Matt Damon is insisting that he has never used the “f-slur” following backlash from a recent interview.
In an article posted by the U.K.’s Sunday Times, the “Stillwater” star was quoted saying he had stopped using the offensive term “months ago” when his daughter wrote him a “treatise” on “how that word is dangerous.”
But in a statement to Variety, Damon said that he has never used the word in his “personal life” and does not “use slurs of any kind.” He also affirmed that he understands why the interview “led many to assume the worst.”
“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 in the statement. “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,” Damon continued. “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.”
In the Times interview, Damon was quoted saying that he had recently “retired” the offensive term after he made a joke that caused his daughter to write him a “long, beautiful treatise.”
“The word that my daughter calls the ‘f-slur for a homosexual’ was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application,” he told the newspaper. “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’!’ 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 found himself trending on Twitter as the interview was shared online. “I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced f****t with,” comedian Billy Eichner tweeted.
GLAAD issued a response to Damon’s statement, writing: “The conversations that have arisen after Matt Damon’s original interview and subsequent remarks today are an important reminder that this word, or any word that aims to disparage and disrespect LGBTQ people, has no place in mainstream media, social media, classrooms, workplaces, and beyond,” said Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s Head of Talent. “There needs to be accountability at a time when anti-LGBTQ slurs remain rampant today and can fuel discrimination and stereotypes, especially when used by those outside of the community to defame or describe LGBTQ people.”