Quite frankly, I’ve grown weary of the conversations about comedian Kevin Hart and his refusal to apologize for his series of old anti-LGBTQ tweets and jokes — a decision that cost him what he’s called “the opportunity of a lifetime” — hosting the upcoming Oscars.
Hart says he apologized, more than once, and believes that he no longer needs to speak on the issue. He says he’s grown, evolved and changed his perspective, so he doesn’t need to further apologize. And he has that right. Still, as a person with such an expansive public platform, I think he owes us just a little bit more. He has great influence on many minds, young minds in particular. But why is apologizing so difficult? What’s so hard about “stepping up” instead of “stepping down” as Hart has chosen to do?
I’ve tried to put myself in his shoes and must say, that beating my son in the head with a mangled Barbie doll would not be the way I’d address perceived gay-like actions exhibited by my male offspring.
But Hart is not alone in having a more conservative, short-minded perspective about being Black and gay in America. In a recent standup comedy routine, D.L. Hughley, whom I’ve met, interviewed and spent time with personally, shared his opinion. He said, after learning that his favorite nephew had come out to the family, that he finally sat down with him, asking why he’d opted not to share the news with Uncle D.L. The young man said he feared being rejected. Imagine that!
Hughley expressed his love for the young man, he says, and guaranteed his continued support for him. But then, he added this disclaimer: “I’m just glad he’s not my son!” Wow! That slap in the face came out of nowhere — for me anyway. I don’t think his nephew went away from their loving chat with a smile and a sense of satisfaction. I’m sure he felt a lot of pain and disappointment.
Then, there’s the news about this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Kyler Murray, 21, whose handful of anti-gay tweets he made when he was 14 and 15 have recently come to light. The University of Oklahoma standout has since posted a simple apology. And as he was just a juvenile back then, I’m willing to accept his brief “my bad” and move along.
However, in the case of Hughley and Hart, I’m still not looking toward making either of them my role models of the year. Murray, while only 21, realized that he has much greater power because of his Heisman win — and he therefore acted with greater responsibility. Hart did not. Neither did Hughley.
In a time when young Black boys and girls are committing suicide, being tossed onto the streets and even abused or killed because of being gay, the words we say to those who we allegedly love and the actions we take speak volumes. In fact, our words and actions can be the tipping point for some who already feel alone, afraid and confused.
Black folk are much more conservative than some may realize. We may tend to lean toward the Democratic Party, but we are not a monolithic people. For some Blacks, being gay is not an option — it’s not acceptable — it’s not cool. It’s anathema to being a Black man. (Interestingly enough, more Blacks, from my limited view, have fewer objections to a woman coming out than a man — but that’s another conversation).
And I get it! It’s already hard enough to make one’s way in this land of America First as a Black brother — much less as a gay, Black brother. Why add even more problems to one’s already problem-plagued life? Is it true that no one would wish for their child to be gay? And do such wishes that we cannot make come true, if indeed they are already fact and reality, extend to race and gender? Like, no one would want their child to be a female in a male-dominated world? Or, no one would want their child to be Black in a white-dominated world?
We are who we are, we love who we love, and we look like we look. We can’t change that.
Love is supposed to be unconditional — at least true love, agape love. But then, you can always be like Kevin or D.L. and love … but only with conditions.
That’s why they are not my role models. Not today and not tomorrow.