UPDATE: Tina Fey and NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt have spoken out against anti-gay violence and GLAAD has called on Tracy Morgan to speak out and meet with families who have lost loved ones to anti-LGBT violence.
Earlier today, GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios was on CNN to discuss the Tracy Morgan incident.
First, we need to thank CNN for pairing him with comedian (and "Spirit of Bill Hicks" award-winner) Dean Obeidallah and PR expert Marvet Britto, founder and President of the Britto Agency - both of whom added a depth of experience to the conversation. They both had interesting viewpoints into what happened and opinions about what Tracy Morgan should do next - Dean as a fellow comedian, and Marvet as someone who has dealt with incidents like this in the past. Both agreed that Tracy was right in saying he went too far, and that our idea for him to meet with some of the people who have been impacted by the kinds of anti-gay violence and rejection that he was "joking" about.
But we also need to highlight something Jarrett said.
"NBC needs to make a statement, and the entertainment industry needs to make a statement condemning this sort of treatment of any group, but in particular given the violence the gay community experiences, and the green light these sort of statements are - everybody should be condemning this violence."
Statements like the one Tracy Morgan put out today are fine - but what's better is a broader cultural statement. One that reflects an honest and concrete understanding of the hardships that LGBT young people face, especially when they are rejected by their parents.
Today, GLAAD is calling on NBC to make a statement condemning the violent, anti-gay portion of Morgan's stand-up routine. But we're also calling on NBC to think about the messages being sent to young people, parents, and educators, and to improve those messages wherever possible.
NBC and the entertainment industry as a whole have a real opportunity here to shine a light on these issues - to tell the stories of LGBT youth who have ended up homeless because of their parents' rejection. To show the concrete harms caused to young people who come out to their parents, and whose parents react the way Tracy Morgan told the crowd that he would. And to tell the stories of LGBT youth who have lost their lives to anti-gay violence.
It's one thing to apologize for a mistake. It's even better to avoid future mistakes. But it's best to educate people about why the mistake was a mistake.