Washington Meets With Gay Leaders
Under fire for using a gay slur about a co-star, Isaiah Washington met on Monday with gay rights activists who said he agreed to help educate the public about the cruelty of such language.
"He seemed very sincere in his interest in working with us in an ongoing basis," Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. "We emphasized that this is not a one-shot deal, but an ongoing thing. He was very open to doing this."
The star of the hit ABC medical drama met with Jennings, who spoke after the private meeting, and Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). A call to Washington's publicist for comment was not immediately returned Monday.
According to Jennings, Isaiah Washington said he wanted to explore ways to work with GLSEN to address issues of "name calling and how he might use his various platforms to educate people about how painful and wrong it is."
By coincidence, Jennings noted, Monday was the start of "No Name-Calling Week," coordinated by GLSEN with national educational partners to help schools find ways to eliminate bullying and slurs of all kinds. His group welcomed Washington's help in promoting the group's agenda.
Jennings noted that Washington, who has three children with his wife, Jenisa, said he understands how the issue effects young people.
Washington, who stepped away from filming for the hour-long meeting, said he is interested in pursuing various options, such as public-service announcements. No firm agreements were reached, the GLSEN director said.
"I think this is a very good first step toward him showing he really wants to do something. We take him at his word," Jennings said.
Last October, it was reported that Washington used the term "faggot" about castmate T.R. Knight during an on-set argument with Patrick Dempsey. He used it again backstage at the January 15 Golden Globes as he denied ever uttering it.
Washington issued an apology after he was publicly criticized by GLAAD and chastised by ABC.
Despite the negative attention, ABC led nominees announced Sunday for the 18th annual GLAAD Media Awards, recognizing "mainstream media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender... community and the issues that affect their lives."