Hunting for some goodwill after an interview anecdote gone terribly wrong, Matt Damon is clarifying that he doesn’t “use slurs of any kind” and firmly stands with the LGBTQ community.
The actor addressed his controversial comments in a statement released on Monday night after revealing in a profile for The Sunday Times that he only just recently stopped using the “f-slur for a homosexual” at the behest of his daughter.
In the piece, Damon said that he used the word “months ago” as part of a joke, which prompted one of his children to write a “treatise” on “how that word is dangerous.”
“I said, ‘I retire the f-slur!’ I understood,” Damon told the outlet, leaving many to wonder exactly why he was just coming to this realization.
Now, the Oscar winner is claiming that he has “never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life” and elaborating on what he was trying to convey in the exchange.
“During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my daughter where I attempted to contextualize for her the progress that has been made — though by no means completed — since I was growing up in Boston and, as a child, heard the word ‘f*g’ used on the street before I knew what it even referred to,” Damon said in a statement provided to People. “I explained that that word was used constantly and casually and was even a line of dialogue in a movie of mine as recently as 2003; she in turn expressed incredulity that there could ever have been a time where that word was used unthinkingly. To my admiration and pride, she was extremely articulate about the extent to which that word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalized it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
“I have never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening,” he continued. “I do not use slurs of any kind. I have learned that eradicating prejudice requires active movement toward justice rather than finding passive comfort in imagining myself ‘one of the good guys.’”
Damon concluded his message by saying, “Given that open hostility against the LGBTQ+ community is still not uncommon, I understand why my statement led many to assume the worst. To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”
Media blunders have become an increasingly common occurrence for Damon, who has found himself in similar hot water for once dismissing a colleague’s concerns about diverse hiring practices behind the camera and lightly suggesting that gay actors should stay in the closet to preserve an air of “mystery.”
In the Sunday Times interview, he even mused on how his words can often be mischaracterized when speaking to the press, claiming that he’s learned to “shut the f**k up more” due to his numerous missteps.
After Damon issued a follow-up to his initial comments, GLAAD’s Head of Talent Anthony Allen Ramos also released a statement about the controversy.
“The conversations that have arisen after Matt Damon’s original interview and subsequent remarks today are an important reminder that this word, or any word that aims to disparage and disrespect LGBTQ people, has no place in mainstream media, social media, classrooms, workplaces, and beyond,” Ramos said in a statement to HuffPost. “There needs to be accountability at a time when anti-LGBTQ slurs remain rampant today and can fuel discrimination and stereotypes, especially when used by those outside of the community to defame or describe LGBTQ people.”
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