Matt Damon says he has never personally used gay slur

image source, Reuters
image captionDamon recently signed autographs at the Cannes Film Festival

Actor Matt Damon has insisted he has never used a gay slur "in my personal life" after being criticised for saying he'd only recently "retired" the word.

The Hollywood star told The Sunday Times his daughter had rebuked him for using what she called the "f-slur for a homosexual" in a joke "months ago".

In a follow-up statement, the Oscar winner stressed that he had never used the insult against anyone off screen.

"This conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening," he said.

"I do not use slurs of any kind."

'That word is dangerous'

Damon sparked anger for the original interview, in which he told an anecdote suggesting he had used the word until recently.

He told the newspaper it "was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application".

He continued: "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."

After being criticised for his apparent recent casual use of the insult, he sent a lengthy statement to US media.

image source, Reuters
image captionHe gave the original interview to promote his new film Stillwater

"During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my daughter where I attempted to contextualise 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," he said.

"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 normalised it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice."

He continued: "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."

'Matt Damon is dumb'

The actor had come in for strong criticism before releasing his clarification. US comedian, actor and writer Travon Free suggested that his realisation had come too late.

"So Matt Damon just figured out 'months ago', by way of a 'treatise' from a child, that he's not supposed to say the [F-]word," posted the writer, who identifies as bi or queer. "Months ago... Months ago."

"I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced [the word] with," wondered actor Billy Eichner, apparently unconvinced by Damon's story.

Star Trek actor George Takei, one of the entertainment industry's most high-profile gay actors, wrote: "To be honest, I was privately insulting Matt Damon until a few months ago, too, so…"

And singer Molly Lambert simply called Damon "dumb".

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It's not the first time Damon has landed in hot water. In 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement, Damon told reporters that inappropriate sexual behaviour needed to be seen as existing on a "spectrum".

He recently apologised for the comments, admitting he had been "tone-deaf".

"Like everybody, I'm a prisoner of my subjective experience and that leads to having blind spots," he told The New York Times.

"Me more than most given the experience that I've had as a white male American movie star. It's a very rarefied air. I don't even know where my blind spots begin and end.

"So, yes, I was and am tone-deaf. I do try my best not to be."

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