Kevin Hart has responded to critics who dug up his past homophobic comments after the comedian tweeted his support for Jussie Smollett following his alleged hate-crime attack.
Hart shared a lengthy message of encouragement for Smollett one day after the Empire star was beaten in the streets of Chicago by two white men in ski masks allegedly shouting: ‘This is MAGA country.’
His post was quickly met with backlash from fans highlighting the Ride Along star’s history of homophobic jokes and tweets, which recently led to him dropping out as host of The Oscars.
Hart responded to the critics in a tweet Wednesday afternoon, writing: ‘I stand with a man in his time of hurt and need by giving him heart felt support and u take the time to harp on my 10yr past that I have apologized about and moved on from by being a better person.
‘Do you want change? If so I am an example of what u want people to do…CHANGE!’
Smollett, who came out as gay to Ellen in 2015, was jumped by two men as he walking from a local Subway sandwich shop and the two men started yelling homophobic and racial slurs including: ‘Aren’t you the f***ot ‘Empire’ n*****?’
The actor suffered a fractured rib during the attack and is said to have put up a fight as he was beaten, had bleach poured on him and a noose put around his neck.
Thousands of fans, colleagues and friends reached out to Smollett to express their love and support in the wake of the assault.
Among them was Hart, who wrote on Instagram and Twitter: ‘Sending prayers your way @jussiesmollett ….This is unbelievably sad.
‘Why are we going backwards….this is disgusting. We as people have to do better. WTF is going on the world???? Why are we falling in love with hate???? — damn it people….Choose love…I repeat…Choose love. I will forever choose love and I will continue to teach my kids how to do the same. Stand strong brother.’
Dozens of critics responded to the post by reminding Hart of comments he made between 2009 and 2011, in which he joked that if he caught his son playing with his daughter’s dollhouse, he would ‘break it over his head and say in my voice “stop that’s gay”‘.
Ira Madison, a television writer and host of Crooked Media podcast Keep It, tweeted: ‘This is why someone’s jokes about beating their gay son were never funny.’
Filmmaker and son of Sally Field, Sam Greisman wrote: ‘But keep joking about beating up your kid for being gay, Kevin Hart!’
As Ellen DeGeneres supported Hart after dropping out of the gig, which created another controversy, many blasted the both of them for their posts.
Jonathan Van Ness who stars on highly-popular Netflix series Queer Eye tweeted: ‘The hate crime that happened today is an attack on us all. Queer people of color need allies, queer people need allies. Kevin Hart so quiet right now. Where are the allies Ellen? Maga hat wearing people need to be checked – we gotta WAKE UP people, it’s going down.’
Poet Saeed Jones wrote: ‘Given what we’ve seen so far, I fully expect the men who attacked Jussie Smollett to score a sit-down interview with Ellen at some point in the next few weeks. Maybe it will be a roundtable discussion with Kevin Hart.’
Hart was named as the host of the 91st Academy Awards in December. He took proudly to social media afterwards to announce it but his elation was short-lived.
Within days, Twitter users had unearthed his old tweets and demanded that he be removed.
Among them were posts where he labeled people ‘f**gs’ and jokes about what he would do if his son came out as gay.
Despite the backlash, Hart refused to apologize and instead quit over the controversy, blindsiding the Academy and leaving them without a host.
He said the Oscars gave him an ultimatum; apologize or give up the gig. He chose the latter.
Later, he appeared on Ellen where both he and she called for viewers to embrace growth and change.
During their interview, she revealed that she had even called the Academy to ask if Hart could still host the show and said she was told he could.
Ellen, who has long been an icon in the LGBTQ community, was lampooned for throwing her support behind the comedian afterwards.
Hart later came to her defense, saying: ‘When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge.
‘You can’t change without a understanding of what GROWTH means.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, by Megan Sheets