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Kevin Hart made headlines anew Monday night for apologizing to the LGBTQ community “again” for his past anti-gay tweets. “Once again, Kevin Hart apologizes for his remarks that hurt members of the LGBTQ community. I apologize,” he said on Straight From the Hart, his SiriusXM radio show. He continued, ”I am now moving on from this because I am hoping the apology is accepted. … I am not homophobic and never have been.”
USA Today calls it “a long-awaited” and “formal” apology (versus his initial Twitter apology) following his appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where DeGeneres backed his reinstatement as Oscars host, to the displeasure of Twitter users.
Soon after, CNN host Don Lemon criticized the comedian’s comments on Ellen and challenged him to become an ally of the LGBTQ community. “Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender. Being an ally does,” Lemon said during the segment.
"Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender, being an ally does," says CNN's @DonLemon, reacting to the Oscars' openness to Kevin Hart's return https://t.co/ITGU3Uj2ez pic.twitter.com/4u48sfBF0U— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) January 5, 2019
However, on Monday’s CNN Tonight, the anchor seemed to let the comedian off the hook after speaking with him, with Variety even going so far as to say Lemon “defends” Hart, as he expressed, “He said, but it is not his dream to be an ally for the LGBT community. 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.”
Lemon continued, “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 … an olive branch in an effort to understand.”
However, Twitter is neither convinced by the apology nor willing to let this go, even after Lemon’s softened stance on the matter: “Kevin Hart is only ever an ally to himself. And money. His apologies are meaningless,” user @itsmeliane tweeted.
@donlemon ..Don, Kevin Hart is who he is, he didn’t & won’t change..he apologized just to save his carrier & stop 🛑 the backlash of LGBT..there is sorry & SORRY...— Ali (@AachouiNy) January 8, 2019
Kevin Hart is only ever an ally to himself. And money. His apologies are meaningless. https://t.co/8phdRh61ee— Liane (@itsmeliane) January 8, 2019
Sorry Don, but It doesn’t sound sincere at all. Made it worse actually.— Anna Notaro (@AnnaNotaro22) January 8, 2019
I don't see how anyone can oppose bigotry selectively, but OK: he has no obligation to be an ally. But he does need to sound sincere if he wants people to find his apology credible. And at that he failed. (My thoughts as an ally for 40+ years, personally and professionally.)— Randy B Hecht (@RandyBHecht) January 8, 2019
I think sometimes people think that when you are called upon to be an ally you have to stop doing anything else. This is not the case. But when you see wrong. Call it out. Be a safe haven. Tell your children they’re loved unconditionally. We can all fit that into our schedules.— Malin Forhan (@ForhanMalin) January 8, 2019
Twitter users continue to rally around this conversation. “Too many LGBT people grew up bullied, discriminated against and worse by people who thought it was acceptable to use the word fag … That’s why it’s important to call out people like Kevin Hart,” user Edward Hardy tweeted.
Too many LGBT people grew up being bullied, discriminated against and worse by people who thought it was acceptable to use the word fag— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) January 7, 2019
That’s why it is important to call out people like Kevin Hart
i’m literally screaming why is meghan mccain more progressive on the kevin hart mess than ellen ????? https://t.co/KwklVgzPbc— King-Con (@c0nnorpl3ase) January 7, 2019
At the end of the day, it’s not about being too sensitive to edgy humor. There would be nothing to tolerate, brush off, or to use Lemon’s words, “embrace,” “accept,” or “understand,” if people never make homophobic comments like Hart’s in the first place. Maybe that should be the last word on the matter.
Trixie Reyna-Benedicto is a lifestyle editor and writer based in the Philippines. Previously, she helmed Cosmopolitan Philippines’ website, Cosmo.ph, as its founding editor. She later served as editor-in-chief of lifestyle and entertainment portals for Manila-based media company TV5. Her work has appeared in several print and online publications in her country, and she contributes to Speed Magazine, DG Traveler, and Connected Women, among others. Visit her website, trixiereyna.com.