NEW YORK – Comedian Tracy Morgan today issued a statement apologizing for a series of anti-gay jokes during a recent performance in Nashville, Tenn. Morgan's response comes after GLAAD, HRC, Truth Wins Out, bloggers and others called on the comedian to address the allegations.
"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," Morgan said in the written statement. "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."
According to an audience member, Morgan claimed that being gay is a choice, that being gay is something that kids learn from the media, and that victims of anti-gay bullying are simply 'whining.' The spectator also alleges that Morgan went so far as to say that he would stab his own son if he turned out to be gay.
"Jokes that make light of violence directed at gay and lesbian youth aren't only offensive, they put our kids in harm's way," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "Tracy Morgan must not only apologize, but assure us that this won't happen again and send a clear message to Americans that anti-gay violence is no joke."
In speaking with his publicist, GLAAD has offered to arrange a meeting between Morgan and family members who have lost children to anti-gay violence in order to help him understand exactly why his rant touched so deep a nerve.
Barrios continued, "If Tracy Morgan is sincere, he should take us up on meeting these families who have lost loved ones to the type of violence that he is mocking. Perhaps by hearing their stories, he will learn that while we all love humor, this is no laughing matter."