If 2016 was the year of Twitter propelling people to high places – with Donald Trump’s 140 character-fuelled election win – then 2017 has been the year of Twitter unseating people in high places.
Historic homophobic and prejudiced tweets seem to have been emerging on a weekly basis in recent months – from Stormzy calling people “faggots” through to YouTube and I’m a Celeb star Jack Maynard being exposed for his teenage homophobia.
Even YouTuber Zoella, who could do no wrong (UNTIL NOW!), was found to have posted derogatory remarks about gay and trans people.
And let’s not forget the editor of Gay Times – well, ex-editor – who had posted dozens of homophobic, transphobic, ableist, classist and anti-Semitic tweets.
Here’s hoping fewer former homophobes emerge from obscurity in 2018.
Chart-topping hip-hop artist Stormzy apologised for a flood of homophobic tweets discovered by PinkNews back in November.
The British grime performer repeatedly accused people of being “a faggot”, “a fag”, or “gay” – including a child on TV who he called “a f***ing fag”. The tweets were written between 2011 and 2014.
The two-time MOBO Award winner responded, calling his past comments “foul and offensive”, and spoke directly to the LGBT+ community when he offered his “deepest apologies”.
In the tweets, Stormzy referred to people and things as “gay”, “so gay”, and “proper gay”, and in one he asked: “R u a fag??”
His tweets also stated that it was “proper gay” for men to dance, style their hair, show affection towards other men, not have sex before marriage or own a teddy bear.
In his lengthy apology, Stormzy wrote: “I said some foul and offensive things whilst tweeting years ago at a time when I was young and proudly ignorant.
“Very hurtful and discriminative views that I’ve unlearned as I’ve grown up and become a man.
“The comments I made were unacceptable and disgusting, full stop,” he added.
“Comments that I regret and to everyone I’ve offended, I am sorry, these are attitudes I’ve left in the past.
“The homophobic language I used was, embarrassingly, a part of my vocabulary when I was younger and ignorance made me feel comfortable to use them whilst not understanding the hate and the ramifications they carry.
Stormzy, who hit headlines for his vocal support of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, continued: “That isn’t an excuse, I take responsibility for my mistakes and hope you can understand that my younger self doesn’t reflect who I am today.
“Again, I’m sorry to everyone I’ve offended. To the LGBQT community and my supporters and friends, my deepest apologies”.
Jared O’Mara MP
Labour suspended Jared O’Mara MP in October after he allegedly referred to gay people as “fudge packers” and “poofters”, also alluding to anal sex as “driving up the Marmite motorway”.
O’Mara became the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam earlier this year, when he unseated former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who championed equal marriage.
In this instance, the homophobic comments were made on a fan site for Smiths singer Morrissey, rather than on Twitter.
In an argument with several other users of the message board, a user known as ‘gingerjared’ derided gay people as “fudge packers” and “poofters”.
One comment read: “I find it funny how some homosexuals think they have the monopoly on being subject to abuse,they should try being Ginger( a red head for any charmingly naive cross-pond residents) AND Disabled!”
He added: “Christ, you poofters think you’ve got it bad, My heart bleeds purple wee wee for you, it really does!”
In an argument about whether Morrissey is gay, O’Mara wrote: “Just cos he writes about gayness and gay issues, doesn’t mean he drives up the Marmite motorway, or, for that matter, allows someone to drive up his.
“And just because I use euphamisms for anal love that can be interpreted as being derogotory by the self -righteous and the PC brigade DOES NOT mean I’m homophobic.”
After the messages surfaced, Shadow chancellor John McDonnell announced the newly-elected parliamentarian had been suspended from Labour.
He told BBC News: “There will be a full investigation by the Labour Party and then, as a result of that, a final decision will be made about his future.”
A Labour spokesperson told PinkNews: “The Party is investigating Jared O’Mara MP in relation to comments and behaviour which have been reported from earlier this year.”
O’Mara apologised for the homophobic comments, writing in a statement: “I am deeply ashamed of the comments i made online, which have emerged today.
“I was wrong to make them; I understand why they are offensive and sincerely apologise for my use of such unacceptable language.”
Speaking to Huck Magazine – in an interview which PinkNews was referred to by his office – O’Mara said he did not plan to resign.
“In terms of resigning as an MP? I think there’s a place for me… I want to educate people and help people going through those prejudices grow out of them,” he said.
YouTuber Zoella was also caught out this year for mocking gay and transgender people on Twitter.
The 27-year-old, who has more than 12 million subscribers, tweeted in 2010, when she was 20: “I find it funny when gay men spit… it’s like they’re trying to be a bit macho but never works”.
And in 2011, writing to beauty YouTuber Tanya Burr, Zoella said: “Are they honestly letting a tranny in a policeman hat speak to them like that? How odd! Haha x”.
Zoella apologised for the tweets, saying: “I’m sorry if I have offended anyone”.
She wrote: “I’ve seen a few of my old tweets from 7/8 years ago floating around (which I have now deleted) using words like “chav” “skank” and other words I wouldn’t use now as part of my language and lot of them were taken out of context referring to TV shows but I would never say those things now and I’m sorry if I have offended anyone, that was not my intention.
“Obviously that is not who I am today and I’d like to think I’m a little older and wiser! I’m not perfect and I’ve never claimed to be, I’m only human!”
Jack Maynard – yep, another YouTuber – used the N-word as well as homophobic slurs in a series of social media posts this year.
The posts date from the era of 2012-13, when Maynard was 17-18.
When an abusive commenter suggested he had profited from his brother’s (singer Conor Maynard) fame, Jack hit back: “Completely forgot you know how I got it YOU RETARDED FAGGOT”.
In another post he hit back “hahaha shutup you faggot… By the way who hit you with a shovel?”
Maynard, who also posted tweets using the N-word, was removed from ITV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! after just 72 hours in the jungle.
An ITV spokesperson said: “Jack has issued a full apology and has deleted the tweets that he sent.”
A spokesperson for the vlogger told The Sun: “Jack is ashamed of what he said in these tweets, many of which were deleted a long time ago and were sent in response to a neighbour who was bullying him.
“Jack was a lot younger when he posted them in 2012 but realises that age is no defence.
“He would never use that language now and realises that, as someone who was bullied himself, this kind of retaliatory, inflammatory, insulting language is completely unacceptable.”
Maynard later posted a video in which he addressed the allegations and apologised: “I’m sure most of you have seen that a lot has been written in the press over the last few days. I’m so sorry to anyone that I offended, anyone I upset, anyone I made feel uncomfortable.”
Gay Times editor Josh Rivers was sacked after just three weeks in the role when offensive comments were discovered on his Twitter account.
Rivers insulted transgender people, lesbians, women in general, Jews, Asians, Africans, the homeless, anyone he thought was “fat” or a “retard”, and old people.
In one particularly horrific tweet, Rivers wrote: “Look here, tranny. 1) you look like a crackhead 2) YOU’RE A TRANNY & 3) your wig doesn’t deserve a mention”.
Gay Times posted a statement on Twitter saying he had been sacked from the position with immediate effect.
The statement read: “After an investigation of the facts surrounding historical tweets by Josh Rivers, the newly appointed Editor of Gay Times magazine; we announce that his employment has been terminated with immediate effect.
“We sincerely apologise for the offence that has been caused, particularly to those members of our wider community to whom such inappropriate and unacceptable commentary was the focus.
“Gay Times does not tolerate such views and will continue to strive to honour and promote inclusivity.”
Gay Times Magazine suspended Rivers less than three hours after his posts came to light, saying that the tweets “do not align with the values of Gay Times, or any of our employees, in any capacity”.
Rivers had also tweeted derogatory comments about lesbians, where he wrote in one: “I hope that piece of machinery that asshole lesbian next door has been using since 8am cuts off her goddamn hand.”
He also voiced misogynist views in a tweet which read: “More F***ing c***ing whiney c***s. C***ing whiney f***ing c***s. Go change your f***ing tampon & stay the f*** out of my way.”
“Jews are gross. It’s the only religion with ‘ew’ in it,” he said in another post, which was followed weeks later with: “I wonder if they cast that guy as ‘The Jew’ because of that f***ing ridiculously large honker of a nose. It must be prosthetic. Must be.”
In an apology sent to BuzzFeed through his publicist after the interview, Rivers apologised.
“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,” it began.
“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.”
Amir Khan and Rebekah Vardy
More allegedly homophobic tweets from I’m a Celebrity stars surfaced recently, this time regarding boxer Amir Khan and Rebekah Vardy – the wife of Premier League-winning Leicester City striker Jamie.
The allegations followed the exit of Jack Maynard from the ITV reality show after his homophobic and racist tweets emerged.
In one tweet, Vardy wrote: “@MrHarryWood @xelahopkins1984 @Little_Miss_Fox what about the 3rd ‘bird’ the gay walker?” @Jay_Walker25 ginger gay w***** ha ha PMSL”.
However, Jay Walker – the last Twitter handle included in the tweet – defended Vardy, saying: “I hate to disappoint people but this tweet was to me & we were all just repeating names a guy had called us.
“Nothing homophobic about it & actually mocking someone who had been,” he continued. “Rebekah is the least homophonic or malicious person I know so afraid your all very much mistaken ! Good luck Mrs Vardy”.
But another tweet was discovered in which Vardy had written: “Whatsap…….GAY…..sort it out grrrrrr”.
It was also revealed by another Twitter user that Khan had called people “gay” on the .
One from 2011 read: “Hahah @saj23x ur profile pic looks proper gay.
“Nothing against them. Sort it out lad. No wonder pple think u like boys haha”.
In another post from 2010, Khan wrote that another Twitter user was gay, warning that men should “abuse” him.
“Abuse @saj23x for keeping pictures on his phone, he is defiantly gay after today’s tweet,” he said. Asll the guys beware, @saj23x is GAY.”