After his on-stage homophobic tirade “went viral” last week, Tracy Morgan issued a lukewarm apology that included such garbage chestnuts as “my friends and family know what is in my heart” and “I am an equal opportunity offender.” Yuck to both of those statements. But after being publicly admonished all weekend by Tina Fey and NBC and Chris Rock (eventually), etc, Tracy Morgan appears to be taking genuine steps towards making things right. From the Hollywood Reporter:
On the heels of his anti-gay tirade and subsequent apology, Tracy Morgan has told GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios that he will team up with the group to meet with LGBT youth and participate in an anti-bullying PSA.
Additionally, Morgan plans to return to Tennessee next week to apologize to audience members offended by his comments.
Right? That’s kind of a lot, doing community outreach and a PSA and apologizing directly to the people who were at the show in question. Not bad. He also issued a much more thoughtful and personal reaction to his own behavior:
“I know how bad bullying can hurt,” he said. “I was bullied when I was a kid. I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it. I never want to use my comedy to hurt anyone. My family knew what it was like to feel different. My brother was disabled, and I lost my father to AIDS in 1987. My dad wasn’t gay but I also learned about homophobia then because of how people treated people who were sick with that. Parents should support and love their kids no matter what. Gay people deserve the same right to be happy in this country as everyone else. Our laws should support that. I hope that my fans gay, straight, whatever forgive, and I hope my family forgives me for this.”
Make no mistake: he should never have said the things he said in the first place. Actually, wait, no, that’s not quite the right way to phrase it. People can say whatever they want. But it is a bummer that he said what he said in the first place, and it suggests a deep-rooted belief system either in the hatred he espoused or at the very least in the acceptability of expressing and making “light” of hatred like that. The Videogum “Tracy Morgan Promise” remains a defunct remnant of the past. He still kind of sucks now. But, whether coerced by his publicist or not, he still seems to be taking the extra step to make things right, and even if that has as much to do with salvaging his own career as it does with making society a more tolerant place, it’s still something.
So there’s that.