In a gripping segment on his CNN news show Friday night, anchor Don Lemon opened up as a member of both the African-American and LGBT communities and called for a deeper response from comedian Kevin Hart in renewed controversy over his defunct Oscar hosting gig.
Lemon addressed the spectacle of Hart’s Thursday appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, which has widely been criticized for Hart’s perceived victimhood over backlash to previous homophobic tweets and DeGeneres’ emphatic support of his return to the Oscar job, which many found tone deaf.
“Someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the entire world, he can be a leader … he can help change homophobia in the black community, something Kevin’s old twitter jokes addressed but in the wrong way,” Lemon said.
He then referenced an old tweet from Hart about theoretically disciplining his son for playing with a dollhouse.
“That was a joke to Kevin. The truth is, that is a reality for many little boys in the United States … somewhere a black dad is beating his black son,” Lemon said, referencing a story about his friend and Hollywood creator Lee Daniels. In his series “Empire,” Daniels scripted a real-life moment when his own father threw him into a garbage can as a little boy for wearing a pair of high heels.
“Those views of the LGBT people in the black community have consequences,” Lemon said, calling up stats from the American Center for Progress, like their report that 44% of homeless gay youth in America are black.
Listen to Variety’s exclusive interview with Kevin Hart:
“That’s huge. Remember, black people only make up 12 percent of the U.S. population. Among homeless transgender youth? 62% of them are black. Those kids were likely kicked out of their homes or had to run away because of who they are,” he added.
The anchor surmised that he did not see “any meaningful outreach to the LGBT community. Nothing that you have spoken on,” he said addressing Hart directly. Later in the show, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis appeared and said that repeated invitations to Hart’s representatives were ignored, but the group remains open to working with him.
“For many in the gay community, especially in the black community, the Twitter apologies on ‘Ellen’ have fallen flat,” Lemon continued, noting reactions calling the talk show moment “insincere” and that Hart “somehow turns himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of violent and sometimes deadly homophobia.”