Actor Matt Damon clarified on Monday to The Hollywood Reporter that he has never used the homophobic slur against someone personally after facing backlash over an interview in The Sunday Times in which he revealed that he stopped using the “f-slur” only a few months ago.
In the interview, Damon had said that he used the term in a joke “months ago,” but his daughter had called him out on it and pointed out that it was not right to use the word. His anecdote sparked anger on social media and several people called out the actor for his late personal realisation.
In his clarification statement shared with THR, Damon said, “During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my daughter where I attempted to contextualize for her the progress that has been made – though by no means completed – since I was growing up in Boston and, as a child, heard the word ‘f*g’ used on the street before I knew what it even referred to. 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; she in turn expressed incredulity that there could ever have been a time where that word was used unthinkingly.”
Damon was referring to his 2003 film Stuck On You!
The actor added that his daughter was “articulate about the extent to which the word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalized it was,” and that he not only agreed with her but was “thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
He further said, “I have never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life 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 LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ community.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s Head of Talent, noted in a statement that the conversations that have arisen after Damon’s original interview and subsequent remarks today are an “important reminder this word, or any word that aims to disparage and disrespect LGBTQ people, has no place in mainstream media, social media, classrooms, workplaces, and beyond.”
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is an American non-governmental organisation that works towards the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in media and film industry.
Ramos added, “There needs to be accountability at a time when anti-LGBTQ slurs remain rampant today and can fuel discrimination and stereotypes, especially when used by those outside of the community to defame or describe LGBTQ people.”
Damon told his “f-slur” anecdote when speaking about his film Stillwater that premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. The Tom McCarthy directorial was recently in the news when Amanda Knox, on whose real life story the film is based, criticised the makers for profiting off her name and portraying her story without her consent.