A prominent British LGBT news and entertainment website has sparked outrage after posting a racist meme of Nicki Minaj to its Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Gay Star News published the picture on Thursday afternoon; it featured a series of celebrities – including Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Christina Aguilera – under the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday. For each of these, along with Rihanna, Adele, and Demi Lovato, a picture of the star as a child was used under each name.
But in the case of Nicki Minaj, a baby chimpanzee was pictured under her name. For Madonna, what appears to be a cave painting was used – a reference to her age that readers deemed misogynistic.
The posting of this meme by such a high profile news outlet has attracted widespread condemnation on social media, with many accusing Gay Star News of racism.
The criticism prompted Gay Star News, whose editor Tris Reid-Smith was formerly the editor of Gay Times, Britain's longest-running LGBT publication, to swiftly apologise and remove the post.
"We apologize an offensive meme was posted on our Twitter feed," Reid-Smith said. "We didn't look closely at all the images in it and it won't happen again."
This did little to quell the offence caused. One Twitter user, Albert E Wallace, sent the site a series of tweets to comment on what had happened. "To any & every person behind @gaystarnews: Realize your privilege, realize your impact, realize the shit you've internalized. Do better."
He follow it with: "And then, when you think you can do better, @gaystarnews? Come back, share what you've learned with the class, and MAYBE we'll listen."
The storm follows a wave of criticism against LGBT media, in particular magazines and websites such as Out and The Advocate, for ignoring black and minority ethnic people, prompted in part by rapper Mykki Blanco calling out LGBT titles for their whitewashing of the community. This spurned the hashtag #GayMediaSoWhite.
Reid-Smith told BuzzFeed News: "We are gutted. It was a moment's mistake because someone didn't look. This is something we shared and totally failed to look at properly. It is totally vile. The person who made the mistake is mortified as am I. It was up for just a few minutes and then deleted as soon as he saw."
He added: "We instantly and unreservedly apologised on Twitter and I would like to repeat that we are desperately sorry. This was purely because we didn't spot it. This has never happened before and will not happen again. We will not only say sorry but will work to make amends. We are strongly anti-racism and this really matters to us."