At a certain point, an apology stops meaning anything, because you can say sorry as many times as you want without it actually showing that you regret what you’ve done or understand its impact.
Kevin Hart attempted to apologize once again for the homophobic tweets that led to him stepping down from his Oscars hosting gig, this time on his SiriusXM radio show, Straight From the Hart. “Once again, Kevin Hart apologizes for his remarks that hurt members of the LGBTQ community,” the comedian said in the third person, as if he was pitching headlines to the journalists he knew would inevitable cover the deed (thanks, buddy). “I apologize.”
But Hart once again undermined his apology by insisting his vile homophobia was just for laughs. “I want to say that I have no problem with gay people,” he reiterated Monday. “I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body. I want you to be happy, be gay, be happy. And then I say as a heterosexual male, if I can do something to stop my son...that’s where the joke starts!” The joke he’s referring to, of course, is that is he’d hurt his son if he saw him exhibiting gay behavior.
“I really had to dive into the whole thing, even the tweets,” he said. “These weren’t words that I said to gay individuals. I didn’t say these words to people, at the time, this was our dumb asses on Twitter going back and forth with each other. We thought it was okay to talk like that, because that’s how we talked to one another. In that, you go, ‘Fuck! This is wrong now.’”
“If the fight from the LGBTQ community is equality, that’s the fight. The fight is the will and want for equality. I’m riding with you guys. I understand you,” Hart said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “But in the fight for equality, that means that there has to be an acceptance for change.”
And then Hart attempted to chastise queer people for not accepting his apology, essentially saying it’s not very queer of ya. “If you don’t want to accept people for their change, then where are you trying to get to the equal part? Where does the equality part come in?”
Don Lemon, who criticized Hart’s appearance on Ellen, revealed last night on CNN that he had an off-the-record conversation with Hart. Lemon said the comedian’s goal isn’t to be an ally, it’s to avoid looking like a homophobe. There are levels to homophobia, just like there are levels to racism, Lemon explained.
According to Lemon, Hart said “it is not his dream to be an ally for the LGBT community,” said Lemon. “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 went on to empathize with Hart, who he said must 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,” continued Lemon. “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.”
But conflating Hart’s desire to be forgiven— whether for his own peace of mind or for the sake of his career — with queer people’s fight for equality just proves that he doesn’t care about LGBTQ+ people, doesn’t understand us, and just wants this to go away. And maybe it should, but maybe so should he. No matter how many times you apologize, those words mean nothing if you don’t actually understand why what you’ve done or said is wrong. At no point has Hart expressed an understanding for the impact his words have, how that rhetoric can perpetuate harm against LGBTQ+ kids. And until he reconciles with that, his apologies ring hollow.