We Are Not Obligated to Forgive Brutal Homophobic Dialogue
Recently, Ellen Degeneres had Kevin Hart on her show to discuss his homophobic “jokes” and comments. She firmly defended and supported Kevin Hart, and immediately received backlash for it.
While both Kevin Hart and Ellen Degeneres refuse to analyze just how hurtful Hart’s homophobic jokes and comments, many LGBTQ members can’t. We can’t accept a shallow apology and just move on.
Do you know why we can’t accept his half — assed, defensive apologies?
Because his jokes illustrate a grim reality for a lot of young LGBTQ people. Little, black, gay boys are brutally killed by a family member for displaying “homosexual” characteristics. Both young and teen boys are beaten, bullied, and even intentionally neglected because they’re not “manly enough.”
He keeps saying he’s growing and changing and becoming a better man, and that’s good. He keeps saying that he’s apologized multiple times already and uses the defense that he made those comments in the past.
Actions speak louder than words. His abrupt stepping down from hosting the Oscars was out of frustration and a mindset of “the past is the past and I’m not going to apologize for something I did years ago.” He claims he stepped down because he didn’t want to make the night about him and his past, when in reality all he had to do was apologize.
He could have acknowledged that the material he used in his comedy skits and his casual homophobic tweets was wrong and apologized to the LGBTQ people he potentially hurt.
Imagine having a favorite comedian and buying all of his shows once they hit the DVD stands.
Imagine purchasing tickets to go see them live. Imagine being extremely excited. You’re sitting in a packed house and your favorite comedian is on a roll. You’re having one of the best times of your life. The crowd is roaring with laughter and the comedian has to stop himself from laughing to keep going on with his rehearsed jokes.
Then all of a sudden he says something homophobic or transphobic. The crowd is roaring with laughter, but all of a sudden you’re no longer a part of that crowd — because the joke is about you. The joke is about your community. You have been made the butt of one of this comedian’s jokes, as if your whole existence is something to be made fun of.
Now you feel like one of those freak shows at the circus. You start to feel paranoid and feel eyes on you. You wonder if they know you’re in the LGBTQ community. You try to laugh it off, but it’s too late. You already feel that icy chill of isolation. An invisible wall has firmly planted itself beside you, cutting you off from the rest of the crowd and the comedian. You can still see them having an amazing time, but you’re not a part of it. You have a strong urge to get up and leave. You don’t feel welcome in that space anymore.
Later on, you can’t bring yourself to continue watching your favorite comedian due to the shallow jabs at your community. You try, but it just makes your skin crawl.
“That was a joke to Kevin. The truth is, that is a reality for many little boys in the United States … somewhere a black dad is beating his black son,” Lemon said, referencing a story about his friend and Hollywood creator Lee Daniels. In his series “Empire,” Daniels scripted a real-life moment when his own father threw him into a garbage can as a little boy for wearing a pair of high heels. — Dom Lemon
When I was going to public school, both younger and older kids were repeating Kevin Hart’s jokes to get a laugh from their classmates. We watched him on bootleg DVDs and gritty YouTube videos. Some of our parents bought his DVDs and we watched him on those. How many LGBTQ kids questioning their gender identity and sexuality watched him and felt like their existence was a joke?
They were indeed jokes to Kevin Hart, and they probably still are.
However, to many of us they were hurtful. These jokes resembled the same jokes we had to endure in school. They were the same jokes used to bully us and make us feel like were broken or defected.
There is one joke in particular that really got under my skin. He either tweeted or said that if he caught his son playing with a dollhouse, he’d break it over his head. In what world is this joke okay? In what world is this even remotely funny?
Do you know how often a father catches their son doing something feminine and react violently? Do you know how often a child gets beaten, kicked out, or even killed just for being a little too feminine for their parents.
Many celebrities voice their opinions that they would never have a gay son. Can you imagine what kind of pain that causes to young, gay boys? These statements make them wonder if their own parents wished they had a “normal” son. After Kevin Hart received this renewed backlash over his anti — LGBTQ comments, many other black, male comedians came to his defence. Nick Cannon claimed that they were the ones being attacked.
Attacked? LGBTQ people are attacked every day. Trans women are brutally killed. Young LGBTQ teens and young adults are abruptly kicked out after years of abuse. LGBTQ are discrimated against in the work force and even in school. Young LGBTQ kids are relentlessly bullied, even to the point of suicide attempts. We are the ones being attacked, not rich comedians.
Over the years, Kevin Hart has frequently used anti — LGBTQ jokes in his material. When those comments first surfaced, he was in his thirties. He wasn’t some young 15 year old boy trying to impress his friends. He was an established commedian using the LGBTQ community as a joke to make money. He sold out venues with his anti — LGBTQ jokes that specifically catered to homophobic people.
His apology does nothing for me.
His long statements about how he’s growing and changing do nothing for me. His defensive comments about him making those statements in the past only reinforce the idea that he still believes these homophobic ideas.
I don’t care about his words. I want his actions. I want him to donate to LGBTQ group homes. I want him to provide scholarships specifically for LGBTQ students. I want him to donate to LGBTQ foundations and organizations dedicated to helping LGBTQ individuals in every aspect of life.
His words do nothing but save his own ass, and he doesn’t even need saving. Even if he doesn’t host the Oscars, he still has movies coming out and tours on the way. He doesn’t need to win back his audience because the bulk of his audience is homophobic and transphobic.
Ellen Degeneres broke down doors for LGBTQ people — specifically white lesbians. I commend her for that. However, we as a community are not obligated to keep forgiving these people. We are not obligated to accept their half — assed apologies and defense tactics.
Ellen can defend Kevin as much as she wants.
His comments didn’t affect her because she isn’t in the black community. She is an established talk show host who also happens to be a white lesbian. She supports the LGBTQ community, but she does not speak for us. Matter of fact, she mostly supports the white LGBTQ community, whether it’s intentional or not. She has no idea what black and POC LGBTQ individuals face on a daily bases, so she can not efficiently stand up for us. This is why she can’t speak for us. She can only speak for herself.
However, Dom Lemon can speak for the part of the LGBTQ community that also happens to be POC as well.
In a gripping segment on his CNN news show Friday night, anchor Don Lemon opened up as a member of both the African-American and LGBT communities and called for a deeper response from comedian Kevin Hart in renewed controversy over his defunct Oscar hosting gig.
Lemon addressed the spectacle of Hart’s Thursday appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, which has widely been criticized for Hart’s perceived victimhood over backlash to previous homophobic tweets and DeGeneres’ emphatic support of his return to the Oscar job, which many found tone deaf.
“Someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the entire world, he can be a leader … he can help change homophobia in the black community, something Kevin’s old twitter jokes addressed but in the wrong way,” Lemon said. — Dom Lemon, Variety.com
Dom Lemon has done something many black, male celebrities refused to do, which is hold Kevin Hart accountable.
“Those views of the LGBT people in the black community have consequences,” Lemon said, calling up stats from the American Center for Progress, like their report that 44% of homeless gay youth in America are black.
“For many in the gay community, especially in the black community, the Twitter apologies on ‘Ellen’ have fallen flat,” Lemon continued, noting reactions calling the talk show moment “insincere” and that Hart “somehow turns himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of violent and sometimes deadly homophobia.” — Dom Lemon, Variety.com
We as both a community and as individuals do not have to grit our teeth and accept being the butt end of harmful remarks disguised as jokes. If you can’t be funny without being homophobic or transphobic, then maybe you just aren’t that funny.