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Nia Vardalos Headshot

It's Time

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I don't know Tracy Morgan.

I don't work for NBC.

I'm not a lesbian.

Or a gay man.

So, it would seem there isn't a reason for me to give much thought to his damaging words.

Except, one.

Enough is enough.

I would like to apologize to our entire gay and lesbian community that this hate still exists. I'm sorry someone can stand on a stage, spew violent, hateful words and images, then issue an apology, be described as not-really-like-that by his employers and co-workers, and go back to work.

Sure, we got the statements. Right away, people who know him issued words explaining his behavior and saying he's actually not really like that.

Oh.

So, that's it? We get a few statements from the people who work with him, and we all forget about it?

Not this time.

I want more. And, I respectfully request more. Much more.

When does the hate against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, end?

Sure, a writer or comedian riffing, working out material, often goes to strange and dark places. Editing is discouraged, because part of the journey is surprise and discovery. But what we discovered about Tracy Morgan is deeply disturbing.

He is homophobic.

His employers now know this about him. And, I don't think he should simply be vilified and shunned. Nor, just apologized for. I am optimistic wonderful Tina Fey and the brilliant writers won't just reference it on the show in a cute and sweet way, thus dealing with the incident with a wink and a nod. I hope NBC does more than issue a statement.

What I'm yearning for is simple: we've discovered Tracy Morgan has a problem, and now he needs help. There must be some result, more than a few apologies. Maybe this is a way to open the dialogue. Maybe sensitivity training. It happened. Let's address it and learn from it.

Or, is it now a question of a hate crime and a consequence?

When Isaiah Washington reportedly uttered homophobic slurs on Grey's Anatomy, he was fired. Perhaps, because he said it at work? Maybe he created an unsafe working environment, and was therefore asked to leave.

So, are we to assume Tracy Morgan has never expressed his innermost feelings about gay and lesbian people at work? Really? Ever? I wonder if his co-workers feel safe and at ease. The problem is, we've all seen it: this sort of joke is usually greeted with a laugh. Even an uncomfortable one, to ease the tension, is condoning the message.

There are reports that while some were angry, many people in the audience that evening, laughed.

That offends me. And, worries me. We live in an unsafe world. There are children and adults who go to school and work every day, knowing there are people who feel the same way as Tracy Morgan. They now know there was an audience who did not stand up and walk out when a man talked about stabbing his son if that child revealed himself to be gay. Stabbing. His son.

I feel sorry for Tracy Morgan. He revealed something about his feelings that show a deep fear. I hope he gets treatment for his problem. Thanks to the Internet, his words will be out there forever.

So, it happened. What do we do now? How this issue is dealt with will reveal a lot about our society and our ever-evolving levels of tolerance and acceptance of our gay and lesbian community.

As I said earlier, I am hopeful, I am optimistic.

But, it's time for this hate to end.