In a video posted to his personal Facebook page Friday, Rep. Al Jacquet uses a common Caribbean anti-gay slur directed at one of his 2020 primary opponents.
With criticism mounting after a Florida Politics report on those comments, Jacquet apologized late Tuesday.
Toward the end of the video, just after the 58:30 mark, Jacquet refers to Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy as a “batty boy.”
The derogatory term is used as a slur in the Caribbean to describe a gay person. Jacquet was born in the Caribbean country of the Netherlands Antilles.
After the backlash regarding those remarks, Jacquet issued a brief statement apologizing for using the phrase.
“In the heat of the moment, I said something I should not have said,” Jacquet said. “I apologize for my words that have offended some of my colleagues.”
Among those colleagues were Democratic Reps. Nick Duran, Shevrin Jones and Carlos Guillermo Smith.
Jones and Smith are openly gay and agreed Jacquet should apologize for those comments
“As a colleague, friend, and fraternity brother to Representative Jacquet, it is my hope that he would understand the impact of what he said,” Jones said. “There is no room for discrimination of any kind, and I know Rep. Jacquet to be better than the language he used. I call on him to apologize, and hope that moving forward he understands that our words matter.”
Added Smith on Twitter, “Homophobia is toxic and dangerous. Words matter and legislators on both sides of the aisle should condemn this hateful rhetoric immediately. This is totally unacceptable. I am disgusted.”
That prompted a reply from Duran. “Agree with my friend Rep. Smith,” he said.
“There is no place for this rhetoric and hope our colleague considers how his words deeply impact many as well as hope he moves quickly with a genuine response that reflects the gravity of his conduct.”
Jacquet’s statement wasn’t enough for Smith at least. In a Twitter post, he quoted the statement with the caption, “WEAK.”
A pair of pro-LGBTQ groups also requested an apology from Jacquet.
Stephen Gaskill, President of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, released a statement early Tuesday afternoon.
“Rep. Jacquet should know better. Language matters, and has a real world impact. Rep. Jacquet needs to apologize to Florida’s LGBTQ community for using an anti-gay slur intended to demean a large segment of his Palm Beach County constituents,” Gaskill said.”
“The Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus is in Tallahassee for our annual Lobby Days, and we encourage him to meet with us while we’re here. Or he could meet with our Palm Beach County chapter, the Rusty Gordon LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, right there at home. Rep. Jacquet needs to hear directly that anti-gay language is never acceptable.”
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, went further, saying that without an apology, Jacquet should be censured or removed from the Legislature.
“State Representative Al Jacquet’s words are reprehensible. He must immediately and genuinely apologize to Lake Worth City Commission[er] Omari Hardy, the LGBTQ community, his colleagues in the Legislature, and his constituents,” the statement reads.
“If Jacquet fails to do so, at the very least, he should be censured by The Florida House of Representatives —if not removed from office.”
Jacquet’s jab at Hardy came as he was indirectly responding to a Palm Beach Post report that Jacquet is currently lacking a district office. The Post also reported the state was unable to send a notice of an election violation to Jacquet’s listed home address. That letter was marked “return to sender.”
The Post’s story leads with the question, “Where is state Rep. Al Jacquet?”
In the Friday Facebook video, Jacquet says, “Where I’m at? I’m running in 2020, baby. Reelection, 100%. Where you at? I hear they got ‘Sleepy Hardy.’ That’s all good.”
Jacquet then morphs into a strong Caribbean accent, saying, “That’s the union boy. The batty boy, union boy.”
Business Insider has described the term “batty boy” as “derogatory island slang” referring to gay people. A 2002 article from The Guardian detailed the use of the term in Jamaica as a homophobic slur.
In a response to Florida Politics, Hardy called on Jacquet to apologize and detailed his own upbringing by a same sex couple.
“I’m appalled that a member of the Florida House would use a gay slur to describe another elected official,” Hardy said.
“While I am not gay, I was raised in a same-sex household by my two mothers, and I am offended for them and for the broader LGBTQ community here in Palm Beach County, where I serve. I ask that my fellow electeds condemn the Representative’s use of this slur, and I ask that the Representative apologize for using it. Bigoted rhetoric has no place in our politics — none, whatsoever.”
Elsewhere in the video, Jacquet continues responding to questions surrounding his residency. Jacquet refers to his work with young children in his House District 88 community and alleges reporters are staking him out at those events.
“They sit out there. I see them in their car, taking pictures. Where’s them pictures at?” Jacquet asks, before continuing to scold the media.
“Where’s Al Jacquet? You wanna know where’s Waldo? Why ain’t you at Riviera Beach with the young boys? Thanksgiving I’m taking them to dinner because they don’t have it in their families.”
Jacquet also launched a general attack on the media and his colleagues in the Legislature, arguing they are working to manipulate the black community.
“If you’re a community organizer, community leader, learn how to walk together and stop trying to spread fake news. Don’t spread fake news,” Jacquet said while addressing his constituents.
“You’re black. They’re gonna manipulate you. The majority of Democrats [are] not black. The majority of Republicans [are] not black. You need to know that whatever they can use to manipulate you, they [are] gonna do. The liberal media will manipulate Al Jacquet because I’m unapologetically standing with low-income folks.”
A trio of Democrats, including Hardy, has filed to run against Jacquet in the 2020 primary. Republican candidate Danielle Madsen has also filed in the Democrat-leaning district.
A portion of Jacquet’s remarks can be seen below.