The Motion Picture Academy faces a new public relations crisis over its choice of Kevin Hart as this year's Oscars host as old tweets, in which Hart expressed anti-gay sentiments and used homophobic terminology and slurs, have resurfaced.
In one 2011 tweet, the comedian and movie star wrote, "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.'" In another from 2010, Hart says someone's profile pic looks "like a gay bill board for AIDS." And in another written in 2009, he calls someone a "fat faced fag."
Those tweets and many more like them were up as recently as Tuesday, the day Hart was announced as host of the 91st Academy Awards. But as word of them began to spread in the days following, they began to disappear.
The Academy did not respond to several requests from The Hollywood Reporter to comment on the controversy.
Nevertheless, the tweets drew condemnation from the likes of actor-comedian Billy Eichner, who tweeted, "You can tell its not just a joke — there's real truth, anger & fear behind these. I hope Kevin's thinking has evolved since 2011."
Journalist Mark Harris went even further, tweeting the choice of Hart as host was "out-of-sync for a year in which Rami Malek, Melissa McCarthy, Olivia Colman, Mahershala Ali, Richard E. Grant, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Lucas Hedges could all get nominated for playing LBGTQ characters."
This is not the first time Hart's thoughts on LGBT people have caused controversy. A 2011 standup routine about his then 3-year-old son having a "gay moment" — "You've got to nip it in the bud!" he warned the audience — was criticized as promoting homophobic and dangerous parenting, according to The Guardian.
Hart told Rolling Stone in 2015 that he wouldn't tell the joke again, "because when I said it, the times weren't as sensitive as they are now."
The Academy has previously faced heat over anti-gay rhetoric in late 2011, when Brett Ratner resigned as producer of the 84th Academy Awards after saying "rehearsal is for fags" in a public Q&A for his film Tower Heist.
Ratner's exit led to the departure of Eddie Murphy, that year's announced host, who stepped down in solidarity. (Billy Crystal filled in.)
GLAAD has reached out to ABC, the Academy and Kevin Hart’s management to "discuss his rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage," said Rich Ferraro, chief communications officer for GLAAD. They have not yet responded.
And Pose star Indya Moore — whose groundbreaking trans series drew Golden Globe nominations for best drama and best actor (for Billy Porter) — penned a lengthy Twitter thread that laid into Hart for "sexualizing" his son in his 2011 routine, adding, "'Your choice to prevent' your child from being 'gay' is fear driven. You ARE homophobic Kevin."
"You @KevinHart4real are NOT FIT a model, or representative to Host for the @TheAcademy which CELEBRATES & WELCOMES talent of all genders, sexualities, & ethnicities," Moore continued. Pose executive producer Ryan Murphy retweeted several of the tweets.
Hart addressed the controversy in a defiant statement posted to Instagram on Thursday. In the black-and-white video, Hart, lying in bed shirtless, says, "I swear, man, our world is becoming beyond crazy. I'm not going to let the craziness frustrate me or anger me, especially when I worked hard to get to the mental space that I am at now."
Several hours later, Hart posted a second Instagram video in which he said he has refused a demand from the Academy to apologize. Speaking from Sydney, Australia, where he is currently on tour, Hart said he received a call from the Academy giving him an ultimatum: apologize for his old tweets or step down as Oscars host.
"I passed. The reason I passed is because I've addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up," he said.
"Regardless, to the Academy, I'm thankful for the opportunity, if it goes away, no harm, no foul," Hart added.
Just about two hours later, though, Hart, in a tweet, formally stepped down from the Oscar hosting gig. "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. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past," Hart wrote.
He added seconds later, "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. I hope we can meet again."
Ironically, in giving up the hosting spot, Hart actually offered the apology that earlier he had refused to provide.
Dec. 6, 4:00 p.m. Updated with Hart's Instagram statement.
Dec. 6, 8:10 p.m. Updated with Hart's second Instagram statement.
Dec. 6, 9:30 p.m. Updated with Hart's tweet in which he stepped from hosting Oscars.