MLK Speaker Roland Martin addresses temporary suspension from CNN in 2012 for tweets interpreted as homophobic

Four-time NAACP winner Roland Martin tweeted a gay-bashing comment during the 2012 super bowl. Martin, who will speak at the MLK ceremony on Jan. 30, was suspended from CNN after the incident. 

Shiann Sivell

Four-time NAACP Image award winner and MLK guest speaker Roland Martin addressed his temporary suspension from CNN after sending tweets interpreted as homophobic during the February 2012 Super Bowl.

The Washington Post reported in 2012 that Martin tweeted seemingly homophobic comments in response to a H&M underwear commercial that featured soccer player David Beckham in underwear.

In another tweet on the same night, Martin commented on a New England Patriots fan wearing pink.

“Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass,” Martin tweeted.

Martin later stated that the tweets were jabs at the sports rather than the LGBTQ community.

However, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said the tweets encourage violence towards gay people. The organization also mentioned that this was not Martin’s first instance of insulting the LGBTQ community. Martin reportedly defended actor Tracy Morgan when he said during a comedy show that if his son were gay he “would pull out a knife and stab” him.

While Morgan apologized for his comments, Martin defended himself by saying they were within the context of a stand-up routine.

“Go listen to some of your favorite comedians and tell me if they said racist, sexist, homophobic stuff about any group,” Martin wrote on his blog according to an article by Reuters. “Go ahead and update/tweet it. I think many of you would be shocked and amazed that you laughed hysterically at some of the most sexist, homophobic, racist stuff.”

CNN responded to the tweets and GLAAD demand for action just before suspending Martin.

“Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive,” CNN said in their offical statement. “Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”

Martin later issued an apology for the tweets.

“As someone who has spoken out forcefully against bigotry against African Americans and other minorities, as well as sexism against women, I fully understand how a group who has been unfairly treated would be offended by such comments, and again, I am sorry for any offense my remarks caused,” Martin said.

Marin’s suspension was lifted in March 2012.

Martin afterward

The George-Anne asked Martin on Monday if he has tried to reestablish a relationship with the LGBTQ community since the incident. Martin said he spoke to GLAAD and continued with his work.

“It wasn’t a question of reestablishing anything,” Martin said. “I was clear in terms of what I was talking about which had nothing to do with anyone being gay or lesbian. They had a different interpretation. We [GLAAD] met and had a conversation and left it at that. I’ve done the work I’ve done before that and after that.”

Martin addressed the issue of African Americans in the LGBT+ community in 2013 during a segment of his show “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” and spoke on how the media woefully under-reports issues with the black LGBTQ community.

Gay-Straight Alliance comments

Gay-Straight Alliance president Ashley Strickland gave an official statement on behalf of the organization via email:

“Mr. Roland has released apologies for his statements, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that homophobia is still very alive in our country. We also acknowledge that racism is very alive in our country and are always in support of MLK Day Festivities. We stand up to injustices against the black community and hope that people will stand up against injustices to the LGBTQ+ community as well.”

Strickland also included a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Strickland said Martin’s past tweets were not brought to GSA by the Office of Multicultural Affairs prior to Martin being selected for GS’ 2019 MLK guest speaker.

“This incident was not brought to us by OMA,” Strickland said in an email. “GSA has a good relationship with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and puts on many events together throughout the year.”

The Office of Multicultural Affairs was reached for comment about Martin’s past tweets but have not replied.

Martin is scheduled to appear at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center on the Statesboro Campus on Wednesday.

For more on what Martin will speak about read here. 

Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Student Enterprise Reporter, [email protected]