Out CNN host Don Lemon dedicated a portion of his Friday night broadcast to address the controversy surrounding actor Kevin Hart’s past homophobic tweets. Lemon criticized the comedian for not apologizing and for portraying himself as a victim and urged him to become an ally of the LGBTQ community.
“For many in the gay community — but especially in the Black community, okay? — the Twitter apologies or explanations on Ellen have fallen flat…To many, they seem insincere, and that he has somehow turned himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of violent and sometimes deadly homophobia. Kevin, if anything, this is the time to hear other people out, to understand why they might have been offended,” Lemon said on Friday.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 5, 2019
“He could help change homophobia in the Black community,” Lemon suggested, “something Kevin’s old Twitter jokes addressed—but in the wrong way.”
On Monday night, Lemon reacted to Kevin Hart saying that it is not his “life dream” to be an LGBT ally.
As a bit of a background to what led to Lemon’s lengthy response last night, Hart was announced as the host of the 91st annual Academy Awards in early December but stepped down following backlash over homophobic tweets from the early 2000s. Then, a few days ago, the comedian sat down with Ellen DeGeneres who said she had reached out to the Academy about rehiring Hart. The Academy revealed the following day it would still be willing to accept Hart as a host if he approached the group about returning.
The CNN anchor revealed that Hart had reached out to him over the weekend, and the two had a lengthy off-the-record phone conversation.
“It was a mostly off the record conversation because I wanted him to be honest with me,” Lemon said.
Lemon did address some comments Hart made on his “Straight From the Hart” SiriusXM radio show, which included an apology to the LGBT community for his past jokes, though he also defended his intent behind them.
“I don’t like the forcing… Don Lemon goes on CNN and he’s like ‘You can fix this, become an ally.’ That’s not my…it’s not my life dream,” Hart said. “I’m now moving on from this because I’m just hoping that the apology is accepted. If it’s chosen not to be accepted, I can’t control that.”
“There are levels to homophobia, just like there are levels to racism,” Lemon explained, bringing up his own internalized homophobia towards effeminate men.
“He said, but it is not his dream to be an ally for the LGBT community,” Lemon continued. “Now, you can take that however want. You can be upset by it. Whatever. However you want to feel. But that is his right. Whether I like it or not, whether you like it or not, that is his right.”
“So listen, there’s been a lot of Kevin backed out of hosting the Oscars, and on some level you can understand for him that it may feel like he’s under attack. Because he’s in the middle of it. But I will tell you for me as I relate to him and I can talk about my part, he’s not a victim,” Lemon said. “So listen to what he’s saying there. He wants to be accepted. He wants us to accept him. He wants to be embraced on his own merits. Isn’t that what the LGBT community wants? Isn’t that the same thing they were asking for, to be embraced on their own merits and not be stereotyped and stigmatized? So maybe — right? An olive branch in an effort to understand.”
Despite Hart’s claim that he had apologized years ago for the homophobic jokes, an investigation by Vulture found no apology prior to his December 7th tweet, after which he’d already stepped down from the Oscars hosting gig.
.@donlemon says he received a phone call from Kevin Hart after his plea for Hart to become an ally of the LGBTQ community.
— New Day (@NewDay) January 8, 2019