Entertainment & Arts

Gay Times editor Rivers 'appalled' by his own comments

Josh Rivers Image copyright Gay Times
Image caption Josh Rivers became Gay Times Editor last month

Josh Rivers, sacked from his new role as editor at the Gay Times over offensive tweets published in the past, has said he is "appalled" by his posts.

The tweets, some of which have now been deleted, have been described as racist, transphobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

Mr Rivers, who has already apologised, also made remarks about obese people and children with disabilities.

He told Radio 4's PM programme: "I was appalled... I said, 'Who wrote that?'"

"I was stunned, I was confused. I spent most of my 20s in a daze, in a blur. I was not sober as much as I probably could have been.

The 31-year-old added: "I was lost, I was angry. I was upset, I was lonely. And I think those tweets are a reflection of someone lashing out at the world around him.

"They were cries for help."

Mr Rivers said: "My past is mine to reckon with... I have to look in the mirror (every day), I have to get myself to a place where I'm fit to serve the community."

He said he had "no recollection" of writing the tweets, saying he had drunk heavily in his 20s.

Mr Rivers added that he had been seeing a therapist since 2014 "to unpick the loneliness and sense of abandonment... I've taken who I was and I've turned it into who I want to be".

The Gay Times magazine wrote on Twitter that it had removed all articles written by Mr Rivers from its website.

'Inappropriate and unacceptable'

Gay Times said: "Gay Times do not tolerate such views and will continue to strive to promote inclusivity.

"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."

The publication added it is relaunching on 30 November with "what is quite possibly the most significant overhaul in its 33-year history".

It will feature submissions and significant contributions from "the far reaches of our wonderful and diverse LGBTQ community".

Gay Times has been praised by its readers for making the decision to end Rivers' position at the magazine and have been responding to their statement on Twitter.

Craig Evry wrote, "Well done on taking swift, decisive action. A well thought-out and sincere statement."

Alan Palmer added, "Strong, positive reaction. Too often, organisations try to ride out the storm and do nothing so as not to risk themselves. Well done."

Holly Amory also tweeted, saying, "Thank you! It bodes well that you're taking this so seriously."

Rivers was appointed editor in October. In a statement released before his removal from the post, he said: "I have long taken steps to address the issues that prevented me from treating people with the respect and kindness I value so dearly now.

"It is because of my past and my own awakening that I've since pivoted everything in my life towards supporting and empowering our community."

He expressed sadness that "the damage I caused before has now resurfaced to cause more pain".

Benjamin Cohen, chief executive of LGBT news organisation PinkNews, told the BBC: "I am frankly appalled at the litany of offensive Twitter posts that Josh Rivers made over a number of years.

"It is beyond surprising that the level of inappropriate and hurtful comments were not uncovered by Gay Times during the recruitment process for the appointment of the key role of editor.

"As someone who for many years wrote a column for Gay Times, I'm saddened that what was a great institution has had its brand so recklessly damaged by someone who was in office for just a few weeks."

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