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Dear Ellen DeGeneres, It's Not Your Place to Forgive Kevin Hart

Dear Ellen DeGeneres, It's Not Your Place to Forgive Kevin Hart

Dear Ellen DeGeneres, It's Not Your Place to Forgive Kevin Hart

Hart has some more work to do for the Black LGBTQ community.

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Ellen "Spokesperson-for-all-the-gays" DeGeneres has, for some reason, absolved Kevin Hart of all of his sins. 

Yesterday, the talk show host shared a clip of her interview with Hart on social media captioned, "I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in Kevin Hart." The comedian talked for nearly six uninterrupted minutes about his shattered Oscar dreams and frustrations with being labeled a homophobe. 

 

 

The controversy sparked last December when it was announced that Hart would host the 2019 Academy Awards, one of a handful of Black celebrities to have the honor. Just days later, his homophobic tweets from 2009-2011 resurfaced on social media, and the Oscars asked Hart to apologize for his comments or step down. 

Hart, who was between 30 and 32 years old at the time of the tweets, derogatorily called people "fag," delighted in saying someone's profile pic looked like "a gay bill board for AIDS," and "jokingly" threatened to break a dollhouse over his son's head if he caught him playing with one to keep him from becoming gay.

Hart believes his previous apologies for the tweets at a 2012 press junket and the 2015 promotional tour for Get Hard were enough, but stepped down as the Oscars host and reiterated the sentiment when they reemerged.

"I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past," he tweeted. "I'm sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again."

He detailed the experience on Ellen. "After a day full of congratulations and celebrations, I'm hit with an onslaught on social media of my past coming back up again," Hart told DeGeneres. "Not even a full 24 hours to glow." 

"I know who I am. I know I don't have a homophobic bone in my body. I know that I've addressed it, I know that I've apologized. I've taken ten years to put my apology to work. I've yet to go back to that version of the immature comedian I once was. I've moved on. I'm a grown man."

Ellen then replied with a blanket blessing of forgiveness on behalf of LGBTQ people everywhere. "Whatever is going on in the Internet, don't pay attention to them. That's a small group of people being very, very loud. We are a huge group of people who love you and want to see you host the Oscars."

I'm all about forgiveness, but the interview as a whole doesn't sit well with me. These "jokes" exhume a particular pain for many Black LGBTQ people. I remember hearing this kind of language from my own family as young as 11-years-old, quietly listening to relatives make fun of the "down low" coworker and watching them turn their noses up at the cousin who brought their "roommate" home for Thanksgiving. I was called fag by people I loved before I even understood what being gay meant. Those veiled "be straight, or else" ultimatums set me up for years of self-loathing and fearfully living in the closet. Too many LGBTQ people don't make it out of those painful years alive.

Ultimately, Hart's "sorry if I offended you" and "I won't use the words again" still feel like he doesn't see the full picture. And DeGeneres dismissing the real concerns of LGBTQ people as online trolls, then forgiving him on behalf of people she doesn't speak for is a wild swerve out of her lane. 

A forced apology motivated by protecting your career feels empty. I want to see the change. If you do host the 2019 Oscars, use the platform to bring awareness to LGBTQ causes and issues. AIDS is a distressing problem among Black gay men and Black trans women are being killed at an alarming rate. Donate to LGBTQ organizations like the Trevor Project and amFAR. And instead of Ellen, have a conversation with someone from the Black LGBTQ community like RuPaul, or Wanda Sykes, or Indya Moore, who your colleague DL Hughley called a "pussy" for wanting you to apologize.

Then, I will consider forgiveness. Because words without action mean very little to the most vulnerable part of your community, Mr. Hart. 

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Taylor Henderson

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one! 

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one!