Unapologetic Homophobe Isaiah Washington Welcomed Back To “Grey’s Anatomy”

Greys Anatomy Stars Get HitchedSeven years is long enough for gay people to forget about that raging homophobe that was fired for calling his gay coworker a “faggot,” right?

Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes seems to think so.

Homophobic actor Isaiah Washington, who played Dr. Preston Burke during the first three season of the wildly popular medical drama, was fired in 2006 after referring to his out costar T.R. Knight as a “faggot” in a verbal altercation on set. He thinks his dismissal was “racist.”

The Hollywood Reporter revealed this week that Washington’s character will return to Grey’s as a guest star in May because Rhimes believes homophobic men who freely drop the fag-bomb are “vital to the journey” of fictional characters in her show.

Dr. Burke was the love interest of Dr. Christina Yang, played by Sandra Oh, for the first three seasons before he was written out of the series. Oh announced that she will be leaving the series this season, and Rhimes wants to bring noted homophobe Washington back to “give her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Christina Yang.”

Knight left the series shortly after Washington in 2009, when Rhimes punished him for forcing her to fire Washington by drastically cutting his screen time. Washington never officially issued an apology, instead claiming that he “regretted” using the word and personally apologized to members of the cast.

Washington won’t have the chance to call Knight a “faggot” again on set, but one thing’s for sure — Rhimes will feel right at home (at least for one episode) with a fellow homophobe back in her corner.

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  • pazmateo

    I would say that your article is more than a little dramatic. He did apologize when it happened, and he hasn’t really gotten any work after the fact. I would say that’s punishment enough. I’m not saying what he did was okay, but I would hardly call him an “unapologetic homophobe”. Can’t we just let his failure as an actor speak for itself?

  • Kieran

    He was invited back? Why? Nobody missed seeing this prick’s face. Would they invite back an anti-Semite for a guest appearance?

  • hotshot70

    maybe he will get killed off. A gay group gives him a “blanket party”, Knight’s character punches him square in the nose, a Gay Pride float runs him down, etc.

  • balehead

    The was a total witch hunt at the time…and still is…

  • Matthew Tharrett

    @pazmateo: Unapologetic homophobe = A homophobe who does not apologize for his homophobic actions.

    As clearly stated in the article, he did not apologize for his actions. I won’t tolerate comments attempting to spread misinformation.

  • Cam

    Actually those of you claiming this was a witch hunt. Yeah, nice try, if anything the posting glossed over the actual facts.

    He wasn’t fired for a verbal altercation, he was fired after physically assaulting the star of the show and choking him while screaming that he wasn’t his Fa***t.

    Remind me how many OTHER work places would not fire a guy for beating and choking somebody AND using hate speech against them in the break room?

  • Caleb in SC

    @Matthew Tharrett: If you report the news, you should not become part of the story. Let your work stand on its own and intelligent readers will separate the wheat from the chaff.

  • Fang

    This is less important, but it’s written that Christina Yang is played by Christina Oh. It’s definitely Sandra Oh. Get my girl’s name straight. :P

  • samwise343

    @balehead: After the show won a Golden Globe, members of the press asked Washington about the incident in question. He said, “I never used a slang word for a gay person to TJ.” Oh wait, no he didn’t say that. He actually, “I never called TJ a faggot.” Washington actually used those words. Try defending that.

  • Geeker

    I never liked his character anyway,he was obnoxious and angry all the time so I guess he was playing himself.

  • Sexy Rexy

    If we can forgive Don Imus and Dog the Bounty Hunter for their slurs against people of color, I think we can forgive Isaiah.

  • samwise343

    @Sexy Rexy: No, we don’t. And the fuck forgave those assholes?

  • Cam


    One thing that confuses me about Washington is the number of people seemingly ready to completely lie about him. Why would you do that?

    1. He was fired not simply for hate speech, but for physically attacking and choking the star of the show also.

    2. Claiming that he hasn’t worked since this happened is a complete lie. He was cast in the series “Bionic Woman” the very next season after he left. Although the series was cancelled after one season it got a huge P.R. push from the studio and was a major role. He has continued to work steadily since. I’m pasting the IMDB link below. So again, why would you lie about that?


  • gskorich

    time to let things go. so he said faggot. big shit i think the gay community is bigger than one word

  • Arkansassy

    Good to see blacklisting is alive and well in the 21st century and Queerty is leading the charge.

  • bma83

    We all make mistakes and we all deserve second chances. Even third and fourth chances.

  • Cam


    Once again, I have posted up here twice that he physically assaulted and choked the star of the show. Why are folks continually posting that all he did was say one word?

    Is there some sort of weird concerted effort to lie about this guy? Please name me ANY other form of employment where somebody who physically attacked a co-worker and chokes them would have even a QUESTION about being fired?

    As for “Black Listing” being alive. So lets see, blacklisting somebody who again, assaulted and choked a co-worker? That isn’t black listing. And the fact that Rimes would hire back such a person opens her up to a massive suit the next time he does it.

  • Niall

    Since when is Shonda Rhimes homophobic?

  • Persa

    He deserved to be fired for losing his temper and using a horrible word and getting into a physical altercation. But I think the response to the incident from folks outside of the show was overkill.

    I don’t believe for one second that he was ever homophobic. I believe he used a horrible word in a moment of anger at a co-worker and THEY got into a fist fight because of it. The mere fact that someone says the world “faggot” does not make them a homophobe. As a culture we tend to use horrible words reflexively and we all have to unlearn that tendency. The use of a word in a moment of anger and frustration may or may not indicate some deeper feelings but it’s not as black and white as folks are making it.

    He never called his gay co-worker a faggot (which is what people outside of the incident accused him of) and there was no actual gay man involved in the incident. He did use the word in anger and he was punished for it and he apologized.

    They both fought. Patrick Dempsey confirmed that in subsequent interviews that he and I.W. were BOTH out of line in that altercation. They both got angry and said horrible things. None of us know what lead to that blow up, it could have been a long time coming and just happen to erupt in that moment. Only the two men involved know what was really going on and Patrick Demsey said that they made up soon afterward. It was not an attack. It was a physical altercation between two grown men that escalated and was subsequently resolved.

    Again, I think he SHOULD have been fired and I think that was punishment enough. He’s not some gay basher. We have no evidence that he ever did or said anything before or after this that was homophobic or gay-hating. He just happens to be a man who did a stupid, fucked up thing and he paid for it.

    The demonization of I.W. went beyond the incident in question. I don’t think you have to be an “apologist” to see that.

    We all do stupid shit when we are angry and we should all just be happy we aren’t famous and don’t have a million strangers commenting on us in our worst moments because the results would not be cute at all.

    How many of us have had people in our own lives use the word faggot in a way that was upsetting and subsequently learn how horrible that is and correct their thinking about it? Just because he’s a famous, Black, male, actor doesn’t mean he can’t learn from his mistakes and become better for it.

    I would also hardly categorize the phrase “I did not call him a faggot” to be a homophobic statement. It was true and it was a statement of fact.

    The word “faggot” is not Voldemort. It does not have the power to destroy us upon its mere utterance.

  • Cam

    @Persa: said….

    “He never called his gay co-worker a faggot (which is what people outside of the incident accused him of) and there was no actual gay man involved in the incident.

    Once again, why are people trying to change history. He told Dempsey “I’m not your F****T like Knight!. So not only did he assault and choke Dempsey but he didn’t indeed reference Knight when using the word.

    Why is it that any time somebody posts what actually happened another post comes in here and tries to change the actual facts of the case?

  • Cam

    @Niall: said…

    “Since when is Shonda Rhimes homophobic?”

    Gee, since she angrily denied that Washington would be fired, and he only left after a huge backlash. Then she forced out Knight later on. You know…the gay one.

  • Mdterp01

    Would he have been dismissed if he was a white guy who said the “N” word? Yes! Would he have been allowed to come back if he said the “N” word? No. Now just like I’m over Paula Deen and her ignorant ass comments about Black people, I’m over this Washington thing. Yes when you are in the public eye you have a greater responsibility to keep “kitchen table talk” to the kitchen table. But, they don’t deserve to lose their livelihood for stupidness.

  • Niall

    @Cam: Thanks. Sorry, I didn’t really follow the entire mess. Did she really force out T.R.Knight? Idk, she seems to have a good track record of inclusiveness(gay characters) on her shows. Greys, Scandal..

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