The Stillwater star sparked outrage on social media after telling London's Sunday Times that he "retired" the offensive term. Damon is quoted as saying he "made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter" about what she calls "the 'f-slur for a homosexual.'" Now, the 50-year-old actor insists he's "never called anyone 'f****t'" and implied the conversation is being taken out of context.
"During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my 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," Damon said in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment. "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; 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 continued, "I have never called anyone 'f****t' in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening. 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 actor shares four daughters with wife Luciana, ranging from ages 21 to 10. He didn't divulge which girl he had the conversation with. Damon brought up the discussion when telling the U.K. newspaper the recent cultural shift has taught him to "shut the f*** up more."
"The word that my daughter calls the 'f-slur for a homosexual' was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application," Damon explained. "I made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter. She left the table. 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."
Actor and comedian Billy Eichner was among those who reacted to Damon's interview.
I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced f****t with.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) August 1, 2021