We received a phone call from Tracy Morgan today, in which we spoke in great detail about why his actions two weeks ago were so hurtful to so many people in the LGBT and supportive community. He told us:
"I know how bad bullying can hurt. 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."
Tracy added "I hope that my fans gay, straight, whatever forgive and I hope my family forgives me for this."
Tracy will be taking us up on our offer to sit down with people who have been hurt by anti-gay rejection and violence, to meet them face-to-face, and to learn their stories. He committed to meet in New York City later this week with LGBT youth who have been hurt or left homeless by parental rejection, as well as families who have lost children to anti-gay violence. Included will be Elke Kennedy, the founder of Sean’s Last Wish. Elke’s son Sean was killed by anti-gay violence in 2007 at the age of 20 in South Carolina, when another man called him a f*ggot and punched him so hard it broke his facial bones and separated his brain from his brain stem.
Tracy agreed to appear in our upcoming PSA campaign "Amplify Your Voice." He also offered to return to Tennessee next week, alongside GLAAD, the Tennessee Equality Project, and our friend and ally Russell Simmons, where he plans to personally apologize to audience members who were offended by his remarks. Simmons added his voice to the conversation (and reitterated both his and Morgan's suppport for marriage equality) telling GLAAD:
“In the years that I have known Tracy, I’ve only ever known him to want to make people happy. This experience might be a blessing. The amount of pain he caused has resulted in a new sensitivity for him that he can now use to bridge communities. I’m proud to be a straight figure who spends time advocating for the community and for marriage equality. I’m happy to have another ally in Tracy. People like Tracy Morgan need to speak out against homophobia and I hope more leaders within the black community and everywhere speak out in support for marriage equality like he has.”
"By not only apologizing, but sending a message of support for gay and transgender people, Tracy will help many realize that no one should be treated differently or subjected to violence,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “It is so important that Americans hear from allies like him as well as gay and transgender youth shunned by their families and parents who have lost their only children to anti-gay violence. We look forward to working with him on spreading this message to Americans."
This step forward belongs to all of you - from Kevin Rogers who first spoke up about the incident, to all of you who expressed your outrage last week including our friends at Truth Wins Out and HRC, to the celebrities and public figures who took this as an opportunity to stand up against anti-gay language, and to all of you who stood up to the few public figures who seemed to support Morgan's anti-gay rant, making them reconsider.