Isaiah Washington | News | Patrick Dempsey | T.R. Knight | Television

ABC Must Fire Isaiah Washington Over Anti-gay Remarks

Calls are ringing out throughout the blogosphere for some kind of response from Washington and ABC. A petition has sprung up online in a bid to have ABC fire Washington for his ongoing slurs against gay people. (I wish someone would go in and correct the spelling in the petition but I suppose it's the message that's important.)

Washington_1In an interview with AfterElton, director and producer Paris Barclay gave his opinion about what should happen: "Here's what needs to happen: ABC, from Steve McPherson [ABC President] on down, need to condemn this kind of hate-speak, and Isaiah needs to be fired. It's just that simple. He needs to go. He's a homophobe and a liar, and no matter how important he may appear to be, there has to be a line on what behavior is acceptable both on the set and when representing the show to the press."

Meanwhile, GLAAD yesterday issued a statement calling for Washington to apologize and make amends, and announcing that they're contacting Washington's "people" to arrange a meeting with the actor.

Said GLAAD President Neil Giuliano: "When Isaiah Washington uses this kind of anti-gay slur — whether on set or in front of the press — it does more than create a hostile environment for his castmates and the crew of Grey's Anatomy. It also feeds a climate of hatred and intolerance that contributes to putting our community in harm's way. As Ellen pointed out in her discussion with T.R., this is a word that's used to abuse kids on school playgrounds. We also know that, tragically, this sometimes can be the last word people hear before they're attacked, beaten and possibly even killed. Washington's repeated use of it on-set and in the media is simply inexcusable. We want to sit down with him and give him an opportunity to raise public awareness about the destructive impact of these kinds of anti-gay slurs. Over the past four months Washington has become part of a significant problem of anti-gay prejudice in this country. He has an opportunity now to be part of the solution."

Unfortunately, the time for hand-holding and apologies has long passed.

Washington had his opportunity to make amends over the remarks, and instead he chose to lie.

Isaiah Washington needs to be fired from Grey's Anatomy. It is past time for ABC to take action and show that they will not tolerate the use of hateful language towards gay people now, or at any point in the future.

The longer ABC waits to formulate a response to these incidents, the more they become complicit in what has occurred.

The background...
T.R. Knight Discusses Anti-gay slur on Ellen [tr]
T.R. Knight Confirms Details of Washington's Homophobic Slur [tr]
Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl Scolds Washington for Slur [tr]
Isaiah Washington Still Obsessed with TR Knight [tr]
Grey's Anatomy Actor T.R. Knight: "I'm Gay" [tr]
Tab: Isaiah Washington Used Gay Slur in Grey's Anatomy Brawl [tr]

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  1. (shouldn't have said anything...)

    I honestly don't know. I don't know who's right. I will say that Washington was wrong to lie about it; that's always stupid, especially if the co-star you're lying about has an appearance on a popular talk show within the next few days and a fairly large and vocal fan base. And in case anyone's wondering, I'm totally on Knight's side, here. I don't know if firing Washington over this exactly is right, but it probably constitutes workplace sexual harassment, which is a fireable offense.

    Johnny - Perspective isn't saying suck it up. I hate that, too. He's saying that rather than going nuts and holding rallies in the streets, we should calmly show them the error of their ways. "Speak softly and carry a big stick", you know.

    Posted by: Thor | Jan 18, 2007 1:56:38 PM

  2. Thor -

    I hear ya, but it was the phrase "and move on" in Perspective's comment that bothered me. It seems to dismiss any consequences for Washington, which I can't agree with at this point.

    Posted by: Johnny | Jan 18, 2007 2:02:13 PM

  3. sentiments exactly (and nicely written)!

    Thor...Washington did not say the word 'faggot' in private, he hurled them at a colleague in the workplace...just before or after physically assaulting another colleague.

    Curious...I find it interesting, and profoundly silly, that when reporting on another person's use of an offensive term, we feel the need to say "S/He used the 'N' word" or "S/He usd the 'F' word" opposed to simply saying "S/He used the word 'nigger" or "S/He used the word 'fuck'/'faggot'". I think saying 'the F-word' and 'the N-word' actually gives those hateful terms more power than they deserve.

    Posted by: peterparker | Jan 18, 2007 2:07:03 PM

  4. If the man had just admitted he said it, and apologized, I dont think anybody would be talking about this anymore. A lot of people say things in the heat of the moment that they don't mean or dont believe. Its the fact that the went out of his way to grab the microphone in the press room and flat out lie about something that everybody knows he said, and then continue to deny it afterwards that is upsetting. I was so glad to see Katherine and TR talking about this after the fact, I hope the two of them stand strong and fight for what they believe in. Rosie and the girls on the View will be discussing this tomorrow.

    Posted by: Chris | Jan 18, 2007 2:19:20 PM

  5. Sillier still is the fact that some people have no problem using either of those words within a certain social group or situation, even using it themselves, but those same folks will find it absolutely outrageous, insulting and offensive when either of those words is used by someone of a different social group.

    If these words are 'BAD' (whatever that means) then they shouldn't be used by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Enough of the double-standards.

    Then again, words only have the power that we ascribe to them. If 'we' choose to be victims to words, it's not the words' fault any more than it is the fault of the person who used a word that makes you feel weak or under-valued.

    Posted by: MikeinSanJose | Jan 18, 2007 2:26:32 PM

  6. Washington absolutely deserves an equal consequence to his actions. That being said, where the fuck is GLAAD when Shirley Q. Liquor uses the gay community to get racist opinions off his chest?

    Posted by: 000000 | Jan 18, 2007 3:20:25 PM

  7. Hollywood insiders would look at our arguments and think we are nuts. With all the bad, boorish, mean-spirited and selfish behavior that passes for normal in H-Town, what IW did was no big deal. People in power there treat others like dirt and make a big deal about it. Personal "assistants" do the most demeaning chores. Actors have to sleep their way into parts. I could imagine a lot of resentment building up against gay producers by str8 actors after all the times they get propositioned. Remember that celebs get away with murder in LA. We sound like a bunch of Yahoos over this.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 18, 2007 3:26:08 PM

  8. I love the passionate way you guys are feeling about it, it's making me think!! I notice there's been a shift in the way gays respond to their kind being attacked lately, with Rosie, and now TR. It wasn't to this extent before and I'm glad.

    Personally, I don't know what to think over it to be honest. I'm wondering if Isaiah getting fired will move the sympathy towards him instead, which isn't what we want. And I'm pondering if there isnt an opportunity for teaching here? or maybe the lesson must be made out of *him* to show other Hollywood bigots that the gays cannot be treated like crap in the industry anymore. Cause they do from a business standpoint, and it has got to STOP!

    Posted by: Da | Jan 18, 2007 4:51:11 PM

  9. It is not about misplaced or even properly placed sympathy. It is about the consequences of actions. IW denegrated a fellow worker with a homophobic slur in the workplace, issued a non-apology apology, compounded his offenses by repeating the slur and then lying about uttering it, made it worse by further denegrating gay men with his public comments at a work related event and yet some are asking us (gay men) who were slurred by inference to "put it behind us" or "move on" or settle for his receiving couseling, when it is the perpetrator who should be punished. Suck it up. Real men take responsibility for their actions. Corporations (including those in the entertainment industy) should also be required to take responsibility for the actions of their employees. If the slur were an ehtnic or racial slur there would not have been a discussion or a delay. We should demand that the same standard be applied to homophobis rants regardless of subjective intent on the part of the speaker. True, IW has revealed himself to be a homophobic liar but that is insufficient. He should be called to account and suffer the appropriate punishment.

    Posted by: rudy | Jan 18, 2007 5:33:18 PM

  10. Bravo Jeff and Rudy. Those who think nothing should be done are frankly part of the problem. Grow some already and stand up for yourself, no one else will do it for you.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 18, 2007 6:26:55 PM

  11. Hey, Reggie, if you're gonna call me a "nigger" than spell it out. Don't act like you're somehow being less of an ass by saying "N", you're just being a punk to boot. Maybe when gay people stop acting like black people are somehow obligated to be tolerant of them, black people would'nt feel so alienated. And if you say, "So, that means gays arent obligated to be non-racist, right?" I say yes. But you have to be accepting of other races beacuse:

    1. It's the right thing. Duh.

    2. Obviously all those gay magazines and "Queer As Folk" has gotten to some of your heads. Because you seem to think gays are only white, young, urban, white,thin, attractive a.k.a white, and well off. Well, guees what? There are more black people in the gay community than there are gay people in the black community. In other words, the black community can afford to ignore its gay members. The gay community can't blow off its black members,or hispanic and asian for that matter. You guys need as much unity as you can get.

    3. The black community by and large, is very religous. You can't expect them to just accecpt and understand you when you don't seem all that interested in accepting and understanding their culture. Most black people think gays are just rich white people(cuz thats the media image that gets out most), not the kind of people who should be complaining about civil rights. Reach out to "regular" black folks, the MIGHT reach out more to you.

    3. I hear this same tired "If someone called Issiah a n*gger, he woulda got fired." Yes. Racism is seen as MUCH mor damaging than homophobia. Instead of bitching about it, do something about it. Something that doesnt include bringing up n*gger or any other slur. Black people arent the ones fighting for equality, gay people are. Black people already won their equality(kinda). If you guys are seen as not inclusive, you are never gonna get equality. And what about hispanics? The largest minority in the nation and still rapidly growing, they are as if not more religous nad opposed to homosexuality than blacks. You gonna call sp*c when a hispanic says something homophobic? Racial minorities have more clout than sexual minorities, accept it and reach out.

    Look at me for example. I'm black, a big supporter of gay rights, and disgusted by Issiah Washington. But I'm not gay. This doesnt affect me quite as much. So, when I see the racist comments I've seen on this and other pisses me off, it makes me believe I shouldnt waste my time worrying about the rights and feelings of people who see me and people who look like me as "n*ggers" when something goes wrong. It brings out that knee jerk reaction that everybody has to support "their own", to think "Fuck these racist f@ggots, I hope Issiah gets off," and support my fellow black man. Maybe that's how Shonda Rimes feels. Some people, trolls or not, are making it harder and harder for me to see past Issiah's race and look only at his behavior, since they can't do the same. I bet I'm not the only black person who feels that way and thats not good news for gay people. You need our support much more than we need yours. And to a lot of people, you're gonna have to work for it, because, frankly, we don't owe you shit.

    Posted by: FanGirlHater | Jan 18, 2007 6:59:19 PM

  12. ignore the typos...I'm a horrible typer. I'm gonna stop trying. Typing hurts my fingers anyway.

    Posted by: FanGirlHater | Jan 18, 2007 7:05:15 PM

  13. Excellent post FanGirlHater.

    Posted by: EireKev | Jan 18, 2007 7:14:18 PM

  14. "Look at me for example. I'm black, a big supporter of gay rights, and disgusted by Issiah Washington. But I'm not gay. "

    So you're a big supporter of gay rights, yet your position against someone who repeatedly hurts and lashes out at a co-star who did nothing to him is affected because of trolls on a message board?


    I have been called "faggot" and "cocksucker" by some black people from the time I was in school to present day. I've seen some of my friends beaten up. Others were just harassed day after day.

    Does that mean I hold this against all black people and oppose things like affirmative action, or the fight for civil rights?


    I don't judge an entire group of people by trolls on a message board.

    "I bet I'm not the only black person who feels that way and thats not good news for gay people."

    If it's that easy for you to turn against TR Knight, who has done absolutely nothing in this situation, then what in the world are we supposed to say? Are we supposed to promise that no trolls will ever inhabit this board? Are we supposed to say that no gay person in the world will ever make a racist statement?

    I'm so sick of the idea that gays are a monolith and that if one of them does or says something wrong, then we must all be damned.

    Posted by: Jon | Jan 18, 2007 8:12:51 PM

  15. "So you're a big supporter of gay rights, yet your position against someone who repeatedly hurts and lashes out at a co-star who did nothing to him is affected because of trolls on a message board?"

    Not affected, I still think Issiah should be fired. But did the trolls and the clueless people who sound like trolls even if they don't see it trigger a response in me that I think is pretty human to side with your own when you feel they are under attack, especially unfairly under attack(for his race not his remarks), yeah they're getting to me. If you think I should get tougher skin if I let these idiots get to me...tell T.R. Knight to get tougher skin, too.

    "If it's that easy for you to turn against TR Knight, who has done absolutely nothing in this situation, then what in the world are we supposed to say?"

    When did I say anything bad about T.R. Knight? He seems like a great guy, and I feel for him. He did nothing wrong.

    "I'm so sick of the idea that gays are a monolith and that if one of them does or says something wrong, then we must all be damned."

    Replace "gays" with "blacks" in that statement and you took the words right out of my mouth. =)

    Posted by: FanGirlHater | Jan 18, 2007 9:07:51 PM

  16. Come on -- nobody cares who watches this show. The only thing they care about is that they can sell advertising time on it. GLAAD should be lobbying the Ad agencies and their clients that buy the ad space, letting them know that their association with a media outlet that enables public expression of bigotry and discrimination is a bad investment and very bad for THEIR business.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 19, 2007 11:27:27 PM

  17. If the "n" word was used I'm sure Issiah would have something to say, and a bunch more would too. So what's the differance?

    Posted by: jon | Jan 20, 2007 7:55:40 PM

  18. We at Disparaging Terms are not happy with Isaiah Washington's use of the Disparaging Term Faggot. While unpleased with him, we ARE NOT calling for his Termination from the show. We recognize that a simple apology is not enough, so we recommend that he take the Disparaging Terms Pledge at and that he undergo sensitivity/social awareness training.

    Disparaging Terms.Com

    Posted by: Darrell | Jan 20, 2007 9:52:35 PM

  19. washington has to go and go now. I still do not shop at Macy's for them not retracting the removed window displayin Boston and never will again. I will use their restrooms all over the country if i need to. I will not watch Greys anatomy. I found the producers nervous laughter a subconcious attempt to minimize the effects that gay people feel regarding his remarks. The nerve and the gaul coming out of the mouth of an african american. We have alway been in the streets supporting and advocating african american equality. Isaiah Washington obviously has achieved much to much success too fast through luck to appreciate his audience. Goodbye Isaiah Washington. Get lost. You are forgiven but you lose your job. People sit in jail for less than what you did.

    Posted by: lj | Jan 21, 2007 8:10:34 PM

  20. I am so sick of these double standards, and I agree with you. For instance, i am a Christian. I love everyone the same, and I would never degrade someone, but I believe being gay is a sin. I have gay friends, I don't insult them but they know how I feel and I leave it at that. Although i don't degrade or insult people, they still find a way to insult me and all Christians and I am sick of it. Like the GD word for instance, what is that? They say it all of the time, yet Isaiah says the F word and he could lose his job? Michel Richards can't perform at the laugh factory anymore? What is the world coming to when being a Christian is looked down upon more than being Gay?

    Posted by: Tiffany | Jan 24, 2007 2:23:22 AM

  21. ABC Just write Washington out of the script. Your viewers are no longer interested in seeing him or Dr. Burke. Give TR Knight a stronger roll and give some other fine black actor the spot light. It's time for a change. Let's end the season on a pleasant note.

    Posted by: Jake | Jan 24, 2007 11:00:42 PM

  22. Like I just said on the pevious post. He has been fired.

    Posted by: Otto | May 24, 2007 1:03:58 PM

  23. His contract has not been 're-newed'.

    Posted by: Otto | May 24, 2007 1:06:59 PM

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