'30 Rock' Set To Tackle Tracy Morgan's Anti-Gay Rant In Upcoming Episode

Tracy Morgan

It's easily the most self-referential show on television, so it should come as no surprise that "30 Rock" is set to tackle head on the controversy that erupted last summer after star Tracy Morgan made a series of violent homophobic comments during a Nashville comedy show.

During a June 3 standup comedy show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, Morgan proclaimed that he would stab his own son if he were gay, criticized the media for promoting a gay agenda, said lesbians were just women who were angry at men and dismissed the wave of anti-gay bullying, which was at the time making headlines following a series of teen suicides, "insignificant."

Following a massive public backlash, the comedian apologized, saying, "I want to apologize to my fans and the gay and lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville," Morgan said. "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." Soon thereafter, Morgan teamed up with GLAAD for its "Amplify Your Voice" anti-bullying public service campaign, met with gay teens at New York's Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization serving homeless LGBT youth, and traveled to Nashville to apologize to audience members offended by his rant.

Now, rather than pretend nothing ever happened, "30 Rock" creator Tina Fey is set to incorporate the incident into an upcoming episode, according to MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, who makes a cameo appearance on the show. "Well, you know how a lot of their episodes mirror their lives. They've incorporated [Morgan's rant] into the Tracy Jordan storyline," Roberts, who is openly gay, told the Huffington Post of the episode. "Liz Lemon writes Tracy's apology on the show and says he's not a homophobe, he's an idiot. That offends idiots, so while NBC is being picketed by the LBGT community, now it's also being picketed by idiots led by Denise Richards. She's the leader of the idiots."

It's a tricky subject for the very-meta "30 Rock" to tackle, but we have faith in Fey, who was as outraged as everyone else by Morgan's comments.

"The violent imagery of Tracy's rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community. It also doesn't line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person," Fey said in a statement at the time. "I hope for his sake that Tracy's apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian co-workers at '30 Rock,' without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket."

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LGBT and anti-bullying advocates will likely be watching very closely to make sure the episode's message doesn't boil down to "everyone is too easily offended" – which Robert's synopsis of the episode kind of makes it sound like.

It's a route we wouldn't expect from Fey or Morgan. When MTV News spoke to Elke Kennedy, an LGBT activist who travels the country speaking out against anti-gay violence and rhetoric as part of Sean's Last Wish, an organization founded to honor her son Sean, who was killed in 2007 in an anti-gay hate crime, she told us she believed Morgan was truly sorry for his comments.

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 continued, "I feel like he made a commitment during this meeting to make a difference. He said that he was going to use his talent as a comedian to be an advocate for the LGBT community.

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