All this week, 30 Rock star and standup comic Tracy Morgan has been making the rounds on cable TV apologizing for his June 4 performance in Nashville where he went on an anti-gay screed. The results of this apology tour, though, have been decidedly mixed.
First off, on Wednesday, he returned to Nashville for a press conference in partnership with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation where he gave a choked up apology for his Ryman Auditorium performance. “I want to apologize to my friends, my family and my fans,” Morgan said at the Nashville Convention Center. “I didn’t know. I didn’t mean it... From the bottom of my heart, I apologize." When he finished, he hugged Kevin Rogers, the audience member whose complaint on Facebook triggered the entire controversy, and Rogers accepted his apology. "I believe it was just a huge mistake." Needless to say, the optics were great.
Next up, GLAAD helped Morgan meet with gay homeless youth in New York City and the mother of a gay bashing victim. CNN was all over the post-meetup analysis:
At this point, Morgan's mea culpa began receiving criticism, and GLAAD wasn't spared the scorn. "It seems that GLAAD has been using this situation as an opportunity to get as much press as possible, and rather than focusing on things that could actually make a difference," writes Nick Vivion at the gay culture site Unicorn Booty. "What if Tracy were to mentor someone in need?--it seems that there is just photo op after photo op. No substance, just superficial attempts at rectifying those incredibly dark and vicious words." Daniel Villarreal at Queerty agreed. "How long does Tracy Morgan have to be GLAAD's queer youth spokesperson?" he asked. "Morgan still hasn’t met our incredibly high criteria for hate-speech forgiveness, but what else does GLAAD have planned for Morgan’s perpetual penance?" Neither bloggers came close to burying the hatchet with Morgan. "He just doesn’t sound sincere," wrote Vivion.
But Morgan has found a friend in a blogger for Chicago's Redeye pop culture newspaper. Craig Seymour says it would be big of the gay community to put this issue to rest.
We are not some small, voiceless community that needs to be shaken to the core every time a celebrity says something stupid. We are, in fact, a strong community that has the ability to exert its force in many ways, including exercising the power to forgive.
So, for that reason, I’m expressing my gay pride by forgiving Tracy Morgan:
"Dear Tracy, I sincerely accept your apology. But don’t fuck up again.”