Matt Damon sought to stress he does not use homophobic slurs ‘in his personal life’. (Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Matt Damon has denied using homophobic slurs “in his personal life” after suggesting he retired “the f-slur” only recently.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the 50-year-old actor recalled telling a “joke” at the dinner table with his family using the offensive term just “months ago” only to be shut down by his daughter.
“She went to her room and wrote a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous. I said: ‘I retire the f-slur!’,” he told the British newspaper. “I understood.”
Amid biting criticism for his bizarre revelation, Matt Damon issued a statement to Variety on Monday (2 August).
“I have never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life,” he said, “and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening.
“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’.
“And given that open hostility against the LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ community.”
Matt Damon’s daughter told him how ‘painful’ homophobic slurs can be
Damon claimed that his previous statement had been misconstrued, saying that in his conversation with his daughter, he was only attempting to “contextualise for her the progress that has been made – though by no means completed – since I was growing up in Boston”, recalling how he heard the word “f*g” as a child, before he knew its meaning.
“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,” he said, apparently referring to Stuck on You.
His daughter was incredulous that homophobic slurs could ever have been used “unthinkingly”, Damon continued, and to his “admiration and pride”, spoke of how such words hurt the LGBT+ community “regardless of how culturally normalised”.
He added: “I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
Matt Damon has four daughters aged between 10 and 23. He did not specify which of them wrote the letter.
In his interview with The Sunday Times, he said he used the “most taboo term for gay people” during a meal with his family.
“She left the table,” he recalled. “I said: ‘Come on, that’s a joke! I say it in the movie Stuck on You!’”
Anthony Allen Ramos, head of talent for LGBT+ media watchdog GLAAD, told PinkNews that as much as Damon has clarified his remarks, there must be “accountability” in non-LGBT+ people using offensive terms.
“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 LGBT+ people, has no place in mainstream media, social media, classrooms, workplaces, and beyond,” Ramos said
“There needs to be accountability at a time when anti-LGBT+ slurs remain rampant today and can fuel discrimination and stereotypes, especially when used by those outside of the community to defame or describe LGBT+ people.”