It's difficult to feel sorry for Tracy Morgan at all after his recent rant in Tennessee against gays, in which he said he'd stab his son if he came home and told him he was gay. SO difficult, but some recent revelations he made about his own past, at least make it more understandable.
Today he offered a heartfelt apology to GLADD, and explained how he too was bullied as a child. His brother was disabled, and his father died of AIDS in 1987. While his father contracted HIV through intravenous drugs, he and his family still faced the discrimination and stigma that disease carried then that's even greater than it is today. "My dad wasn’t gay but I also learned about homophobia then because of how people treated people who were sick with that," he told GLADD.
That explains a lot. It doesn't excuse him by any means, but it certainly does highlight just how long-lasting the implications of bullying can be, and what a vicious cycle it is. His reported exact words during the rant: "the gays needed to quit being p—ies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying.”
Clearly the bullying wasn't insignificant in his life, and has led him to perpetuate the bullying cycle, which happens all too often.
It sounds like Morgan is now doing what he can to help stop that cycle and making amends where he can. He's meeting with lesbian and gay teens in New York, returning to Tennessee to personally address those he offended there, and he's filming a PSA for GLADD's "Amplify Your Voice" campaign. GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios issued a statement in response to Morgan's actions:
By not only apologizing, but sending a message of support for gay and transgender people, Tracy will help many realize that no one should be treated differently or subjected to violence. It is so important that Americans hear from allies like him as well as gay and transgender youth shunned by their families and parents who have lost their only children to anti-gay violence. We look forward to working with him on spreading this message to Americans.
So perhaps in this case two wrongs will eventually make a right. Morgan can learn to move beyond the fear and emotional damage bullying did to him, and because of his public image, many others will too. It was an ugly way to get there, but the end result could be powerful.
Of course, there's always the chance he could just be doing and saying all this to save his ass, so that he doesn't get booted from 30 Rock, and that fans far and wide don't ditch him. He has talked the anti-bullying talk before, and even recorded a PSA last November in which he blasted bullies. Hopefully, this time he'll walk the walk. The real proof will be in how he moves on beyond these initial mea culpas. Can he be funny without hurling hate? And just how far will he be able to push that "line" in the future when he so majorly crossed it once?
As he told Russell Simmons in an interview via GlobalGrind.com:
I appreciate the love from my friends and fans, but I was wrong. Period. Now, I just gotta think of some funny s***, not some s–t that gets me knocked upside my head.
What do you think of Tracy Morgan's efforts to make amends for his offensive remarks? Does his past make you more sympathetic to his recent actions?
Image via david_shankbone/Flickr