So Tracy Morgan’s going back to Nashville for an “I’m sorry I wanted to stab my gay son” tour—brought to you by GLAAD and that national attention that pressured him to do it after his violently anti-gay routine. As part of his public penance, he’ll meet with queer youths in New York, talk with the Nashville audience members he ticked off, film a PSA, and hold a news conference against Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Should we make his actions part of a set list that every celebrity must go through whenever they do something anti-gay?
Because it’s still socially acceptable to hate on queers (thanks GOP), certain dumb celebrities are gonna say anti-gay stuff from time to time. We don’t like it, but if Kobe Bryant, Noah Joakim, and Soulja Boy are any indication, we should expect it to happen again… like, before the month is over.
The real danger of celebrities saying anti-gay things is that they contribute to a homophobic atmosphere and encourage fans to participate in similar behavior. Morgan and others can’t undo the effect of their initial actions but that’s OK because (as we’ve said in the past) the occasional anti-gay slur can highlight the pervasive role of homophobia in everyday America. Plus, the public penance process can go a long way towards shifting the public discussion back on how homophobia hurts and how American citizens can fight intolerance.
Ultimately, we’d like “faggot” and violent homophobia to register as high on the “social no-no scale” as saying nigger, kyke, or threatening violence against any other group. People lose their careers over such things and they should.
But until that day, another celebrity slur is just waiting to happen. So perhaps the gay community should just standardize a penance to-do list. That way, anytime some turd burglar steps in it, he or she can have clear steps of how to apologize and give back to the gay community before the gay community even has a chance to get all pissed about it. Then said offender can humbly accept whatever additional hoops their employer would like them to jump and even possibly a well-deserved firing!
We imagine that until they saw the tape or read the account that neither Bryant nor Morgan knew they had been caught saying anti-gay stuff. So instead of appealing your fine and insisting that we’ve all misunderstood your enlightened use of the word “faggot” (Bryant) or saying “no comment” until the public pressures you into an apology (Morgan), how about you draft out a sincere apology with the following elements and then release it into the press?
1. A GENUINE “I’M SORRY FOR MY ANTI-GAY ACTIONS”: Please don’t give us the non-apology of “I’m sorry if you were offended,” or “I’m sorry for any offense my actions might have caused.” Just say you’re sorry for acting like a dumb bigot. There’s a big boy.
2. AN EXPLANATION OF WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU: Sometimes celebrities get angry and go on hateful tirades (just ask John “I Love Hitler” Galliano). So why not explain what drove you to begin with.
Say, “I was angry at the referee and called him a fag,” or “I was trying to be edgy by threatening to stab my gay son.” We’ll listen. In fact, understanding what drove you to your hateful actions helps us understand what motivates others to do the same and what areas we need to focus on to help keep people from doing it again.
3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF WHY WHAT YOU DID WAS HURTFUL: Please take the time to acknowledge why what you did is so bad. In Bryant’s case he could have said, “A lot of athletes use slurs like faggot all the time. It’s insulting to gay people and women and makes sports lovers of all types think that sort of behavior is OK, but it’s not. It contributes to a hateful atmosphere where people can’t be themselves for fear of personal insult.”
See how grown-up, educational, and self-aware that sounds? You’re already on your way to developing a soul…
4. WHAT YOU’RE GONNA DO ABOUT IT: Read on…
You’re a celebrity. You make more money than we’ll ever waste in a lifetime. So why not just donate the spare million dollars you have laying around the bathroom and several months of your time to a gay group that works against whatever crap you just promoted?
Anti-gay slur? Give to GLSEN and do some community work with GLAAD.
Wanna stab a gay kid? Give to homeless gay youth and visit with gay-bashing victims.
Be sure to make a public statement talking about why the group’s work matters and what you hope others will learn by your example.
Then, when it’s all over, release another statement talking about your experience and how it opened your eyes, changed your heart, and help you envision a better tomorrow where your kind isn’t tolerated.
Go do the talk show circuit, the morning news program circle jerks, and the late night talk show gauntlet to highlight how much you suck, how you deserve the public scorn, and what you’re doing about it. If possible, make it entertaining with teary-eyed groveling, a comic skit re-enacting your offense, or a musical number explaining why you’re a d-bag—we love musicals.
We’re not talking about the forced, X-Tube quality schlock that Bryant pooped out telling everyone to be nice to everybody all the time. We’re talking about a professional quality video with lighting, makeup, music, and writing that specifically tells other people not to do what you did (kinda like the one above). Also, get some of your celebrity friends to take part. In fact, we won’t forgive you unless you drag at least two other celebrities in on your YouTube PSA.
And hell, why not be all 21st century about it and also start a Facebook page, a web campaign with lots of banner ads, and print ads? For every medium you use, you will get one princess point (but just one). And make sure to end each PSA with a mention of where people can donate or go to learn more.
An anti-gay celebrity action inevitably comes with the calls that said celebrity be fired. We agree. Saying nigger or kyke will get you fired—saying faggot should have the same effect.
But seeing as celebs and their promoters aren’t likely to give up their multi-million dollar careers, the celeb can pre-empt such calls by promising to disappear for a while, say six months minimum. Think of it as a “time out” for jerks.
That way, you can think about what you did, the bad press can blow over, and you can show that you give enough of a crap about your employer not to associate them with your bad behavior.
And for God’s sake don’t go to rehab. Rehab for homophobia? Really?! Lame.
Considering Morgan’s past anti-gay statements, we should have no illusions that his current apologetic actions come wholly from a desire to save his career rather than a genuine change of heart. And y’know what? We’re fine with that.
As long as homophobia exists (re: forever) some people will thinks queers deserve to be called “faggot”, stabbed, disowned, blackmailed, whatever. Our set penance list doesn’t promote the idea that once can easily get forgiven for condoning anti-gay behavior—our list isn’t easy. It requires time, work, financial investment, career sacrifice, repeated public apology, and a boatload of crow eating. Yummy.
But going through our Purgatory might not change an anti-gay celebrity’s heart—only they can do that. This is about changing other people’s perceptions more than their own and planting seeds so hope can grow in the places scorched by their hateful actions.