Celebrities

Dom Sherwood’s Use of a Homophobic Slur and Why It Matters

Dom Sherwood is a British actor who is best known for his role as Jace Wayland in the Freeform fantasy series Shadowhunters. One of his co-stars is Matthew Daddario, who plays the openly gay Alec Lightwood. Knowing this simple fact, one might assume that a series which includes one of the most popular LGBTQ+ couples on TV right now would have an educated and inclusive cast, right?

On Tuesday, Matthew was doing a Facebook livestream where he was answering questions and interacting with fans. Through the first few minutes, Matthew was calm and enjoying himself, but the livestream was cut short when Dom entered the trailer. As a viewer, you hear a brief voice and then, clear as day, “Sup f*g.”

Matthew’s initial reaction was to put his hands near his phone and make a noise to warn Dom, but of course, he didn’t take the hint and continued talking. What he says is unclear, but Matthew is clearly shocked as he shouts, “Stop, stop!” When asked why he is being so defensive, he replies, “Live.” And Dom’s reaction to knowing that he just said all of that while in the presence of hundreds of fans? He simply said, “What!” without trying to hide the annoyance in his tone.

Here is the video if you would like to watch it for yourself:

Now let’s talk about why this matters and why his actions and words are inexcusable.

His entrance into his friend’s trailer, without any hesitation, was to use a word that, as it appears, he uses quite regularly. This troubles myself and fans of the show for one reason: a large portion of the Shadowhunters fandom identifies as LGBTQ+. So, if you are someone who is cis and/or straight, you will not understand the impact that a seemingly small comment such as Dom’s can have on somebody.

Secondly, the normalization of words like this will only continue to grow, especially after seeing a mildly famous actor saying it only to be praised and have it be played off as a “joke”. As one of the few television shows with an accurate representation of an interracial m/m couple, one of whom is bisexual, the creators and cast have high expectations to uphold.

How harshly was Dom reprimanded?

If you were hoping the show got rid of him altogether and recasted Jace, you would (so far) be wrong. Instead, somebody made him stand beside Matthew while delivering a very obviously prepared apology. In the video, Dom repeatedly states how the show is one based upon love and acceptance all while Matthew appears to be giving him the stare-down of the century. So now that he “apologized”, people have begun to forgive and forget.

Posting an undoubtedly scripted or prepared apology video online does not erase the fact that Dom Sherwood is a casual homophobe when the cameras aren’t around.

 As one would imagine, the responses to this have been pretty much split down the middle: some have chosen to accept his apology and move on, and some cannot watch the video of the incident without wanting to cry or scream.

What matters most, no matter which side you’re on, is that Dom receives more than just a slap on the wrist for his actions which have deeply offended a large majority of the fandom. Men in film and television are too often held on a pedestal above others, more specifically straight, white men. That being said, there is no doubt in my mind that Dom will most likely continue his work on Shadowhunters despite what happened. Others, on the other hand, have taken this to another level in creating a petition in hopes of sending to three people at Freeform for the result of recasting Jace – and it’s doing pretty well.

Overall, Dom’s responses and behaviors are completely inexcusable. If any actor, musician, artist or anyone with a large young adult following exhibits homophobic behavior on purpose, they must be held accountable. Speak up and drop anyone in your life, especially those whom you look up to, if they behave in a way that clearly goes against a specific minority group. Don’t normalize this.

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