by Leah Waldron
Last week, Paris Hilton became public frenemy #1 to the LGBT community after she was caught (by a New York cab driver) calling gay men “disgusting” and claiming that they all have AIDS. The hotel heiress also dished on the gay dating app Grindr, which started the possibly alcohol-induced rant:
Male gay friend: “Say I log into Grindr, someone that’s on Grindr can be in that building and it tells you all the locations of where they are and you can be like, ‘Yo, you wanna f**k?’ and he might be on like, the sixth floor.”
Paris Hilton: “Ewww. Eww. To get f**ked? Gay guys are the horniest people in the world… They’re disgusting. Dude, most of them probably have AIDS…I would be so scared if I were a gay guy. You’ll like, die of AIDS.”
Not wanting to lose her gay fans, and perhaps because she felt true remorse, Hilton apologized via GLAAD with a heartfelt letter. She tended to ramble on a bit, but here is the gist:
“Gay people are the strongest and most inspiring people I know…As anyone close to me knows, I always have been and always will be a huge supporter of the gay community. I am so sorry and so upset that I caused pain to my gay friends, fans and their families with the comments heard this morning…It is the last thing that I would ever want to do and I cannot put into words how much I wish I could take back every word…”
Hilton’s apology sounded pretty genuine, and I tend to believe her (who among hasn’t said something stupid to a friend in a cab?), but I couldn’t help wondering if Hilton really thinks that all gay men are disgusting, AIDS-infected, Grindr-using sex addicts. It’s a difficult statement to “take back,” even if you coat an apology with a lot of self-deprecation and head-hanging sincerity.
And it’s not the first time a celebrity has been caught on tape with an anti-gay rant, only to turn around and blame it on a heat-of-the-moment lapse in judgment. Singer Cee Lo Green took to Twitter to apologize for calling an unsatisfied fan “gay,” and CNN analyst Roland Martin apologized for telling SuperBowl fans to “smack the ish out” of any man who buys David Beckham’s H & M underwear. Not to mention post anti-gay rant apologies from country music star Blake Shelton; comedian Adam Corolla; “Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander; and “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan. Is the homophobic rant the new celebrity anti-Semitic rant (see: Mel Gibson) or celebrity racist rant (see: Michael Richards)?
As Hilton’s gay fans were still on the fence about forgiveness, bisexual novelist Bret Easton Ellis decided to take some of the heat (that, and he just loves media attention). The “American Psycho” writer, who is known for being a bit anti-gay, himself (last month he was caught on Twitter rambling about Matt Bomer being too gay to portray the lead in “50 Shades of Grey”), defended Hilton with the following Tweet: “I kind of agree with Paris Hilton… As someone who has used Grindr? Paris Hilton isn’t that far off.”
I’m sure that, as bad off as Paris Hilton may be in the eyes of the gay community, even she would prefer that Easton Ellis didn’t come to her rescue.
One thing is for sure, when Paris Hilton apologized for her anti-gay rant, it sounded more sincere than any apology I’ve heard from a celebrity, and I have to give her *some credit for that. Considering that she was in the cab with a gay friend, I think her statement was more hyperbolic than homophobic. It’s possible that, like her “we’re all ni**as” comment in 2007, Hilton was just talking to hear herself speak, and not to make a derogatory statement about the LGBT community as a whole.
And finally, Hilton didn’t apologize on Twitter (which is super lame by the way), but on GLAAD’s website—which, like Jason Alexander’s short-story-length apology on his blog—was more meaningful than a 140-character shout-out.
So I’ve decided to forgive Hilton, at least for now. I’d rather concentrate on real homophobes that actually have some power over the LGBT community, like Mitt Romney.
I’m still waiting for his apology.