This week, GQ has found itself in a shitstorm of virtual controversy after using Twitter to disseminate a lame joke about Adam Lambert, the openly gay pop singer, not having enough testosterone.
On Monday, GQ linked to their profile of Adam Lambert by tweeting out:
Rules of Street Fashion: If you have testosterone problems, a mustache doesn't always help @AdamLambert
Almost immediately, other media sources, including LGBT blogs and The Huffington Post, jumped on GQ, and GLAAD quickly corrected GQ by tweeting back at the publication. In a press release, GLAAD wrote:
This kind of humor isn't just bad taste and bad business, it's dangerous. While one can assume that the editors of GQ understand that to be gay isn't a deficiency of anything, unfortunately, many in America aren't in the same privileged position. We live in a country where millions of dollars is spent annually by parents and others trying to change gay youth to straight. This incredibly damaging practice is in part perpetuated by myths such as the one espoused in GQ's joke about Adam Lambert. Jokes like this have no place in respectable media.
GQ has since half-apologized (with a kind of flippant, sorry-you-think-we're-homophobic message that reads, "Re: our Lambert tweet, we were thoughtless and apologize. We shouldn't make stupid jokes about people's testosterone. As always, we learn").
GQ here is saying that it has learned from the experience of tweeting out an inaccurate, homophobic statement. However, their almost-apology has me asking a different question: How have they not yet learned?
Celebrities, publications, and business on Twitter need to be more accountable than ever for what they say on their social media platforms. Thousands of people are watching and reading, and when there's a "reply" button or a "retweet" button right at the tips of fans' fingers, they have the power to hold you responsible for what you say.
It's not like it's anything new for a homophobic tweet to come under national fire. Remember when "Fuck You" singer Cee-Loo Green tweeted in June, "I respect your criticism, but be fair! People enjoyed last night! I'm guessing you're gay? And my masculinity offended you? Well f*** you!" Or when Larry Johnson of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs got suspended for calling someone a fag? Or, even more venomously, when Brown Coffee Company opposed celebrations of the passage of marriage equality in New York with their tweet ( "No human law can ever legitimize what natural law precludes. #SorryFolks #NotEqual #WhyBother #ChasingAfterTheWind #SelfEvident.")?
In each case, Twitter users took huge issue with the homophobic tweets, and eventually, each of the users behind the Twitter handle apologized for their lack of judgement.
The ability to judge, think, and broadcast on Twitter is a powerful tool that's clearly still evolving. But GQ, especially after the corporation's embarrassing story that cast Dustin Lance Black and Gus Van Sant as gay predators for Taylor Lautner, should know better. Think before you tweet, and realize that fans, listeners, and consumers will make no qualms about holding you accountable.