Nicholas Sparks apologises for offending LGBT community with ‘anti-gay’ emails
Best-selling romance author Nicholas Sparks has issued an apology for personal emails he sent in 2013, which expressed hostility towards “an agenda that strives to make homosexuality open and accepted.”
The emails published on June 13 by The Daily Beast relate to a Christian prep school Sparks co-founded in North Carolina called the Epiphany School of Global Studies.
In the emails, perceived by many as ‘anti-gay’, The Notebook author strongly opposed a school LGBT+ club founded by students. He also criticised the headmaster for showing “misplaced priorities at the school level (GLBT, diversity, the beauty of other religions, as opposed to academic/curricular/global issues, Christian traditions, etc).”
Former headmaster Saul Benjamin said Sparks’ comments are indicative of a pattern of harassment, racism, and homophobia from the author, with whom he is now embroiled in a five-year lawsuit over the matter.
“It’s never been my intent to be unresponsive to the needs of the LGBTQ or any minority community.”
— Nicholas Sparks
Sparks denied all claims made by The Daily Beast and called them “false accusations,” but has now issued an apology for his choice of wording in the emails, recognising they may “potentially have hurt young people and members of the LGBTQ community.”
In a statement released on Twitter on Monday (June 17), Sparks wrote: “When in one of my emails I used language such as ‘there will never be an LGBT club’ at Epiphany, l was responding heatedly to how the headmaster had gone about initiating this club.”
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In response to his comments that gay students were “handled quietly” by a prior headmaster, and that the current headmaster was expected “to do the same,” Sparks said: “I meant that he supported them in a straightforward, unambiguous way – NOT that he in any way encouraged students to be silent about their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
He added: “It’s never been my intent to be unresponsive to the needs of the LGBTQ or any minority community. In fact the opposite is true, and I trust my actions moving forward will confirm that.”
— Nicholas Sparks (@NicholasSparks) June 17, 2019
In contrast with Sparks’ message of tolerance, Benjamin alleges that before being forced to resign, he was accused by school board members of “promoting a homosexual culture and agenda,” and that two bisexual teachers were threatened with termination if they continued to discuss the LGBT+ club or provide private support to students.
Benjamin’s lawyers responded to Sparks’ apology in a statement seen by PinkNews. It reads: “The emails continue to speak for themselves and demonstrate Nicholas Sparks’s unmistakable lack of support for an LGBT club or the students affected by anti-LGBTQ+ bullying at the school.
“This new and belated statement by Mr. Sparks will be subject to cross-examination at trial, where it will be contrasted with other statements he has made on the subject of LGBTQ+ inclusion. We are confident that a jury will find Mr. Sparks and the other Defendants liable for their unlawful actions in August.”