Some of my best friends are white privileged straight men: Ellen DeGeneres defends Matt Damon

What is it about some white celebrity lesbians that they feel the need to defend white privileged celebrity straight men when they say things that are simply homophobic about gay, bisexual or queer men?

First of all, you have Jodie Foster defending Mel Gibson on any number of occasions. Given Foster’s own ambiguous relationship to the LGBT+ community (this is the woman who made The Silence of the Lambs after all) that’s perhaps not so surprising, if disappointing.

But now you have Ellen DeGeneres having Matt Damon appear on her show to justify (not defend) his remarks that actors should preserve an air of “mystery” in their private lives. This was in relation to a Guardian interview where homosexuality and gay actors had come up. Damon claimed, and DeGeneres supported him, that his words were taken out of context by the Internet to suggest that gay, bi and queer actors should stay in the closet.

Let’s be clear. Matt Damon does not preserve an air of mystery in relation to his own life when talking to the media. He discusses his politics, his sex life, his relationship with his wife, his relationship with Ben Affleck (he endlessly discusses his heterosexual bromance to tell us it’s not a physical relationship); in fact, Matt Damon never stops talking about heterosexual Matt Damon. ‘Mystery’ has been code for nearly 5 decades for the closet as any first-year sex and gender undergraduate could tell Matt Damon.

But what has changed over the last five decades is that some actors have come out in Hollywood. Not many, but a few. Yet DeGeneres didn’t challenge Damon for telling these brave pioneers that they should preserve their ‘mystery’. Instead, she made jokes about his and Ben Affleck’s heterosexual relationship that actually bordered on homophobic in itself. The clip is here

It was difficult to work out which was more offensive – Matt Damon’s use of the word ‘mystery’ or Ellen DeGeneres defence of him.

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