Academy Award-winning actor Matt Damon is now saying that he has never referred to people with the term “faggot,” despite saying over the weekend that he used the term until his daughter begged him to stop several months ago.
“I have never called anyone ‘faggot’ in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening,” he said in a statement. “I do not use slurs of any kind.”
Damon, 50, was responding to a wave of criticism following comments he made in a Sunday Times interview, where he said that he “made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter” because the joke involved the anti-gay slur.
“She left the table. I said, ‘Come on, that’s a joke! I say it in the movie Stuck on You!’ 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!’ I understood,” he said.
After getting criticized online for only having only recently stopped using that word, Damon released a statement that says the conversation with his daughter actually played out differently.
“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 ‘fag’ used on the street before I knew what it even referred to,” the statement says. “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.”
“To my admiration and pride, she was extremely articulate about the extent to which that word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalized it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
That’s not how Damon told the Sunday Times the story. In its first iteration, he carelessly made a joke that used the word “faggot” and his daughter called him out on it. In the second version, he was making an abstract point about the slur, already knowing that it’s not an appropriate word to use.
“I have learned that eradicating prejudice requires active movement toward justice rather than finding passive comfort in imagining myself ‘one of the good guys,’” Damon continued in his statement meant to show that he’s “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.”
“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 LGBTQ people, has no place in mainstream media, social media, classrooms, workplaces, and beyond,” said GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos in a statement.
“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.”