Isaiah Washington’s public service announcement regarding intolerance will debut tonight during two back-to-back repeat episodes of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The PSA is the result of a January meeting with Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Kevin Jennings, founder and executive director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), during which the actor apologized for his use of an anti-gay slur on the set of “Grey’s” in October (and again at The Golden Globes awards this past January).
The use of the slur was in reference to Washington’s co-star, T.R. Knight, who came out as openly gay soon afterward — opening up about how the situation affected him when he appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
“I’ve never been called that to my face,” Knight told Ellen. “When that happened, something shifted and it became bigger than myself.”
After being criticized by GLAAD and the ABC network, Washington issued an apology and sought counseling over the incident.
At the January meeting with Giuliano and Jennings, Washington acknowledged the harm he had caused by his use of the slur, took on a new publicist and expressed an interest in taking steps — such as appearing in this PSA — to combat prejudice and intolerance faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The PSA was produced by ABC.
“Words have power, and far too often we see them used to dehumanize people because of our differences,” said Giuliano, when announcing tonight’s PSA debut. “When Isaiah Washington lends his voice to that message when he acknowledges the personal responsibility that he and each of us have to create a culture that rejects prejudice it advances the kind of dialogue thats absolutely essential to changing hearts and minds. We are gratified that with this PSA, ABC will be sharing this vital message with millions of viewers in the days and weeks to come.”
The script for Washington’s PSA reads: “Words have power. The power to express love, happiness and joy. They also have the power to heal. When you use words that demean a person because of their sexual orientation, race or gender, you send a message of hate. A very powerful message. But we all have the power to demand better from one another and from ourselves. We have the power to heal and change the world by the words we use.”
The repeat episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” will air tonight from 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM (EST).