Dear Dominic Sherwood

Hi, it’s me. One of the millions of LGBTQ+ fans who used to support you. I’m here to attempt to educate you and your remaining fans – in as minimal a condescending tone as I can muster through my angry typing – why an apology from you simply isn’t good enough.

Let’s start by addressing what, exactly, you did this time. And I say this time because it seems like every other week your sorry ass is posting about how awful you feel about that X, Y or Z comment you made that came across as problematic, homophobic and/or ill meaning. On a Tuesday Takeover Facebook livestream, something Shadowhunters (the TV show Dom is currently on, playing Jace) does quite frequently, Dom’s castmate Matthew Daddario was answering questions in what I believe was his trailer. Now the significance, and what makes this situation worse by a frustratingly insufferable amount, of it being Matthew and not, say, any other castmate of Dom’s is that Matt plays Alec. Alec is an openly gay character, well-known for his coming out storyline and relationship with Magnus. The two form Malec, a relationship that Dom has expressed his approval and love for many times.

Walking into Matt’s trailer, unaware of the current livestream, Mr. Sherwood chose to use the words “What’s up, fag?” as a casual greeting to Matt on the 28th of Novemeber 2017.

I’ll pause for effect.

It really shouldn’t surprise me and yet I can’t help but feel betrayed and disappointed that a so-called ally and representative of such an LGBTQ+ inclusive show would choose to use deliberate homophobic language. How dare you use that word with such flippant regard. The casualness in which you stated that ugly word, that slur, and didn’t even realise what you had done when Matt yelled not only highlights how you’ve probably done it before but also shows that you’re just another thoughtless privileged guy who hides behind intent.

You cannot use a word and claim to not mean its meaning.

I applaud the Elijah Daniels of the world, who try to take back the ugliness and brutality of the word and use it as a form of self-empowerment, but I know I’m not alone in saying that I don’t accept your apology. And that’s my choice, just like it was your choice to use that word.

Your fans are saying that you made a mistake, that you apologised and that you didn’t mean to offend anyone. Well, to that I say: Ignorance is not a mistake, it’s a choice. And an apology means just as much as a pat on the back when so many LGBTQ+ people have been condemned, persecuted and branded as what you so casually said with no regard to the history or the pain of that one stupid word. A tongue has more potential for destruction than any nuclear weapon. The amount of people you’ve offended outweighs the wide-eyed fans who are still writing how much they love you, how they applaud you for taking ownership of your mistake and how much you don’t deserve this kind of hate and negativity.

Let’s make one thing clear. To those writing Dom death threats – you are no better than him. Using hate speech is one thing but telling someone to commit suicide should never be brought into any kind of discussion no matter how heated an argument gets. That being said, I have no doubt that this apology comes from the minds of a fast-acting PR team who want to save the little dignity you have left, Dom. There are so many other actors who are just as generically handsome, who are just as quasi-talented at acting and who are just as physically in shape as you to play your character. Half of them are probably even genuinely supportive of LGBTQ+ rights and I see no reason as to why one of them shouldn’t get to play Jace after you’ve messed up so many times now.

In reality, you probably didn’t mean to offend anyone. But that’s part of the problem. You think it’s okay to say these things, to act this way, when there’s no one around to challenge you on it. Being an ally, being tolerant, being supportive is not saying a few sound bites for the media and turning around to be homophobic with your friends when the cameras aren’t on.

In the end, nothing I’ve said here really matters because (let’s face it) you’re a pretty, white, hunky blonde man and so far up the Hollywood hierarchy that no exec can touch you, let alone scold you for your behaviour. You’ll continue on in your career, unscathed, and while I’d like to think you’ll be recast the chances are pretty slim. What I hope most, however, is that you take away something of value from this experience. You’re going to leave without facing reprimand outside of social media but I sincerely wish you growth and understanding. Not for your sake but for the sake of the people you influence. For the sake of those who so feverishly defend you, who are like you, and who do not know why this is such a big deal.

Let them know, as we (the people you have offended) have let you know, why your (and their) ignorance is inexcusable and intolerable.




Author: Leandro Henriques

A pocket-sized Gemini with a lot to say.

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