Kevin Hart Steps Down as Oscars Host Amid Outcry over Old Gay Jokes

Kevin Hart attends the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for MTV)
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for MTV

Comedian and A-list actor Kevin Hart announced early Friday morning that he “made the choice to step down” from hosting the 91st Academy Awards amid a backlash over the resurfacing of previous gay jokes and tweets.

“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,” Kevin Hart tweeted. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”

“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,” the Night School star added. “I hope we can meet again.”

Hart’s response to criticism over earlier tweets deemed homophobic by some on Thursday further inflamed a backlash to the comedian two days after he was named host of the upcoming Academy Awards.

On Thursday, Hart wrote on Instagram that critics should “stop being negative” after years-old tweets surfaced in which he used gay slurs. In an accompanying video, a shirtless Hart lounging in bed warily said he wasn’t going to “let the craziness frustrate me.”

“I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve? I don’t know what to tell you,” said Hart, who added, in all-caps: “I love everybody.”

Hart has since deleted some of the anti-gay tweets, mostly dated from 2009-2011. But they had already been screen-captured and been shared online. In 2011, he wrote in a since-deleted tweet: “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.”

Hart’s attitudes about homosexuality were also a well-known part of his stand-up act. In the 2010 special Seriously Funny, he said “one of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.”

“Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, do what you want to do, but me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will,” Hart said.

GLAAD, the advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, said Thursday that it has reached out to Oscars broadcaster ABC, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts, and Sciences and Hart’s management to “discuss Kevin’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record.”

Comedian and actor Billy Eichner was among those on social media who were disappointed with Hart’s response.

“This is not good. A simple, authentic apology showing any bit of understanding or remorse would have been so simple,” Eichner said. “Like I tweeted a few weeks ago, Hollywood still has a real problem with gay men. On the surface it may not look like it. Underneath, it’s far more complicated.”

The film academy on Tuesday announced Hart as host to its February ceremony. Representatives for the academy and for ABC didn’t respond to messages Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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