Comedian Kevin Hart stepped down as host of the Oscars after backlash for his homophobic tweets. The decision came just hours after he posted a defiant video on Instagram in which he refused to apologize.
"I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past," Hart tweeted.
The Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle star added, "I'm sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again."
The stunning development came less than a few hours after Hart posted a video on Instagram, in which he refused to apologize for controversial anti-gay jokes he made on Twitter several years ago. In the caption to the video, Hart asked people to "Stop looking for reasons to be negative."
"Stop looking for reasons to be negative... Stop searching for reasons to be angry," Hart wrote. "I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy people... there is nothing that you can do to chance that... NOTHING. I work hard on a daily basis to spread positivity to all... with that being said. If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I'm almost 40 years old and I'm in love with the man that I am becoming."
On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced that Hart, one of the most popular comedians in the world, would host the Oscars in February. Almost immediately after the announcement came, Hart's controversial comments and past resurfaced.
On Wednesday, The Guardian's Benjamin Lee noticed Hart was deleting years-old offensive homophobic Twitter jokes. In one, Hart joked that someone looked like "a gay bill board for AIDS" and called another person a "FAT F–." Others noticed Hart's frequent use of gay slurs like "f–" and "h–." In one tweet, Hart wrote, "I just saw the biggest gay guy ever! This n– looked like hulf (sic) hogan with heels on! I can’t lie I got scared!!!!!!”
In 2010, Hart also infamously joked during a stand-up performance that his fear was his son "growing up and being gay."
After the tweets resurfaced, GLAAD told BuzzFeed they reached out to the Academy but received no immediate response.
"GLAAD reached out to ABC, The Academy and Kevin Hart’s management to discuss his rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage. They have not yet responded," the group said.0comments
In December 2017, Hart also admitted to cheating on his wife, Eniko Parrish, while she was pregnant with his youngest son. In his memoir I Can't Make This Up, Hart wrote that he got violent with his first wife, Torrei Hart.
The 91st Academy Awards are scheduled for Feb. 24.