Tracy Morgan has apologized in person to gay advocacy groups and an audience member who watched him make insulting comments about homosexuals at a comedy show and later sparked a media firestorm after writing about it online.
Morgan, a 42-year-old cast member of the NBC series "30 Rock" and a stand-up comic, spoke to reporters at the Nashville Convention Center on Tuesday, June 21 almost three weeks after Kevin Rogers posted on his Facebook page an angry summary of Morgan's rant, made during a performance in the city. (Warning: Contains offensive and explicit comments).
"I apologize to Kevin, to people who were at the show, for bumming them out," Morgan told reporters. "I want to apologize to my friends and my family and my fans and everyone in every community who I offended with this. I didn't know, I didn't mean it and that's how I feel about it. These young people here forgave me. Thank you, Kevin."
Rogers, who was seated next to Morgan, replied: "You're welcome, thank you." They were also photographed hugging. Later in the afternoon on Tuesday, Rogers changed his Facebook profile picture to one that shows him standing next to the actor.
Morgan had apologized for his words through a press statement after many people, including fellow actors, members of gay rights groups and NBC's entertainment chief condemned his comments. Gay rights group PFLAG had called on Morgan to "take meaningful action to prove the sincerity of that apology."
"I don't have a hateful bone in my body," Morgan said at the press conference. "I don't believe that anyone should be bullied or made to feel bad about who they are. I totally feel that in my heart. I really don't care who you love - same sex or not - as long as you have the ability to love. At this point in my life, it's an opportunity to make a difference and I don't really see 'Gay' or 'Straight' - I just see human beings now.
"I pride myself on 20 years, eighteen years of stand-up, of using it to heal people and not hurt," Morgan added. "That was my whole thing. I hurt people with this. So from the bottom of my heart, I apologize to everybody who I offended with my words onstage in Nashville and everywhere else."
Morgan has made derogatory remarks against homosexuals in his comedy shows before the incident but had not been criticized over them so publicly until Rogers' Facebook complaint went viral.
Rogers had quoted Morgan as saying at the comedy show in question that being gay is a "choice" and that lesbians pretend to be attracted to other women sexually and actually just hate men. .
Rogers said Morgan also made fun of homosexuals amid a recent teen bullying wave, adding that they should stand up for themselves rather than "whine" about their treatment. He also quoted Morgan as saying that if he had a gay son, he would stab him to death him if he was unable to talk to the comedian "like a man."
Last week, Morgan met with homeless lesbian and gay youth Friday in New York City, the Associated Press said, adding that the actor agreed to the Nashville meeting at the request of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation President Jarrett Barrios.
Rogers later said on his Facebook page, after he accepted Morgan's apology, that he "stood face to face" with Morgan, who "poured his heart out to me and made sure I looked him in the eye as he did."
"He seems to have been truly hurt by what he did and wants to make amends," Rogers said. "Nothing Tracy said was prepared or scripted. He told his publicist prior to the press conference that he was going to say what he felt he needed to say, period."