Ellen DeGeneres has forgiven Kevin Hart — but many in the LGBTQ community do not feel the same way.
The lesbian comedian stirred a backlash when she invited Hart on her talk show to discuss the controversy surrounding his decision to step down as host of the Oscars. Previously, a series of troubling antigay tweets from Hart's past emerged, and the actor was accused of failing to sincerely apologize for them.
"I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in Kevin Hart,” reads the post introducing the clip of the interview on DeGeneres’s social media.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 4, 2019
“When it first happened, my first thought is I’m going to ignore it because it’s 10 years old. This is stuff I’ve addressed,” Hart told DeGeneres. “I’ve talked about this. This isn’t new. I’ve apologized for it.”
Hart was talking about having apologized for tweets that included one in which he “joked” about enacting violence on a gay son. "Yo if my son comes home & try's 2 play with my daughters doll house I'm going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice stop that's gay,” Hart tweeted in 2011.
In a nearly five-minute speech, Hart again went on the defensive, reiterating that the resurfaced tweets were part of a "slander" campaign from trolls and that that he didn't have a "homophobic bone" in his body.
“I’m not that guy,” he said.
“I know you’re not that guy because I know you,” DeGeneres replied. “You should host the Oscars, and I’m going to talk you into it after this.”
DeGeneres may be a beloved public figure and a pioneer in the modern LGBTQ movement — and it should be noted that the out talk show host did not explicitly present herself as an ambassador of the community in this instance.
However, many LGBTQ folks — and in particular, queer people of color — made clear that DeGeneres did not speak for them in giving Hart her endorsement.
"Ellen DeGeneres isn’t the queer savior everyone likes to think she is and Kevin Hart has a lot more growing to do," Tre'vell Anderson wrote in an op-ed for Out magazine, The Advocate's sibling publication.
Anderson added, "I’m not one to tell many people to 'stay in your lane,' but Kevin Hart is a Black man who once 'joked' he’d break a doll house over the head of his Black son; my granny once said 'truth is always told in jest.' As a Black queer someone who, when my body began to manifest aspects of my identity even I was unaware of — a sway in my walk, a bend in my wrist — was punched in the chest by Black men in my family and told to 'man up,' Ellen can’t and doesn’t speak for me."
Many were also critical that DeGeneres did not push back on Hart's argument in the interview or use the conversation as an opportunity to address societal stigma. Read more reactions below.
I feel like if you’re not homophobic anymore, you shouldn’t mind apologizing for your past homophobia again and again and again. I don’t want to hear a hostile retelling of how we didn’t hear your meager apology the first time.
— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) January 4, 2019
I expected Ellen to actually ask Kevin Hart some sort of challenging question. Anything, really. But instead, it was just one long monologue from Kevin interspersed with Ellen’s approval. That interview made me miss the previous talk show hosts that asked tough questions.
— deray (@deray) January 4, 2019
The powers that be (which now include Ellen) decided she could stand in for the queer community. The homophobic “jokes” Hart told included saying he would beat a young Black queer child. To have him apologize to a white woman is inappropriate. https://t.co/mjUgttR7dK
— Hispanic Pixie Dream Girl (@mathewrodriguez) January 4, 2019
And furthermore, Ellen can't forgive someone on behalf of the community, LOL. That's NOT how that works! I think she gave Kevin a pass instead of having an actually productive conversation about what these words and attitudes mean and how prevalent they are in our society.
— Phillip Picardi (@pfpicardi) January 4, 2019
The only thing @KevinHart4real proved by going on Ellen was that he is a terrible actor with zero genuine remorse who didn’t have the decency to address his ignorance. No, they weren’t “haters” who came after you. It was the LGBTQI+ community because we’re sick to shit of it.
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) January 4, 2019
In light of Ellen absolving Kevin Hart for his history of homophobic remarks, this seems like a good time to reiterate that no one member of a marginalized identity can forgive a bigot on behalf of the entire group.
— ella dawson (@brosandprose) January 4, 2019
Ellen knows exactly who her audience is and, shockingly, I don’t think queer black people are at the center of it. https://t.co/hu77M4QdeY
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) January 4, 2019