Tracy Morgan Apologizes for Crude Gay Jibes

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday June 10, 2011

Comic Tracy Morgan apologized for remarks that he made at a Nashville, Tennessee, venue in which he allegedly claimed that homosexuality is a choice and said that he would stab his own son to death if he came out as gay.

Among the audience for Morgan's June 3 appearance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville was Kevin Rogers, who attended the show with his partner and a friend. Rogers 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.

Before long, 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.

Eventually, the mainstream media caught wind of the act, in which, according to Rogers, Morgan claimed "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' account went on to describe how Morgan also allegedly claimed that lesbians turn to other women out of hatred for men, and dismissed recent efforts to reach out to GLBT teens that may be at risk for suicidal conduct.

"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," Rogers recounted. "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," 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. His entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night. He was truly filled with some hate towards us."

Morgan, in making his apologies, said that wasn't the case, asserting that he didn't hate gays and was an "equal opportunity jokester."

"I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville," Morgan said in a statement, Entertainment Weekly reported on June 10.

"I'm not a hateful person and don't condone any kind of violence against others," Morgan continued. "While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context."

But a June 10 Business Insider article questioned the sincerity of Morgan's apologetic sentiments, saying, "Morgan's standup is largely a rambling, disorganized rant -- and it's been hovering near straight-up homophobia for a while now."

The article went on to say that Morgan's anti-gay remarks are not "so much jokes as... angry missives.

"In fact, it's been a staple of Morgan's act for months now to simply point out he doesn't believe people can be born gay," the article added. "There's no set-up. There's no punch line. And when he says it, you can see the hairs stand up on the necks of the people in front of you."

GLAAD was quick to jump in when Rogers' Facebook posting started to surface in the media, noted in a June 10 article.

"Tracy Morgan's management needs to investigate these allegations and should they prove true, we call on him to remove these violently anti-gay remarks from his show and send a strong message that anti-gay violence is not something to joke about," Jarrett Barrios, the head of the media watchdog group, said.

The Human Rights Campaign also weighed in.

"Hateful remarks that mock youth suicides and the very real emotional and sometimes physical bullying LGBT kids face on a daily basis have no place in a comedy routine," Fred Sainz, the HRC's Vice President of Communications, said in a June 10 media release.

"I'm shocked that Tracy Morgan would find humor in so viciously attacking our youth," Sainz added. "If these allegations are true, Tracy Morgan must immediately accept responsibility and apologize. His employer, NBC Universal, also must come forward and condemn these atrocious comments."

The apologetic statement Morgan issued did little to appease the equality advocacy organization.

"Tracy Morgan exercised extremely poor judgment and he did the right thing by apologizing," Sainz said in a release issued later that same day, after Morgan's apology reached the media.

"But that's just not enough. He's a role model and Morgan now has a responsibility to make amends for his horribly hurtful and dangerous 'comedy' routine. He also needs to go further than his apology and correct the record: no one should feel ashamed because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and they should definitely not become a victim of violence," Sainz continued.

"Words have consequences and Morgan should be held to a higher standard. Until he does something meaningful, his brand will remain tarnished."

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.

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.