Ellen DeGeneres is facing backlash from some parts of the LGBT+ community, particularly queer people of colour, after backing Kevin Hart to host this year’s Oscars.
A number of prominent LGBT+ journalists and figures have slammed DeGeneres for urging Hart to backtrack on his decision to quit the Academy Awards, after he was widely criticised for a series of homophobic tweets he made between 2009 and 2012.
Tre’Vell Anderson, entertainment director at Out , wrote in an opinion piece for the publication: “As a Black queer someone who, when my body began to manifest aspects of my identity—a sway in my walk, a bend in my wrist—was punched in the chest by Black men in my family, Ellen can’t and doesn’t speak for me.”
“[Hart] should especially seek forgiveness from Black queer folks in addition to his broader appeals, something DeGeneres can’t grant.”
—Out entertainment director Tre’Vell Anderson
In the article, titled The Problem With Ellen DeGeneres’ Kevin Hart Interview, Anderson said that the interview with Hart should have instead been conducted by a queer person of colour, such as Robin Roberts or Don Lemon.
Tre’Vell Anderson: As a black queer person, Ellen DeGeneres doesn’t speak for me
The entertainment director added: “Hart is one of the most recognizable Black faces in pop culture and that’s why he should especially seek forgiveness from Black queer folks in addition to his broader appeals, something DeGeneres can’t grant.”
Journalist and activist George M Johnson also hit-out at DeGeneres for acting on behalf of the black LGBT+ community in a video on Twitter.
“Ellen this really wasn’t your place to offer forgiveness because you weren’t harmed in all of this, black LGBTQ people were harmed in this situation,” Johnson said.
“So to allow Kevin Hart to come on your show, basically speak for six minutes straight, uninterrupted, where you don’t challenge him on any of the things he’s said, is just a disservice and more of what black LGBTQ people have experienced from white LGBTQ people, who continue to absorb cis hetero people when they harm our community in particular.”
“Ellen this really wasn’t your place to offer forgiveness because you weren’t harmed in all of this, Black LGBTQ people were harmed in this situation.”
—Journalist and activist George M Johnson
Johnson added: “Where were you allowing the space for those who were harmed to come on your show and talk about it?”
The activist’s video had been liked by more than 10,000 people at the time of publication.
Louis Staples, an LGBT+ journalist, meanwhile, wrote in an article for The Independent that it was “disappointing” to see DeGeneres engaging in Hart’s “victim narrative.”
“Rather than giving him free rein to speak and labelling his critics as ‘haters,’ DeGeneres, with her decades of experience, could have steered the discussion in a more productive direction,” Staples added.
DeGeneres’ interview with Hart is due to air on January 4, but snippets of the conversation were published by Variety.
The talk show host, who was recently named the most admired LGBT+ person in the US, also shared clips of the conversation on social media.
In the interview, Hart insisted he had previously apologised for his homophobic tweets and said that the timing of the news reports revealing his homophobic tweets “wasn’t a coincidence,” but instead was a “malicious attack on my character.”
DeGeneres supported Hart throughout their discussion, telling him: “Don’t let those people win. Host the Oscars.”
She said she called the Academy to ask them to reconsider Hart’s role and they seemed willing to do so.
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DeGeneres also took to Twitter to back the comedian.
“Don’t let those people win. Host the Oscars.”
— Ellen DeGeneres
“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in Kevin Hart,” the TV host wrote in a tweet.
At the end of the interview, Hart said he was “evaluating this conversation” in relation to whether he would consider hosting the Oscars.
Why did Kevin Hart step down from hosting the Oscars?
Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars in December, shortly after being given the role.
He also said sorry on Twitter, writing: “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
In his historic tweets, Hart called gay people “fags,” as well as using the term “gay” in a derogatory way, and mocked lesbians.
The 91st Academy Awards are scheduled to take place on February 24. No replacement host has been announced since Hart stepped down.