GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis has weighed in on the Kevin Hart Oscars fiasco, but not in the way most people might expect. In a statement given to The Wrap, Ellis criticized Hart for stepping down as the host of the 2019 Academy Awards, saying that Hart could have shown his growth by remaining the host and bringing awareness to LGBTQ issues.
“Kevin Hart shouldn’t have stepped down; he should have stepped up,” Ellis said. “Hart’s apology to LGBTQ people is an important step forward, but he missed a real opportunity to use his platform and the Oscars stage to build unity and awareness.”
In an interview with CNN, embedded below, Ellis said GLAAD was hoping Hart would have used the hosting gig as a “teachable moment” for both himself and the nation at large. Hart was announced as Oscars host on December 4, but soon after he was called out on social media for his history of homophobic jokes.
One controversial joke from Hart’s 2010 comedy special, “Seriously Funny,” included a bit where the comedian thought about how he would react if his son grew up as a gay man. “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay,” Hart said in the special. “That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic. . . . Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
Hart told Rolling Stone in 2015 he would not make the same joke again, but it was just one of numerous instances of the comedian making homophobic jokes and references. Hart’s Twitter page included several tweets with gay slurs in them, and the comedian started deleting some of the tweets in the wake of the backlash. Eventually, Hart announced he would step down as Oscars host.
“I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” Hart said. “I’m sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart.”
Ellis and GLAAD had hoped Hart would remain host so that he could use such a major platform to bring people together on LGBTQ issues. Ellis said that Hart stepping down “isn’t the conclusion I think everyone would have liked,” and she remained clear the door is always open at GLAAD should Hart want to discuss the controversy.
As for who the Academy should choose to replace Hart, Ellis said, “The Academy has recently made significant strides in featuring diverse talent onstage and they should now double down on that commitment as they look for a new host.”
The Oscars air Sunday, February 24.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis on why she was hoping Kevin Hart wouldn’t step down as Oscars host:
— New Day (@NewDay) December 7, 2018