How times change! In late 2011 Rush Hour and X-Men 3 director Brett Ratner was set to produce the Oscars, but then he said in a screening Q&A, “Rehearsal? What’s that? Rehearsal’s for fags.”
It set off a storm of controversy over his use of the homophobic word and resulted in Brett resigning from his Oscar position, getting severely criticised by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and writing an open letter apologising, saying “So many artists and craftspeople in our business are members of the LGBT community, and it pains me deeply that I may have hurt them.”
At the time GLAAD responded by saying, “This apology is a good start, but we’re working with Ratner’s people for more action, to clearly send a message to Hollywood that the anti-gay slurs used by bullies and bigots have no place in the world of entertainment, or anywhere else.”
Ratner promised to further engage with the the LGBT community, which resulted in him partnering with Tom Ford and GLSEN for a public-service announcement addressing the use of anti-gay language among teens. He also agreed to shoot a video campaign for GLAAD to promote equality for gay and trans people. That PSA is now ready to be launched and GLAAD has decided that Ratner is reformed enough that they’re handing him an award. He’ll be handed an Ally Award at their Media Award ceremony in NYC on March 16th, where his PSAs will also be launched.
The ‘Coming Out for Equality PSA’ series that Ratner worked on features celebrities like Jackie Chan, Charlie Sheen, Giada De Laurentiis and Pauley Perrette talking about their support of the LGBT community.
“Brett Ratner’s dedication and leadership will inspire countless people to speak out in support of LGBT friends, family, neighbors and children,” says GLAAD President Herndon Graddick in a statement. “From high-school jocks to faith leaders, those who follow Brett’s lead are admired and heralded, while anti-LGBT bullies are increasingly ridiculed and marginalized.”
Some have welcomed the news, saying it shows the LGBT community is ready to forgive and recognise those who’ve changed and now work for equality. However others have questioned whether it’s a slightly more calculated quid pro quo – essentially Ratner saying ‘I’ll make a high profile campaign for you, if you publicly recognise me and therefore help de-bigot me in the public consciousness’.
Perhaps sensing some would question why Ratner would get an ally award just 16 months after he got into trouble for using the word ‘fag’, Graddick commented to THR, “Out of anybody I’ve ever worked with, Brett has been the most humble and willing to put his money and actions where his mouth is… In terms of an ally and what someone can do after an incident that was negative like that, I’ve never worked with someone who displayed such genuine interest in helping the community. There’s no one who deserves this more than Brett does.”