Randy Rainbow has apologized after Twitter users uncovered multiple tweets containing racist and transphobic jokes dating back to 2010.
The comedian and two-time Emmy nominee has gained notoriety for his musical parodies taking aim at Donald Trump and members of his family and administration.
However, he came under fire earlier this month for multiple tweets — which Rainbow has since deleted — using the transphobic slur “tranny,” as well as other tweets containing bigoted and racist language.
“That awkward moment when you yell ‘What up tranny?!’ to Leah Remini as she passes you on the street and it turns out to be an actual tranny,” he wrote in 2011.
A tweet from 2010 reads: “‘Nothin’ sadder than a tranny in sensible shoes.’ -Mark Twain.”
In 2010, he also tweeted, “Why is it OK to call it a ‘white noise’ machine, yet offensive to say that I bought it to drown out all the ‘black noise’ in my building?”
Other tweets portrayed Black people as violent and drug dealers, and joking about names, fried chicken, and even segregation.
Rainbow also targeted Latinx people, including calling Mexicans short, lazy, and criminals, made fun of Asian people, called lesbians masculine and humorless, and tweeted jokes making light of rape.
In an interview with The Advocate, Rainbow said the tweets were “completely offensive and insensitive” and made him feel “sick to my stomach.”
“Twitter has recently reminded me about 10 years ago, in my maiden quest to be funny, I tweeted some jokes that were completely offensive and insensitive to look back on them now, especially with no context or nuance and through the prism of where we are in 2020 with racial inequality and the fight for social justice, which I’m proudly a part of,” he said.
“In light of issues that are now at the forefront, which I’m passionate about and have spoken up about over the years, these tweets just sound racist and awful. I’m embarrassed by them. They make me sick to my stomach, in fact, and I deeply apologize to anyone I offended.”
Rainbow, 39, attributed the tweets to a “different” comedy landscape, in which he was “an aspiring comedian in my 20s working the stages in gay nightclubs where we said the most outlandish, raunchy things we could think of.”
He said he was trying to emulate the “shock comedy” style of Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman, and Howard Stern, who “had become iconic for being artfully inappropriate.”
“I was regurgitating what was accepted then as edgy, which in the light of today is totally unacceptable,” he said. “Any jokes that I tweeted out around this time were meant to be read in the voice of this character I created, and the intention was always that my forced ignorance would be the butt of the joke.”
Rainbow told The Advocate that he was “incredibly sorry” for the tweets and “would never intentionally do anything to hurt anyone,” noting that he had learned in the past decade “that there are things that you must be sensitive about.”
“There are issues that I was not aware of back then. In 2010, we weren’t anywhere near where we are now,” he said. “Right now, systemic racism is killing people, anti-Semitism is on the rise, Black trans women are being murdered at a horrifying rate. And the insensitive words of those actually in power are actually killing people. I continue to educate myself, I continue to listen and learn.
“I am in no way a racist. I am in no way transphobic,” he continued. “I’m a gay Jew who was brought up in a very open, accepting family. There is not a racist or intolerant bone in my body. When I say that I have evolved with the times, I mean that my comedy has. I did not need to be taught not to be racist or transphobic because I never was.”
Rainbow suggested that he was being targeted, including being “threatened” and “harassed,” for political purposes, because he sues his platform “every day to speak truth to power and shine a light on inequities and injustices of the world, and expose truly intolerant and racist people.”
“There are nefarious people out there who want to silence me because they don’t like what I really have to say,” he said.
Rainbow also suggested that those seeking to cancel him take stock of where his tweets were coming from.
“In regards to what I’m going through now, people need to consider the source. You know, I am a comedian. I’m not a politician. I’m not a political pundit. I’m not running for office. I’m not a news anchor. I’m a comedian,” he said.
“This scandal I’m going through might seem a little more scandalous to some because I now have this voice in the political world. I am known as the guy who calls out bigotry and racism, which is what I want to do. That’s how I want to use my platform. That’s what’s really in my heart.
“So these recent tweets resurfacing are not skeletons in my closet; they’re crappy jokes in my shoe box from a decade ago. I think we just need to be careful about considering the source.”
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