Earlier this month “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan offended many with homophobic remarks he made during a stand-up show in Nashville. The comedian has since made several public apologies and announced this week that he had partnered with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in its efforts to combat anti-gay bullying.
On Friday (June 17), in his first major project with GLAAD, Morgan met with youth from the Ali Forney Center in New York City, the nation’s largest organization serving homeless LGBT youth. The actor also met with Elke Kennedy, whose 20-year-old son Sean was killed in 2007 in an anti-gay hate crime.
“Initially, he seemed very nervous, I think he seemed kind of frightened when he got there,” Carl Siciliano, the head of the Ali Forney Center, told MTV News after the meeting with Morgan. “I don’t think he knew what to expect from us.”
Siciliano said Morgan was “very apologetic” and ’just wanted to make it really clear that he was there to apologize, that he hadn’t meant to do this, that he was hurt by what he had done. He was repeatedly apologetic.”
At the center, Morgan spoke openly with the young residents, including Jayden, who was rejected by her family when she came out of the closet. “It was an apology from one human to another and I really appreciated that,” Jayden told us.
“Today, Tracy saw firsthand the toll that homophobia and anti-gay violence can take on a person’s life,” GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said in a statement. “By meeting with LGBT teens left homeless because of who they are, we hope that Tracy has come to understand that so-called ’jokes’ about gay youth are not just irresponsible, they are damaging.”
The actor also spoke with Kennedy, an LGBT activist who travels around the country speaking out against anti-gay violence and rhetoric as part of Sean’s Last Wish, an organization she founded in her son’s memory. According to Kennedy, Morgan was so moved by Sean’s story that he got choked up, saying, “You know, that should never happen. That’s why my comments, the ones I made, are not going to be made again.”
Kennedy said she believed Morgan was truly sorry for the comments he made, which included alluding to killing his own son if he grew up to be homosexual. “I feel like he made a commitment during this meeting to make a difference,” she told MTV News. “He said that he was going to use his talent as a comedian to be an advocate for the LGBT community.”
During the meeting, Morgan announced that he’ll return to Tennessee on June 21 to apologize to those he offended during his stand-up act. While in Nashville, he also plans to meet with the Tennessee Equality Project and local advocates.
What do you think of Tracy Morgan’s efforts? Tell us in the comments.