American comedian and actor Kevin Hart has quit as the host of next year’s Oscars because of a furore over past homophobic tweets and jokes.
It was only on Tuesday when Hart announced that he’d scored the high profile job, which he described as an “opportunity of a lifetime.”
However, his homophobic Twitter posts, dating from 2009 to 2011, and stand-up routines were soon shared on social media, prompting a backlash against him.
In one tweet, Hart wrote: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.” He also used anti-gay slurs in some posts and joked about someone looking like a “gay bill board for AIDS.”
In a 2010 stand-up routine, he said: “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
On Thursday, LGBTQ media lobby group GLAAD tweeted that it had “reached out to @ABCNetwork, @TheAcademy and @KevinHart4real’s management to discuss Kevin’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage.”
Then, on Friday, Hart took to Instagram and Twitter to reveal that he was quitting after being asked by the Academy to apologise or drop out.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” said Hart.
“I’m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
In an Instagram video, Hart said he would not apologise (although he did so so on Twitter). “I chose to pass, I passed on the apology. The reason I chose to pass is because I’ve addressed this several times, this is not the first time this has come up, I’ve addressed this… I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life,” he said.