Parenting

From A Queer Mom: My Thoughts About Matt Damon And His Use Of A Homophobic Slur

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Scary Mommy and Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty

I’ve said the word “shit” one too many times in front of my kid, and from time to time, she will repeat it. Then we go through the rigamarole about adult words v. kid words and why she shouldn’t use words like shit. She gets it. When I read the headline “Matt Damon credits his daughter for ending his use of the f-slur,” my eyes rolled so hard. The headline alone needs to say something else completely, like “Matt Damon Apologizes For Being Incredibly Homophobic.” We are living in 2021 — what the hell Matt?

As a queer person, when I read the article, I became even more enraged. Matt attributes his change in vernacular to his understanding that there have been “changes in modern masculinity” — I ask you, dear reader, what the hell does this even mean? Changes in modern masculinity…does he mean that all people need to be respected, including gay men, who have long bore the brunt of cruel language, namely the word ‘f•ggot?’ Let’s not sugar coat hate to save face for something that is inherently wrong and deeply offensive. We don’t need our kids to teach us that homophobic words like f•ggot are unacceptable words to use, I mean, do you? (It’s worth noting that to some people “dyke” is a homophobic slur, but many queer women have reclaimed it.)

Yes, Matt Damon should be an example for his four daughters. He is their dad after all. They undoubtedly are influenced by him as I am sure he was by his own father. We are products of our environment. We also, as growing beings with our own brains (like Matt’s wise daughter), can choose to follow those who are hateful or we can choose to correct them when they are wrong. Matt is not alone here in his use of the word. I know. I get it. Remember when Kevin Hart removed himself from hosting the Oscars because some homophobic tweets resurfaced? Remember that? Since 2019, Kevin Hart has tried to smooth things over with the LGBTQ community, and then caught some heat (thanks, Twitter) when he commented on Lil Nas X coming out.

Matt shares the moment that his daughter held him accountable for saying f•ggot, at the dinner table nonetheless. He credits his f-slur “joke” to a line in his movie “Stuck On You” from 2003 in which he uses the word. After he told the joke, his daughter left the table to go and write him a letter asking him to “retire” the word. 2003. He’s been using the f-word in his house since before 2003? It’s taken him four daughters and twenty years to learn the lesson that words matter, especially the ones said within your four walls and within your home. There is no way Matt Damon was not aware that this word was offensive. He knew. I tend to believe that people are inherently good until they show me they are not. So, I don’t think Matt Damon is a bad person (I don’t know him personally), but I do think he is a product of his times.

We are never too old to learn from our kids, and our kids are never too old to learn from their parents. If I retire the word “shit” and choose not to say it in earshot of my kid, does that mean I’m not gonna say it the next time I forget my facemask in the car? So, let’s stop making society believe that Matt Damon will retire this offensive slur, and not use it any longer. He is truly the only one who can hold himself accountable in 2021, Twitter can’t do it alone.

Of course, after the story broke, Matt Damon tried to backtrack his comments to save face.

“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,” he said in a statement shared by People. This doesn’t seem to align with his original statements, but okay.

He goes on, “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,” he said. “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.”

He added: “To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”

People are going to be people, and hate will always be part of our society. We can try to hold one another accountable, and we should. We can speak up and speak out, and we should. And we can be advocates for marginalized communities (like the LGBTQ+ community) every single day. There is very little we have control over in this world, but we do have control over what we teach our kids, what they hear and absorb is something altogether different.

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