UPDATED 8/2, 9 p.m. ET: Following backlash to his interview with The Sunday Times, Damon released a statement to Variety pushing back against the idea that the “f-slur” was a word that he had been using. He said that he had not called anyone it, nor does he use any other slurs, in his personal life, and ended by claiming he stands with the LGBTQ+ community.
“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 ‘f*g’ used on the street before I knew what it even referred to,” Damon said. “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.
“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. I have learned that eradicating prejudice requires active movement toward justice rather than finding passive comfort in imagining myself ‘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.”
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Matt Damon revealed in an interview with the UK newspaper The Sunday Times that he only recently stopped using a homophobic slur after one of his daughters wrote a lengthy treatise explaining how “dangerous” the word is.
“The word that my daughter calls the ‘f-slur for a homosexual’ was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application,” Damon said. “I made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter. She left the table.”
“I said, ‘Come on, that’s a joke! I say it in the movie Stuck on You!,” he continued, referencing to the 2003 Farrelly brothers-directed film about two conjoined twins. “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.”
Damon’s revelation has been interpreted as the 50-year-old actor was still unabashedly saying the “f-slur” just a few months ago, and never thought anything of it until his child brought it to his attention.
Back in 2015, Damon confronted rumors that he and longtime friend and Good Will Hunting collaborator Ben Affleck were gay by claiming that actors should remain secretive about aspects of their personal life, sexual orientation included.
“I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly,” he told The Guardian. “But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you, period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.”
Damon also addressed his poorly-received remarks about Harvey Weinstein with The Sunday Times, summing up his public misstep by saying, “Twenty years ago, the best way I can put it is that the journalist listened to the music more than the lyrics [of an interview]. Now your lyrics are getting parsed, to pull them out of context and get the best headline possible.”
“Before it didn’t really matter what I said, because it didn’t make the news,” he continued. But maybe this shift is a good thing. So I shut the fuck up more.”