Kevin Hart says Wanda Sykes helped him understand why his homophobic jokes were harmful

Kevin Hart; Wanda Sykes
Kevin Hart; Wanda Sykes

Kevin Hart is speaking out on his years-old controversy regarding homophobic jokes — and how he finally figured out why people were so upset.

The comedian has previously come under fire on multiple occasions for homophobic tweets and jokes he made over a decade ago. One such "joke" that people found particularly upsetting involved claiming if he ever caught his son playing with a dollhouse, he would "break it over his head & say n my voice 'stop that's gay.'"

He also admitted in his 2010 comedy special Seriously Funny that having a gay son was one of his "biggest fears."

"I'm not homophobic," Hart claimed at the time. "Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will."

Although he addressed the controversy several times over the years, people were frustrated that it never seemed to include an apology (even though, at one point, he claimed otherwise) or an understanding of the real-world harm comments like that can cause. The best we got for a long time was that he "wouldn't tell that joke today, because ... the times weren't as sensitive as they are now," during a 2015 Rolling Stone interview.

Things reached a fever pitch in late 2018/early 2019 when Hart was set to host the Oscars, and his remarks resurfaced again. He ultimately stepped down and spent weeks insisting people were choosing to be offended, going on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to complain about folks dredging up the past, and offering an apology that included saying it isn't his "dream to be an ally for the LGBT community."

The entire situation left many people on edge — including those who genuinely wanted Hart to apologize and mean it rather than face the wrath of internet mobs, as he seemed to keep focusing on throughout the debacle.

This year, he's already spoken about taking the time to learn from all of that, previously telling the Wall Street Journal that he "got a crash-course ... one that was necessary and needed."

Over the weekend, the topic came up again during a 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper. This time, Hart shared something fellow comedian Wanda Sykes had told him that seems to have resonated in a way the internet chatter did not.

"Wanda Sykes said, 'There's people that are being hurt today because of comments like the ones that you made then, and there's people that were saying it's OK to make those comments today based off of what you did then,'" he recalled.

"It was presented to me in a way where I couldn't ignore that," he continued. "So in those moments of despair, great understanding and education can come out of it, if you're given the opportunity."