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Jerrod Carmichael Says Past Jokes About Gay People Were ‘Products of Self-Hate’

The comedian, who recently came out as gay, spoke to Ellen DeGeneres about the process while expressing his admiration for her.

Jerrod Carmichael participates in the "Ramy" panel during the Hulu presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Jerrod Carmichael

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

Jerrod Carmichael is having quite the year. A month after dropping his HBO special “Rothaniel” and making his “SNL” hosting debut, the comedian, who recently came out as gay, is releasing his directorial debut, “On the Count of Three.”

Carmichael stopped by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to promote the film, and the conversation quickly turned to the process of coming out as a public figure, something both comedians have experienced. While opening up about the journey, Carmichael expressed some regret about past jokes he made about the gay community, blaming them on his own refusal to accept himself.

“I’m sure some of the bits and things in my life that I deeply regret were a product of, like, self-hate and denying who I really was,” he said. “So I think the material and a lot of those things– like when I wasn’t talking about myself, I was talking about everybody else outside of myself, just throwing punches and missiles as much as I could. All smoke bombs, all like distractions from who I really was and the thing I was afraid of.”

Carmichael was honest about the difficult process of telling his family about his sexual orientation, noting that some of the closest people in his life have not taken the news as well as he would have liked.

“But it is a long time coming for me to be able to be in that position. It means some distance from a family, but that’s OK,” he said. “I hope that it changes, but that’s what it is right now. It doesn’t mean it’s a sacrifice of happiness, and I think that’s really, really important to say as well.”

While recalling the difficult process of telling his family about his identity, Carmichael expressed his admiration for DeGeneres. He recalled the way her sitcom “Ellen” portrayed gay characters that he and his mother could both enjoy.

“My mom watched you and she laughed at you and you were welcome in the home. It’s no small thing,” he said. “I don’t want to discount that, because it’s really huge. Being Southern and Christian and these things — the idea of having a gay person welcome in my mother’s home — it seemed impossible. And you did it.”

His praise for the comedian did not stop there, as Carmichael continued to emphasize her influence on both his comedy and his personal life.

“It’s one of those things where it’s like I had so much to say to you and you were definitely such an inspiration,” he said. “I almost missed that opportunity to come and say it to you, and it’s, like, really nice to be able to be here again. I’m very thankful for that.”

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