Has Comic Crossed the Line with Gay ’Jokes?’

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday June 10, 2011

Former SNL star Tracy Morgan's alleged homophobic rant during a live show led one audience member to write a Facebook account of what the comic had to say about gays from the stage. That account has gone viral.

Morgan starred for eight seasons on "Saturday Night Live," and he currently co-stars on the comedy "30 Rock" with fellow SNL alum Tina Fey. He also had his own short-lived series in 2003. Morgan divorced wife Sabrina after a marriage of 23 years, though according to Wikipedia the last eight years of the marriage was over; the Wikipedia entry quotes a friend of Morgan as saying, "Basically they were divorced without the paperwork."

Kevin Rogers, who attended Morgan's show with his partner and a friend on June 3, was so shocked and dismayed by the anti-gay vitriol that poured from the stage during the act that he blogged about it at his Facebook account the following day. Within a few days, Roger's posting was all over Facebook, forwarded from user to user. Then the account went out to the wider Internet community, first via the website for Truth Wins Out, a group that works to counter the so-called "ex-gay" movement, which claims -- as Morgan reportedly did -- that homosexuality is something that can be chosen or left behind.

Morgan's June 4 appearance at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, drew cheers from the crowd as the act went on, Rogers wrote. But did the comic go too far?

As Rogers tells it, he was ready for a night of good, not-so-clean fun, and he was prepared for some humor at the expense of the GLBT community. What he didn't expect was the sheer vitriol that Morgan unleashed in the name of "a joke."

"I've been a big fan of his since his days at SNL," Rogers wrote. "The show was your typical hysterical dick, cum and pussy humor... I have to say it was hilarious and well worth at least 40% of the $86 we spent per ticket to see him.

"I figured at some point the gay jokes would fly and I'm well prepared for a good ribbing of straight gay humor," Rogers continued in his posting. "I have very thick skin when it comes to humor; I can dish and I can take.

"What I can't take is when Mr. Morgan took it upon himself to mention about how he feels all this gay shit was crazy and that women are a gift from God and that 'Born this Way' is bullshit, gay is a choice, and the reason he knows this is exactly because 'God don't make no mistakes' (referring to God not making someone gay cause that would be a mistake)."

Rogers went on to describe how the comic's tirade gathered momentum and garnered enthusiastic audience approval.

"He said that there is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that's just a woman pretending because she hates a fucking man," Rogers recounted. "He took time to visit the bullshit of this bullying stuff and informed us that the gays needed to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying. He mentioned that gay was something kids learn from the media and programming, and that bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat those other little fuckers that bully them, not whine about it.

"He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death. He mentioned that Barack Obama needed to man up and quit being all down with this just because he has a wife and two daughters. All of this being followed by thunderous cheer and 'You go Tracys,' " Rogers continued.

"Tracy then said he didn't fucking care if he pissed off some gays, because if they can take a fucking dick up their ass... they can take a fucking joke."

But the tirade Morgan unleashed didn't seem to be all in good fun, Rogers wrote.

"The sad thing is that none of this rant was a joke," Rogers' account continued. "His entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night. He was truly filled with some hate towards us."

Not everyone on the audience was appreciative of Morgan's anti-gay riffs.

"As far as I could see 10 to 15 people walked out," Rogers wrote. "I had to fight myself to stay seated, but I knew if I got up... he won. He wanted to piss people off and get a rise. I didn't let him win by chasing me off, he surely didn't get any applause or laughter from me after that point -- mainly because he was no longer funny to me."

Rogers went on to reiterate that his reaction was not a matter of politically correct sensitivity, writing, "Once again, I can take a joke.

"I find all sorts of things that are inappropriate funny," Rogers noted. "Life is too serious to not laugh and enjoy some humor. I now no longer enjoy Tracy Morgan's humor. It's sad that I now have to take some inventory of my love of '30 Rock.' " Rogers went on to write that he was "very very very disappointed" in Morgan.

Truth Wins Out demanded in a June 8 posting at the organization's website that Morgan issue a statement addressing the anti-gay remarks he allegedly made during his Nashville appearance.

"In an era when strong role models like CNN's Don Lemon are coming out, and public figures from the San Francisco Giants to the President of the United States are loudly proclaiming their support for LGBT youth victims of anti-gay bullying, it is disgraceful for any role model to inject such hatred into the discourse," said Evan Hurst, the group's Director of Social Media.

"The last year has seen far too many reports of gay or gay-perceived youth either attempting or completing suicide as a result of anti-gay bullying," Hurst added. "If Tracy Morgan indeed did say these things, he needs to respond immediately with either an explanation or a contrite apology."

"LGBT people are still fighting for equality all across America, and many of our teens are still very much at risk," the June 8 posting at Truth Wins Out said. "Sadly, reports of gay youth taking their own lives due to anti-gay bullying have become all too common.

"Tennessee's gay teens are in particular danger as the state legislature has endeavored over the past year to make life as difficult as possible for them, going as far as to move a bill prohibiting teachers from even acknowledging their existence in schools," noted the posting. "Tracy Morgan is a role model to many young people, including gay kids. If these reports are true, Mr. Morgan owes them, and us all, a full apology."

"Tracy Morgan needs to respond to these allegations," Hurst asserted. "Comedians have long pushed the envelope in tackling controversial subjects. Indeed, it's part of their job description, and good comedians are able to do this and keep everybody laughing at the same time. However, abject hatred directed at vulnerable kids is not comedy, by anyone's definition."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.