With a late-night announcement, Kevin Hart decided to step down as 2019’s Oscars host in light of the backlash surrounding his past homophobic comments. Many supported the decision, but GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis believes it could’ve all happened much differently.
“Kevin Hart shouldn’t have stepped down; he should have stepped up,” Ellis said in a statement released to EW. “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. We would still welcome that conversation with him. 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.”
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences revealed Hart as their pick for Oscars host, his problematic past came back to haunt him. Users on social media unearthed his past stand-up comedy routines and tweets in which he jokes about doing everything in his power to prevent his son from being gay.
In one of the more eye-grabbing instances, he tweeted, “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.'”
Hart, perhaps inadvertently, exacerbated the controversy when he did not issue an initial apology, but instead “passed” on the opportunity, claiming he addressed the situation “several times” already. GLAAD also previously tweeted that the organization “reached out to @ABCNetwork, @TheAcademy and @KevinHart4real’s management to discuss Kevin’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage.”
The formal apology came later when Hart announced he was bowing out of the Oscars ceremony.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
Ellis appeared on CNN’s New Day to elaborate on the matter, noting “it wasn’t the conclusion I think everybody would’ve liked.” She clarified that she wasn’t in “direct contact” with Hart, but spoke with his representatives. “From his actions,” she added, it seemed like he wanted to address “this teachable moment” on “his own terms.”
“We were hoping that this was going to turn into a teachable moment, that Kevin Hart would still be hosting the Oscars and he would be using this moment not only to show his evolution around the LGBTQ community but also to then use the Oscars stage, one of the biggest stages in the world, to help build unity and awareness around the LGBTQ community and how we are marginalized in this country,” Ellis said.