By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com June 10 2011 8:55 AM ET
UPDATE: 11:55 a.m.
Comedian Tracy Morgan is apologizing for going too far in an onstage tirade against gay people — even joking about killing his own son if he were effeminate, according to a member of the audience.
“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,” he said in a statement issued to The Advocate. “I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others. 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.”
Watchdog groups — including Truth Wins Out, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Human Rights Campaign — called on the 30 Rock star to explain himself after an account surfaced online of the meltdown. Morgan’s strange series of jokes came while in Nashville on June 3, playing at the 2,300-seat Ryman Auditorium, and the audience reportedly egged him on with hoots and cheers while others walked out.
Audience member Kevin Rogers took to his Facebook page to describe the scene. Rogers said Morgan joked that “women are a gift from God and that ‘Born this Way’ is bullshit. Gay is a choice.” Morgan is said to have called gay people “mistakes.” Morgan said lesbians just hate men and don’t have real attraction to women, according to Rogers’s account.
On bullying in schools, Morgan is said to have advised gays to “quit being pussies” and stop whining. Then, Rogers said, Morgan talked about killing his son.
“He said if his son ... 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 wrote on Facebook.
Although Morgan has come under scrutiny before for telling an audience at Carnegie Hall that being gay is a choice, this latest addition to his act would be pushing the boundaries of what’s appropriate much further.
Evan Hurst, social media director for Truth Wins Out, is from Tennessee and knows Rogers from his work with the Tennessee Equality Project, and that relationship gave him enough confidence in the account to warrant attention.
“We are pretty thick-skinned around here because you have to be,” Hurst said of Tennesseans, who have endured a recent spate of antigay legislation. “And for the number of people who were going, ‘I am genuinely offended by this, this is hurtful, and this is meant to hurt,’ I think we are looking at something different here.”
"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," said GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios in a statement.
The venue for the show distanced itself from Morgan with a statement issued today to The Advocate.
“The Ryman Auditorium regrets that people were offended by statements made by Tracy Morgan during his June 3 appearance,” the statement reads. “The Ryman does not control the content presented by people appearing on its stage, nor does it endorse any of the views of, or statements made by such persons.”