Jason Alexander recently Tweeted a lengthy "message of amends" after calling the cricket sport "gay" on national television.
The 52-year-old actor, best known for playing George Costanza on the sitcom "Seinfeld," had made his comments on the late-night CBS talk show "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" in late May.
"You know how I know it's really kind of a gay game? It's the pitch," Alexander said on the program, which he called "a wonderfully unstructured, truly spontaneous conversation show" (Video below). "It looks like nothing - if you put it in slow motion ... It's the weirdest ... It's not like a manly baseball pitch; it's a queer British gay pitch."
In a some 1,000-word Twitter message posted on Sunday, days after the episode aired, Alexander said he received messages from some of his followers, who made him "aware that they were both gay and offended by the joke." He says that he reviewed the material with his "gay friends," and realized where he was wrong.
"At first, even they couldn't quite find the offense in the bit," Alexander said. "But as we explored it, we began to realize what was implied under the humor. I was basing my use of the word 'gay' on the silly generalization that real men don't do gentile, refined things and that my portrayal of the cricket pitch was pointedly effeminate, thereby suggesting that effeminate and gay were synonymous."
Public scrutiny about what has become a common usage of the adjectives "gay" and "queer" as insults in the United States has risen over at least the past year amid struggles to legalize same-sex marriage and following a slew of suicides of gay teenagers in 2010.
The veteran actor and comedian cited an incident that occurred in Australia years prior in which he also referred to cricket as "gay" during a comedy set.
"I did a chunk of this old routine and again referred to cricket as kind of 'gay' - talking about the all white uniforms that never seem to get soiled; the break they take for tea time with a formal tea cart rolled onto the field, etc," Alexander explained. "I also did an exaggerated demonstration of the rather unusual way they pitch the cricket ball which is very dance-like with a rather unusual and exaggerated arm gesture. Well, it was all a laugh in Australia where it was seen as a joke about how little I understood cricket, which in fact is a very, very athletic sport."
The New Jersey native said he "should know better" and is "profoundly aware" of the challenges his gay friends face.
"Growing up in the '70's in a town that revered it's school sports and athletes, I was quite the outsider listening to my musical theater albums, studying voice and dance and spending all my free time on the stage," he said. "Many of the same taunts and jeers and attitudes leveled at young gay men and women were thrown at me and on occasion I too was met with violence or the threat of violence."
"So, I can only apologize and I do," he continued. "In comedy, timing is everything. And when a group of people are still fighting so hard for understanding, acceptance, dignity and essential rights - the time for some kinds of laughs has not yet come. I hope my realization brings some comfort."
He later joked about the controversy on Monday, Tweeting: "The kind words being sent 4 my 'amends' tweet r overwhelming. Especially from the Gay Community. TY. The Cricket Community however, hates me. However, to paraphrase Dennis Miller - I do wish humor where a science rather than a sense. It would make life much easier."
In 2010, controversy erupted over usage of the word "gay" as an insult in a trailer for the Vince Vaughn comedy film "The Dilemma." Talk show host Anderson Cooper helped raise more attention to the issue by saying on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" that he was offended by the clip. Universal Studios later recut the trailer to remove the scene.
Alexander's "Seinfeld" co-star and fellow comedian Michael Richards famously made headlines in 2006 when he unleashed a racist rant against a black audience member while performing at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood. He later apologized in a segment that aired on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman."
See the video from Alexander's appearance on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" below.