Marketing executive Paul Rivera asked Lil Nas X, 20, about his decision on the Tuesday, September 3, episode of HBO’s The Shop: Uninterrupted. Before the “Old Town Road” rapper had a chance to respond, Hart, 40, blurted out, “He said he was gay, so what?”
Lil Nas X (real name Montero Lamar Hill) then explained that he was not “forced” to come out but wanted to do so because he had been taught “to hate that s–t” growing up.
“Hate what? Hate what?” the stand-up comedian interrupted again.
“Homosexuality, gay people,” the “Panini” singer said.
“Why?” Hart asked. “Why are you growing up to hate it?”
“Come on, now,” Lil Nas X responded. “If you’re really from the hood, you know.”
The Georgia-born hitmaker then clarified that he was not trying to seek attention by coming out at a high point in his career. (“Old Town Road” became the longest-running No. 1 in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in late July.)
“If you’re doing this while you’re at the top, you know it’s for real,” he said. “It’s showing that [sexuality] doesn’t really matter.”
Hart’s reaction sparked an angry reaction from many social media users, with some accusing the Ride Along actor of dismissing or gaslighting Lil Nas X.
“Kevin Hart acting like he doesn’t know why Lil Nas X would be scared to come out is like someone who stole the thing you lost helping you look for it,” fellow comedian Phillip Henry tweeted.
Another Twitter user wrote, “‘He said he was gay. So what!’ Kevin Hart knows exactly what the ‘so what’ is here and why a young black boy would closet his sexuality until he believed it was safe. Why not simply listen, give @LilNasX the space and deference to tell his own story.”
A third viewer tweeted, “He answered the question like it was directed to him let a grown man answer his own damn questions Kevin.”
Others applauded Lil Nas X for having a mature response to Hart’s remarks. “Lil Nas handled this so well. Kevin still has work to do,” a fourth Twitter user wrote. Another added, “I respect lil Nas x for not launching Kevin Hart across the room. How are you going to act like homophobia in the black community doesn’t exist when you dropped out of hosting the Oscars last year because you were being homophobic.”
The backlash over the pre-taped episode came after Hart was hospitalized with major back injuries that he sustained in a car accident in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 1. His wife, Eniko Hart, said the next day that he is “going to be just fine.”