Matt Damon has revealed that he stopped using what his daughter calls the “f-slur for a homosexual,” after a recent joke from the actor prompted his daughter to write “a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous.”
In an interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Times published today, Damon recalls how the offensive term for gay people was “commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application.”
But when he used the term in a joke “months ago,” she made him see that he made a mistake.
“I made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter. She left the table,” Damon recalls. “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.”
The day after the interview was published, Damon released a statement in which he offered additional context and explanation for the story.
In the statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Damon says in the interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Times he was recalling a discussion he had with his daughter ” where I attempted to contextualize for her the progress that has been made – though by no means completed – since I was growing up in Boston and, as a child, heard the word “f*g” used on the street before I knew what it even referred to. I explained that that word was used constantly and casually and was even a line of dialogue in a movie of mine as recently as 2003.”
He goes on to say, “She in turn expressed incredulity that there could ever have been a time where that word was used unthinkingly. To my admiration and pride, she was extremely articulate about the extent to which that word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalized it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
Damon adds that he has not used the slur in his own life and stands with the LGBTQ+ community.
“I have never called anyone “f****t” in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening,” he says. “I do not use slurs of any kind. I have learned that eradicating prejudice requires active movement toward justice rather than finding passive comfort in imagining myself ‘one of the good guys’. And given that open hostility against the LGBTQ+ community is still not uncommon, I understand why my statement led many to assume the worst. To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”
The anecdote came up as Damon, currently starring in the Tom McCarthy-directed thriller Stillwater, talked with the Sunday Times about changes in modern masculinity, and he looks back on comments he made about sexual misconduct claims against Harvey Weinstein.
After saying, “As the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night,” he was criticized, with commentators saying anyone, regardless of whether you are a father of daughters, should be offended.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Damon says, “I understand. It’s a fair point. Anybody should be offended by that behavior.”
And he goes on to reflect on how what he says in interviews might be parsed now more than it was two decades ago.
“Twenty years ago, the best way I can put it is that the journalist listened to the music more than the lyrics [of an interview]. Now your lyrics are getting parsed, to pull them out of context and get the best headline possible,” he says. “Everyone needs clicks. Before it didn’t really matter what I said, because it didn’t make the news. But maybe this shift is a good thing. So I shut the f— up more.”
Aug. 2, 4:20 p.m. This story has been updated with a statement from Damon contextualizing and explaining the “f-slur” story.