Kevin Hart is indicative of Black America’s toxic masculinity

Kevin Hart. MGN Online

While I will continue to argue that the African American community doesn’t have a patent on homophobia, it does, however, have a problem with it. And, comedian Kevin Hart is another glaring example of the malady.

Just days after taking the coveted post to host the 91st Academy Awards, Hart stepped down rather than offer an apology for his 2011 homophobic tweets.

“I chose to pass, I passed on the apology,” Hart said in a home video he made for the public. “The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times… I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”

During a 2011 stand-up routine, Hart shared how he would react to his three-year-old son having a “gay moment”: “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.’” [sic]

Hart feels he has since evolved on the issue of LGBTQ sensibilities to the point where no apology is needed. Consequently, a forced and heartless one was offered. As one who has purportedly evolved on LGBTQ issues, Hart squandered his elevated profile to educate the public on how his evolution came about. Although Hart is now a crossover phenom, he still plays largely to a Black audience, a demographic group — of young, old, church and unchurched — that is still unevolved and not completely woke to the deleterious effects of trans/homophobia on its community.

It’s not easy for any person of African descent to be LGBTQ in our Black communities, but our transgender brothers and sisters might feel the most discrimination. The Black trans death rate is as meaningless to the larger Black community as it is to the larger society. Many trans reside in Black and Latinx communities, and their lives are in as much danger in their communities for “walking while trans” as they are for “walking while Black or Brown” in America.

And, the fact that these Black and Latinx communities, especially the churches, would fail to annually honor Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international event memorializing transgender people murdered because of their gender identities and expressions, like they do MLK Day and Black History Month, highlights whose lives matter.

While it’s troubling that Hart chose to walk away from hosting the 2019 Academy Awards as an aggrieved victim rather than offer an apology, it is also evident he gleaned very little, if anything, from a similar incident with his comedic pal Tracy Morgan.

In 2011, Morgan, then actor on NBC’s 30 Rock, went on a homophobic rant during a stand-up performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Ten. Morgan’s “intended” jokes about LGBTQ people were insulting jabs. My son “better talk to me like a man and not in a gay voice or I’ll pull out a knife and stab that little N-word to death,” Morgan told his audience.

Unlike Hart, however, Morgan publicly expressed his mea culpas as part and parcel of his forgiveness tour and he spoke out in support of LGBTQ equality.

These homophobic rants are about a toxic hypermasculinity of Black manhood. Hart, like Morgan, and many of us who have grown up in communities of African descent, cannot escape the cultural, personal, interpersonal, and institutional indoctrinations in which homo/transphobia are constructed and viewed.

The community’s expression of its intolerance of LGBTQ people is easily seen along gender lines. For example, sisters mouth off about LGBTQ people while brothers get both — verbally and physically — violent with us.

I ask, in my brothers’ cultivating images of strong Black men, can the brotherhood also include the diversity of their sexual orientations and gender expression?

Many feel there’s a double standard when it comes to homo/transphobic statements blurted out by public figures and artists versus racists statements. For example, let’s not forget about the racist rant in 2006 by Michael Richards, who played the lovable and goofy character Kramer on the TV sitcom Seinfeld. His repetitive use of the N-word in the context of supposed humor cost him his career.

However, many Black comedians point out a double standard when White comedians make homophobic jokes with no backlash from the public. Actor and rapper Nick Cannon helped shed light on the double standard, reposting homophobic tweets from comedians Chelsea Handler, Amy Schumer, and Sarah Silverman in defense of Hart.

Some of us who live at the intersections of these communities are left to choose between standing with our Black homophobic brothers and sisters versus standing with our racist White LGBTQ ones. I, however, choose to do neither in order to not only free myself from these “isms,” but to also give them the challenge to free themselves.