Kevin Hart is in the midst of recovering from a very serious car accident. And though he is still on the mend, it hasn’t stopped the internet for coming for him.
Just a few minutes ago, I didn’t know what Hart could have possibly done this time. But from the looks of things, it’s more of the same, a lack of awareness regarding homophobia. Kevin Hart and Lil Nas X, of “Old Town Road” fame were both together for LeBron James’ HBO show “The Shop.”
As its name suggests, “The Shop” features famous of famous-adjacent Black men having conversations that might come up in the barbershop.
Someone on the panel with Hart and Lil Nas X asked the singer why he decided to come out at the height of his career.
Many of us understand the implications of such a question. Being a Black gay man in the Black community, with a Black fan base, can be especially tricky. With the influence of the church and our community held ideals about masculinity, homosexuality is not embraced with open arms. So it was a good question.
See how this bit of the conversation played out.
Moderator: And with all that early success, you felt it was important to make an announcement…
Kevin Hart: He said he was gay, so what?!
Someone in the crowd: Who cares?
Moderator: It’s not about who cares… that’s actually my question. Why did you feel it was necessary to come out and say that.
Lil Nas X: It’s not that it’s like being forced it’s just like knowing, growing up…I’m growing up to hate that sh*t. I’m not supposed to…
Kevin Hart: Hate what?!
Lil Nas X: Homosexuality. Gay people.
Kevin Hart: Why?
Lil Nas X: Come on now.
Kevin Hart: Why are you growing up to hate it?
Lil Nas X: If you’re really from the hood, you know. You know it’s not something…so it’s like for me, the “cool” dude with the song on top of everything to say this. Any other time, I’m doing this for attention in my eyes. But if you doing this while you’re at the top, you know it’s like for real. And it’s showing, it doesn’t matter I guess.
You can watch this part of the conversation in the video below.
Let’s start on a positive note. From his online presence, I knew that Lil Nas X was clever. But addressing foolishness in real time, in front of real people is a different story. And I was very pleased to see the way he handled himself here. Kevin Hart seemed to be hellbent on jumping in the conversation feigning ignorance about a topic with which he has infamously had trouble. I know this special wasn’t filmed yesterday but surely it was recorded after Hart’s Oscar-hosting debacle, in which old homophobic tweets of his were unearthed and the opportunity to host the Oscars was rescinded because he initially refused to apologize for comments like, he would beat his son if he were gay.
He knows what it is. And if Lil Nas X was reading during that scandal, then he knows that Kevin knows too. Which is why I was happy to hear him say, “if you’re from the hood then you know.” Kevin happens to be from Philadelphia. He knows, just like his tweets suggested. But honestly, you don’t have to be from the hood to have learned homophobia. You could be from the Black church. You could come from a family of men committed to misogyny. It’s prevalent.
And honestly, it’s sad that Lil Nas X, the victim of some of these comments, had to explain to Kevin Hart of all people how homophobia manifests itself in the Black community.
We were taught to hate it. We can’t help what we’re taught. But what we can do is reconcile spewing and spouting those teachings when those lessons hurt and marginalize other people. Which is what Hart failed to do the first time around.
He knows that. Lil Nas X knows that. The people tuned into this show know that. Which is why I can’t understand why Kevin Hart would pretend not to understand homophobia when he was called out for being homophobic.
But perhaps that’s just it.
Despite his coerced apology and the subsequent tour, maybe Hart never recognized the error of his ways because he never took the time to understand why people were upset with him in the first place. He knew there was backlash but I wonder if he took the time to recognize the ramifications of his words and the pain they may to homosexual people.
I get the sense that Hart, with his insistence to answer a question that wasn’t directed to him and interject in irrelevant ways, was trying to show that he doesn’t consider homosexuality to be a big deal. His “who cares?!” was likely meant to send a message that a Black man’s sexual preference doesn’t matter to him. But it mattered for his son. And while these tweets were written in 2010 and Kevin Hart has the right to grow, mature and evolve, pretending like you don’t know how your former mentality contributed to the suppression and oppression of other people, other Black people, is not only dishonest, it’s irresponsible. And worst of all, it may even suggest that for all of his apologizing, Kevin Hart still doesn’t know why what he said was so wrong.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.