months later, he hit out at “racialised” criticism of his tweets.
“White feedback has been: ‘Ha ha! Ha! Ah ha!” he said during a YouTube interview.
“And it’s so – it’s actually that cut-and-dry. Black and white, as it were!”
Later in the interview, he said: “I think this situation was designed to silence me, and to knock me off my path, but it hasn’t worked.”
Sources close to the affair have expressed confusion and anger at the involvement of Rivers in UK Black Pride.
A former colleague of Rivers told PinkNews that it was “an odd decision”.
But Opoku-Gyimah, who is also known as Lady Phyll, said: “After remarks he made a number of years ago were brought to light, Josh apologised unreservedly.
“UK Black Pride accepts this and we have drawn a line under the matter.
“We believe everyone has a right to the growth and transformation our community has survived and thrived on,” she continued.
“We welcome Josh to our team of dedicated volunteers, each of whom has been recruited from within our community.
“I look forward to each of them using their creative talents and life lessons for the advancement of the Black LGBTQ community and to help us build a strong and successful festival that combats the rampant racism, homo/bi/transphobia, and sexism which so blights our community and receives such little attention.
“We will be announcing a number of other great additions to UK Black Pride in the coming days.
“I hope your interest in the future of UK Black Pride continues,” Lady Phyll added, “and that we can count on PinkNews’ support to amplify the fight against the inequalities Black LGBTQ people face every day.”
The comment ended: “UK Black Pride promotes unity and co-operation among all Black people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent, as well as their friends and families, who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender.”