By Neil Woulfe - Radar News Director
Check out Kevin Rogers' brand new Facebook page photo!
Yes, the 36-year-old from White House, Tennessee is posing side-by-side with comedian Tracy Morgan, who's anti-gay rant at a theater in Nashville earlier this month inspired Rogers to write a now infamous Facebook entry slamming his act.
Rogers posted the photo after appearing at a much-watched news conference Tuesday during which Morgan made a heartfelt apology for his tirade at the Ryman Auditorium on June 3.
After the news conference, Rogers was besieged by interview requests, and by the time he went to bed Tuesday night, he was understandably exhausted. But before he called it a night, he agreed to do one final interview -- only with RadarOnline.com -- to reflect on Morgan's heartfelt apology, what the 30 Rock star told him in private, and the somewhat surprising reaction from people to his Facebook entry that ignited the controversy-- including from people within the LGBT community.
Radar: When the cameras were not there, before his statement in front of reporters, what did Morgan say to you personally?
Kevin: Tracy said that he was sorry that he'd "bummed" me out and that he wanted me to look in his eyes and see he meant his apology. He placed his arms on my shoulders and looked my in the eyes and said 'I didn't mean to hurt anyone, I'm truly sorry.'
Radar: What did you tell him?
Kevin: Really nothing. I've had two weeks of getting to use my voice. I wanted him to have the opportunity in that moment to use his for something better. I told him that all was forgiven, and I understood that he made a huge mistake.
Radar: Morgan seemed genuinely contrite during his statement to reporters. What was your impression of his demeanor?
Kevin: He showed and told us in the private meeting that he was hurting inside for what he'd said and the idea that he'd potentially hurt other people. I truly believe he's been really affected by this and that he wants to, as he called it, "make it right" Found out from GLAAD and Tracy that there has been no pressure for him to do any of this; Tracy called GLAAD and said he wanted their help... they didn't call him.
Radar: At one point, during his statement, Morgan said: 'I don't have a hateful bone in my body." Do you believe him?
Kevin: I truly don't believe he does.
Radar: Was there anything in particular that Morgan said in his statement that struck you?
Kevin: Nothing that he said, I just felt his pain. I actually felt really bad for him. He mentioned that he really just though he was comic and never realized how far his "voice" travels.
Radar: After his statement, did you and Morgan say anything to each other?
Kevin: Tracy thanked me for becoming a new friend in his life. We just had some idle chit chat and another hug or two.
Radar: Morgan recently met with gay youth in New York and he's agreed to tape a PSA for GLAAD. Did he talk about the steps he is taking to make amends to the gay community.
Kevin: He mentioned those things as well as some stuff he's asked NBC to help him with. He said he was going to change his act to make sure that he's not "hurting" people.
Radar: Do you think you and Morgan will stay in touch?
Kevin: I think I'll hear from him at some point, I most certainly don't expect daily "how was your day" phone calls or us becoming the next Oprah and Gail.
Radar: I know you do not feel any ill will toward Morgan, but would you ever see his stand-up show again?
Kevin: After today, of course I would. I also think he'd want me to as well. I'm pretty sure I'd get comp'd those tickets too! lol
Radar: What has been the reaction from the gay community toward you? After all, it was your Facebook entry that sparked a national conversation about the hurtfulness of anti-gay rhetoric, even when it comes in the form of so-called comedy.
Kevin: I'm loved and hated. 98% love, 2% hate. I've been called a hero and I've been called a disgrace to the city of Nashville and it's gay community. I've been accused of trying to re-write the constitution and take away free speech. I've been called out for being willing to forgive and being told I should hate.