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Tracy Morgan’s Las Vegas show is drawing heavy fire

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Tracy Morgan’s homophobic remarks at a June 3 appearance in Nashville, Tennessee, have sparked outrage nationwide. Now he’s coming to Las Vegas, and some don’t want him here.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

Tracy Morgan, mired in controversy over anti-gay comments he made during an appearance earlier this month in Nashville, Tennessee, is coming to Las Vegas.

And the reaction so far is not good.

The announcement of Morgan’s September 4 show at the Joint came Monday morning. Shortly after that the Las Vegas Weekly Facebook page offered a ticket giveaway, and within a few hours more than two dozen comments had gone up, including:

“Not after his homophobic tirade!”

“HELL NO! BIGOTED ASS!”

“Not a chance in hell.”

“I don’t give my money to unfunny homophobes ...”

Las Vegas Weekly ... shame on you for promoting this guy ...” (It should be noted that such Facebook giveaways are common for many Vegas shows, and in no way constitute an editorial endorsement.)

Derek Washington, chair of the Stonewall Democratic Club, which seeks to educate others as to the needs of the LGBT community, says the timing of the announcement is tasteless at best, at worst insulting. “This is almost like a giant ‘f*ck you’ to the gay community,” Washington says. “The Joint should be ashamed of itself.”

At press time, representatives from the Hard Rock Hotel and promoter AEG had not responded to the Weekly’s requests for comments.

Morgan’s June 3 act, recounted by audience member Kevin Rogers, contained the following bits:

On being gay: “God don’t make no mistakes; all this gay stuff is bullshit.”

On lesbians: “There is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that’s just a woman pretending because she hates a f*cking man.”

On family relationships with gay members: “If my son were gay he better come home and talk to me like a man and not [like a homosexual] or I’d pull out a knife and stab that little n***** to death.”

Gay and lesbian groups nationwide, including the Human Rights Campaign, have condemned Morgan’s statements. Morgan apologized last week, but it left many unsatisfied, Washington included.

“As a black man, I was embarrassed. We should know more than anyone else about spouting hate speech like that,” Washington says. “He’s talking about killing his kid for being gay, and around the world a lot of parents DO kill their kids for being gay.”

It’s not just the LGBT community that’s up in arms over Morgan’s statements. Some of his fellow standup comedians have said they have a problem with them, too.

“There’s always a line, and sometimes comedians don’t know where the line is,” Las Vegas Strip headliner George Wallace told the Weekly. “Tracy has only been doing standup a short time, two or three years, and he doesn’t know where the line is.”

His relative inexperience, however, doesn’t excuse what he said, adds Wallace, who called Morgan’s comments offensive. “Times have changed,” he says. “You’ve got to watch what you say these days.”

In a series of tweets, standup comedian Wanda Sykes called Morgan's bit "dangerous," adding, "I do believe in free speech, but for a youth in TN or any other numerous place, Tracy just yelled, 'Fire,' in a crowded theater."

As for the targets of Morgan’s homophobic bit, Wallace says, “Live and let live. You don’t force your opinions on other people.”

All Morgan can do now, Wallace says, is “apologize, apologize, apologize—and maybe he should just take a break for a while.”

Washington, however, says apologies aren’t enough, adding Las Vegas is one of the top gay tourist destinations in the world and that his organization would encourage those tourists not to stay at the Hard Rock. “They spend millions and millions here … We’ll definitely be talking to the people at the Joint.”

Washington would like to turn the whole episode into a teachable moment. “I’d like to take him on a tour of our gay and lesbian center. Tell him, ‘Just shut the hell up and listen.’” In addition, Washington suggested Morgan should hold a concert here to benefit the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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