Ripped from the Headlines: Liz Lemon Explains that Anti-Gay Comments Can 'Influence or Hurt People' on '30 Rock'

GLAAD made a special appearance last night on NBC's hit comedy '30 Rock' after working with star Tracy Morgan last summer.

In the episode, Tracy Jordan (played by Tracy Morgan) sparks a protest after he angers audiences with a homophobic standup routine.

His boss, Liz Lemon (played by series creator Tina Fey), explains that, “You’re a public figure and, believe it or not, the dumb things you say may influence or hurt people. You need to apologize.”

According to the Associated Press:

A contrite Jordan mistakenly apologizes to the makers of Glad bags, rather than to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, known as GLAAD.

“It’s the wrong GLAAD, Tracy,” Liz tells him.  

GLAAD’s Senior Director of Programs Herndon Graddick gave a reaction to The New York Times after the episode aired, “I thought it was hilarious. We’ve been called worse than trash bag manufacturers and look forward to seeing the second part next week.”

The AP continues:

In the episode, Tracy’s boss, played by Tina Fey, is forced to apologize for him.

“He’s not capable of hate,” she assures the media. “He’s just an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s saying.”

After being called an idiot, Tracy tells Liz that he understands the power of words and why the gay community was upset: “I do get how they felt – insulted, marginalized and outraged.” He goes on to stage his own protest, which will be continued next week.

Thankfully, last summer -- when Morgan said during a comedy routine that if his own son were gay, he would “pull out a knife and stab” him -- he didn’t get the wrong phone number after the incident went viral on Facebook.

Morgan called GLAAD, wanting to send a positive message about his support for the LGBT community. He met with GLAAD; the Ali Forney Center, a shelter for homeless LGBT youth in New York City; and Elke Kennedy, founder of Sean’s Last Wish and whose 20-year-old son, Sean, was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in 2007. Tina Fey and NBC President Robert Greenblatt also spoke out against his remarks.

After that meeting, GLAAD and advocate Cathy Renna worked with the media to share Sean's story, as well as the stories of homeless LGBT youth. Elke and the youth appeared on outlets including CNN, MTV News, and The Wall Street Journal, speaking not only about their meeting with Tracy, but how parental rejection causes harm to LGBT youth.

Jayden Love & Raciel Castillo of the Ali Forney Center said: “Our parents' inability to accept us changed our lives for the worse. We hope that our stories have the power to change not only Tracy's perspective, but those of any parent who may be struggling with accepting their child. In the meeting, Tracy clearly took responsibility for his words, and we hope that he will use his platform to make the world a better place for LGBT people."

A few days later, Tracy and GLAAD were in Nashville to meet with local gay and transgender residents of Tennessee and make a public statement to his fans about his support for the LGBT community, and why parents should love their children no matter who they are.

“I don’t believe that anyone should be bullied or just made to feel bad about who they are. I totally feel that, in my heart, I don’t care who you love, same-sex or not, as long as you have the ability to love… I don’t really see gay or straight, I just see human beings now... From the bottom of my heart, I apologize to everybody."

“Tracy was sincere and spoke from his heart today,” said Kevin Rogers, who first reported the incident via Facebook. “I decided to speak out and use my voice to inspire others. The best thing that has come from this is a national conversation that anti-gay violence is unacceptable and that homophobia is outdated.”

Local Nashville gay and transgender organizations continued that conversation in interviews with a room full of local and national media- speaking about what it’s like to be LGBT in Tennessee.

Last year, NBC’s ‘30 Rock’ received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Individual TV Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character) for "Klaus & Greta." 

But no, Liz, we don’t think you’re pulling that hat off.

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