FILM DIRECTOR Lee Daniels says controversial remarks he made about black women were “taken out of context”.
In an interview with US chat show host Larry King earlier this year, The Butler director recalled walking into the Gay Men’s Health Crisis centre in New York whilst doing research for his 2009 film Precious, and being shocked to see a roomful of black women.
The 53-year-old, who is openly gay, told King: “I expected to see a roomful of gay men. There were nothing but women there… black women, with kids. I thought I had walked into the welfare office.”
The remarks earned Daniels a barrage of criticism from black women, who labeled his remark stereotypical and offensive. But the director said he didn’t intend to offend black women.
“[What I said was] was taken out of context,” Daniels told The Voice. “I’m here because of black women – because black men have never accepted me. So my work is for my mum, all of my aunts and my sisters, who all embraced me. I fall to the feet of black women.”
Reflecting on his remarks, Daniels said the main point he’d wanted to get across was the reason so many black women were in the gay men’s health centre was because many of them had been infected with HIV by black men who were too scared to admit they were gay.
“I think, in the heat of the moment, I said something… and what I was really saying was ‘f*** black dudes who are refusing to come out of the closet and who are infecting our women.’ That is what I was getting at.”
But Daniels says that his comments were a reflection of his own childhood.
“When I walked into the gay men’s health crisis centre, it reminded me of what my childhood was like. I grew up in the f*****g welfare office, what’s so embarrassing about that?’
He adds: “What I said…. I think it was just that I said it wrong and it didn’t come out right. But it would have come out funny as s*** if Chris Rock had said it!”
Read the full interview with Lee Daniels in the next issue of The Voice, out on Thursday (Nov 14)