Matt Damon has issued a statement denying he has ever used a homophobic slur in his personal life.
In the interview, the actor recalled a story about a recent meal with his family, when he used what the publication noted is “the most taboo term for gay people” much to the dismay of one of his children, who are aged 15, 12 and 10.
“The word that my daughter calls the ‘f-slur for a homosexual’ was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application,” he told the newspaper. “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!’” he continued, referencing the much-derided 2003 film. “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.”
His decision to share the anecdote prompted widespread criticism and has led to the Good Will Hunting actor to issue a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
“This conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening,” he explained. “I do not use slurs of any kind.”
The actor said that during the interview, he recalled a discussion with his daughter where he “attempted to contextualise for her the progress that has been made – though by no means completed” since his early days growing up in Boston, when as a child he “heard the word ‘f**’ 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 explained. “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 normalised it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
He 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.”
The actor added he has “learned that eradicating prejudice requires active movement toward justice rather than finding passive comfort in imagining myself ‘one of the good guys’”, and that he understood why “[his] statement led many to assume the worst” given that “open hostility against the LGBTQ+ community is still not uncommon”.
He concluded: “To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”
After his comments hit the headlines, the American media monitoring organisation GLAAD issued a statement on Monday.
“The conversations that have arisen after Matt Damon’s original interview and subsequent remarks today are an important reminder that this word, or any word that aims to disparage and disrespect LGBTQ people, has no place in mainstream media, social media, classrooms, workplaces, and beyond,” wrote GLAAD spokesperson Anthony Allen Ramos.
“There needs to be accountability at a time when anti-LGBTQ slurs remain rampant today and can fuel discrimination and stereotypes, especially when used by those outside of the community to defame or describe LGBTQ people.”
Useful websites and helplines:
London Lesbian & Gay switchboard (LLGS) is a free confidential support & information helpline for LGBT communities throughout the UK | 0300 330 0630
Manchester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard is a free support, information and referral service for the Manchester and North-West area | 0161 235 8000
Stonewall for more information on other LGBT services and helplines | 08000 502020
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.