Here at the Sacramento LGBT Community Center or mission is to create a region where LGBTQ people thrive, and part of that is rooted in the people that get the spotlight, recognition and media attention.
In this age of YouTube and various social media channels, we have all learned that things we have said or done can come back around. And this was clearly the case with Kevin Hart and some of the homophobic tweets from his past.
He is not the first celebrity, nor will he be the last to lose opportunities because of hateful and regrettable things said in the past.
This is a very public learning moment. But it is important to state that immature, insensitive, even hateful things said in the past don’t mean you can’t learn, grow and evolve. Kevin Hart was given the platform and opportunity to unequivocally apologize and explain any growth he may have experienced since those statements were put on Twitter, but instead he declined and apology** and turned down the chance at hosting the program.
Something we train our staff, fellow nonprofits, business and community members on is the power in admitting you are wrong, learning from an error, and continuing to grow. It is a humbling experience to admit you were wrong, even on something that was intended as a joke. Jokes still have the power to perpetuate toxic cultural stereotypes and gross inaccuracies.
Every day at the LGBT Center we see how jokes, slurs, and belittling comments have very real consequences. Two-thirds of the unhoused youth that use our services are LGBTQ and were forced out of their homes, schools, faith, and communities because of the sentiment that many of these jokes speak to.
It is a sign of the progress we are making that problematic actors and problematic jokes are being publicly challenged more frequently than ever.
Another question comes up as we look at this very public misstep, and that is “Should the Academy have known better than to offer Hart this role?”
The answer is “yes.”
Hollywood needs to pay closer attention and use greater care when it chooses figures to represent itself and all Americans. They famously have lacked diversity in the movies the choose, the actors they recognize and the members that vote on winners. From #Oscarssowhite to #MeToo, the Academy is not evolving and reflecting the changes happening in our society and so society is speaking up.
Television, movies, music, media, are all places where the LGBTQ community have often found joy, found accepting employment and opportunity for creative and self-expression and the Academy should seek out a host that not only reflects the industry but one that is also willing to be challenged and accept critiques from the communities that make up the industry and our population as a whole.
In order to create a world where the LGBTQ community can thrive, we must first be heard and included. Progress is rarely smooth, but it is almost always worth it.
**Kevin Hart has since apologized with the following statement on Twitter. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past….I’m sorry that I hurt people,” he added. “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.”