At this point, pretty much everyone is aware is aware of Jeffree Star's past. He's said and done a lot of blatantly racist things — there are receipts all over the internet.
There are videos of him threatening Black women and calling them the N-word taken from his Myspace. There are photos of him posing with a friend who is wearing blackface for Halloween on his Tumblr. He has — very recently — called multiple women of color "rats."
Star has addressed and apologized for some of these acts on Myspace, Snapchat, and Twitter, but many fans — and detractors — have been in agreement that it hasn't been enough. At last, Star has decided to do something about that.
Jeffree Star made a 16-minute video to apologize for racist remarks he made as long as 12 years ago.
"This video is something that I feel like I owe to my entire audience," he said. "For the last 10 years, I have lived my life on social media... As I sit here, I realize that I have a bigger platform sometimes than I realize myself... and I feel like it’s time that I get out a little bit of my story."
"This video is mainly about something that is a really fucked up subject that I’ve had to deal with for a long time," he began. "And it concerns old videos that were filmed of me 12 years ago."
He's referring to footage you can see in this video, which has been removed and re-uploaded to YouTube multiple times. No one has been able to verify when those videos were originally recorded, but they were all found on Myspace — that means these videos could have been uploaded at any point between 2003 and 2009.
This is the footage the internet points to when Star gets into heated arguments online or has a controversy surrounding race — for example, consider the accusations of blackface surrounding one of his promotional campaigns for Jeffree Star Cosmetics.
Star begins the video by addressing that, yes, he has drawn a lot of attention since joining YouTube and launching his cosmetics brand.
"As I have joined the YouTube community, I have been subjected to a lot of drama, and I get it," he said. "I am a hot topic, I have always been outspoken, I am someone that looks different, and I realize with all that is going to come the negative. Every time I get into an online conflict or confrontation or some crazy feud... a lot of stuff from my past constantly gets dragged up. It’s been happening for years."
This fame, he says, is what continues to "drag up" the footage of himself, which he calls "vile," "nasty," and "disgusting."
"You know what’s fucked up? The past can never be erased. It’s always going to be there, and my past has been recorded, it’s been video’d and exploited all over the internet. Those videos were 12 years ago, and I look at them, and it just makes me sick to my stomach because I don’t know who that person was."
Star says the racist remarks he made in the videos were the result of depression and bullying — and that his response was not acceptable.
"The person who said those horrible, vile things — that person was depressed, that person was angry at the world, that person felt like they were not accepted, that person was seeking attention. I loved fighting anger with anger, and I didn’t know any better. Does that make it OK? Absolutely not."
But even though Star admits he said some horribly racist things, he insists none of it was ACTUALLY about race.
"The intent behind my words back then was not about race. Racism does not live inside of me… I don’t how that exists into people. I said really horrible, vicious things back to people to hurt them, to harm them, to shock them, and to let them know, 'You’re gonna call me something? I’m gonna cut you back so hard and make you feel like a piece of shit because you made me feel low.' And that is not OK. It is not OK to fight words with words like that."
While it's great to acknowledge the role that pain can play in unacceptable behavior like Star's, saying racist things to people of color and then saying it's not about race is... complicated.
He says he takes racism very seriously. "I owe you the truth, and I owe you an apology."
"I am so sorry for my words, I am so sorry for everything I’ve said in my past. I can never turn back time and take those moments back. They happened, I have owned up with them, and I have lived with them for a long time. And every time that they get re-dragged up, it just makes me sad because I don’t know who that person was."
Back in the days when men wearing makeup wasn't as socially accepted as it is now, Star faced extreme daily harassment — harassment he internalized and projected onto other people.
Star used makeup as an emotional and psychological escape from a household he says was abusive — but making his love for makeup public didn't go well for him. Star recalls getting called a "faggot," and a "freak," among other things.
"I fought back with anger, I fought back with rage, and it’s wrong."
But now, Star wants to take responsibility for his words and actions in order to become a better role model for his young followers.
"I’ve never had this much success in my career. And all of you out there that have supported me, I will never be able to thank you enough… but I also think that it’s important to share things and to let you know that I am not perfect. I am wrong all the time. Even recently, when people were saying some fucked up shit to me or trying to get a reaction, I DO give in. I AM weak."
And that includes improving his interactions with other people on the internet. Star even said he is going to stop engaging in Twitter fights altogether.
"I don’t want to continue that behavior. I should be setting an example, and I have been completely doing the opposite over the last few years. I want everyone to learn from me and my wrongs. When you’re being attacked or someone is bullying you or hurting you, it’s OK to defend yourself or it’s OK to respond — but be careful of how you respond, because how I handled things was not OK. And you never know how it is going to affect a person."
Star's advice? Staying strong isn't about lashing out at your bullies. It's about knowing how to stop fueling the fire.
"I was angry, I never felt accepted, and I was always alone. If you have those feelings, that’s OK. You will overcome them, but it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take a lot of self analyzation, and you have to want to change, and you have to want to grow," he concluded. "I know what I need to work on... I’m not going to fuel the fire of hate with hate, I just think it has to stop."