Comedian Kevin Hart was criticized on Wednesday for apparently improperly reacting to singer and rapper Lil Nas X discussing why he came out as gay when he did.
Prominent blue checkmarks on Twitter accused Hart of homophobia and gaslighting for suggesting it was not a big deal for the entertainer to come out. The criticism seemed to be fueled by old tweets from Hart deemed “homophobic” by some in the media last year. The jokes effectively forced the comedian into backing out of hosting the Academy Awards.
The conversation surrounding Lil Nas’ sexuality was sparked during an episode of HBO’s “The Shop: Uninterrupted” after an inquiry from series writer Paul Rivera.
“With all that early success, you felt it was necessary to make an announcement,” Rivera said to Lil Nas, alluding to the rapper coming out as gay.
“He said he was gay. So what!” Hart quickly interjected. “Who cares?”
“It’s not about who cares — that’s actually my question,” Rivera addressed Hart. “Why did he feel that it was necessary to come out and say that?”
“It’s not like being forced, it’s just that … I’m growing up to hate this s***,” the rapper responded.
“Hate what?” questioned Hart.
“Homosexuality, gay people,” responded Lil Nas.
“Why?” Hart asked.
“Come on, now,” Lil Nas rebuffed the comedian. “If you[‘re] really from the hood, you know.”
“For me, the cool dude with the song, on top of everything to say this,” the 20-year-old continued. “Any other time I’m doing this for attention in my eyes but if you’re doing this while you’re at the top, you know it’s for real, and it’s showing that it doesn’t really matter.”
“Whew, the gaslighting from Kevin Hart. I keep telling y’all; trash in, trash out,” said poet and BuzzFeed executive editor of culture Saeed Jones in reaction to the exchange. “Anyway, I’m so proud of [Lil Nas X]. His calm confidence is impressive.”
Editor-at-large of The Daily Beast Goldie Taylor posted: “‘He said he was gay. So what!’ Kevin Hart knows exactly what the ‘so what’ is here and why a young black boy would closet his sexuality until he believed it was safe. Why not simply listen, give [Lil Nas X] the space and deference to tell his own story…”
“Kevin Hart acting like he doesn’t know why Lil Nas X would be scared to come out is like someone who stole the thing you lost helping you look for it,” wrote Phillip Henry, a writer and comedian.
“Kevin hart is shocked — SHOCKED — to learn that homophobia exists/there is gambling going on in this establishment,” BuzzFeed’s David Mack sarcastically wrote.