Damon shared with the interviewer a lesson his daughter taught him several months ago: that he could no longer use the « f-word » as a slur for gay people.
« 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 told The Sunday Times in a recent interview. « 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. »
USA TODAY has reached out to Damon’s rep for comment.
We talked with him too:Matt Damon talks ‘Stillwater,’ parenting and writing again with Ben Affleck
Many on social media – myself included – called out the star for his astonishingly ignorant behavior.
« Matt Damon’s teen daughter told him f****t is a homophobic slur and to stop using it, » comedian Jenny Johnson wrote. « Matt Damon who works in Hollywood. Matt Damon who went to Harvard. Matt Damon who was in ‘BEYOND THE CANDELABRA’. I’m now worried what else she’s gonna have to teach him. »
Not to mention the fact the word has a deadly connotation, too: « Countless gay men have been attacked, beaten and even killed with that word being the last thing they hear, but sure, go Matt, » Twitter user @TJ_Knight wrote.
Straight and cisgender people often wonder why the LGBTQ community doesn’t shut up about their queerness.
To those people, let me say: This is why.
If someone as high-profile as Damon, with unfettered access to educational materials, has just learned that you can’t say the « f-word » anymore – and that you shouldn’t have said it at all in the first place – what stops anyone else?
Statistics bear the importance of promoting acceptance. Queer kids contemplate killing themselves at alarming rates. According to The Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ young people « seriously considered » suicide this past year alone. That’s nearly half of LGBTQ youth. Read that back: Nearly. Half. And more than half of them were transgender and nonbinary.
Every time someone slips in a slur like the « f-word, » they should stare at that statistic until it sinks in.
I’ve been lucky enough that no straight person has called me the « f-word » to my face (who knows, though, it could happen tomorrow). But I’m all too familiar with slurs.
I’ll never forget the time when two boys replaced the words to « Play that Funky Music » with « play that funky music, queer boy » to me on a Bar Mitzvah dance floor. I’ll never forget the time when I was walking with a straight friend in Ocean City, Maryland, and a stranger shouted at us from his car, « Are you guys queers? » It’s an inevitability. It will happen again.
So to Matt Damon – or anyone, really – I say this: Educate yourself. Donate to LGBTQ causes. Talk to leaders in the LGBTQ community. Attend events. Hell, watch « The Talented Mr. Ripley » again, you know, the one you starred in. Doesn’t get more homoerotic than that.
Don’t want to get canceled? Be accountable for your actions.
And for the love of everything, think before you speak.