Billionaire businessman Alan Sugar has been accused of homophobia after tweeting that he has had “enough puffs.”
The Apprentice host responded to a post including a photoshopped image of his face on a box of Sugar Puffs cereal by quote-tweeting it and adding: “hah…… I have enough puffs who come through my boardroom.”
The tweet, sent on Monday (December 24), caused many to make their outrage clear in comments to the former Tottenham Hotspur chairman, who also faced homophobia accusations in 2014, when he replied to an insult on Twitter from someone with a profile picture of two men by tweeting back: “Your twitter pic. When are you 2 coming out?”
Sugar defended himself in the face of criticism, tweeting that his post was “a bloody joke.”
He added: “A lady posted a funny picture of me on a Sugar Puffs cereal packet. I replied Hah.. I have enough puffs coming through my board room. Meaning PEOPLE FULL OF HOT AIR.”
Alan Sugar faces homophobia claims
Many tweeters thought Sugar—whose show faced criticism this year from the season’s only openly queer contestant, Frank Brooks, after he was called “emotional” in the boardroom—used the word “puff” as a deliberate play on the term “poof,” which is a homophobic slur in Britain, among other countries.
Football writer Daniel Storey was one of several commenters who referred to Sugar’s tweet in June about Senegal‘s national football team, in which he compared the players to people who sell sunglasses and handbags on beaches. Sugar eventually apologised for the post.
“Using homophobic language isn’t acceptable”
“Remember that racist thing you tweeted about the Senegal football team?” asked Storey.
“And how you repeatedly said it wasn’t racist but then deleted it because it was racist and then apologised for being racist? Skip the middle part this time.”
“Homophobic Alan sugar to add to the racist Alan sugar,” wrote another tweeter, while a different user said: “That’s a bit homophobic Alan.”
One person told Sugar, who has hosted his BBC show for all of its 14 seasons, that “using homophobic language isn’t acceptable.
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“Same as antisemitic language. You can’t choose to be offended one day then offend the next.”
And another commenter wrote: “Slightly below the belt for someone if your stature, disappointing.”
Others were somewhat willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
One of these said: “I sure hope you don’t mean what I think you mean with this. Go to bed regardless, you nasty old pickled walnut.”
Another user suggested: “Maybe a task/episode for your next round of apprentices could be a project for a charity project for the LGBTQ community—y’know, just to (a) be decent and inclusive, and (b) show you’re not a ‘phobe, just a tone-deaf tweeter.”
Other tweeters rush to defend Alan Sugar
Many commenters anticipated outrage over the tweet.
Some of these sought to excuse Sugar by explaining the term “puff” was not related to any homophobic slurs.
Instead, they pointed out that puff is defined as “a short, explosive burst of breath or wind,” which is the exact wording of the first result for the term on Google.
In response to one of these users who warned: “Here comes the offended squad,” another commenter wrote: “So you can identify that it was an offensive thing to say, then? You’re halfway there, at least.”