The actor has a persona of an enlightened person so it was surprising to read an interview in which he claimed that he had just recently stopped using a slur term for gays after his daughter had upbraided him about it. His defense for using it was that the term “was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application”.
He said his daughter had taken him to task after he used the word in a joke at a dinner party. “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,” he said in the interview.
Damon, who in 2017 apologized for saying sexual assault was “a spectrum of behavior” after a similar outcry, immediately came under fire from LGBTQ+ activists.
The admission is quite astonishing. If he was expecting praise for his newfound understanding, he was mistaken. The general reaction has been “What took you so long?”
Damon was born in 1970, one year after the Stonewall riots which brought to the public’s attention the way that the LGBT community was harassed by the police and the public and acted as a catalyst for the advancing of gay rights around the world. By the time he was a ‘kid’ of (say) ten years of age, the movement for LGBT rights was well underway. But even if he missed it and his family and peers did not correct him as a child, surely by the time he reached adulthood and entered the workplace he had to personally know gay people and be aware that such slurs are hurtful and not acceptable? We are long past the stage when people can use their childhood as an excuse for obliviousness about things like this.
The person who comes out well is his daughter for rebuking him. The only positive thing that emerges about Damon from this episode is that he raised a child who is willing and able to challenge parental authority when they say do something wrong. Most of the time children are more enlightened about changing social mores than their parents and we would do well to listen to them.