01/18/2007 at 09:25 PM EST
Under fire by his bosses at ABC and gay leaders, Grey's Anatomy
star Isaiah Washington apologized Thursday for what he called his "unacceptable in any context" comments about gay costar T.R. Knight on Golden Globes night.
"I can neither defend nor explain my behavior," Washington said in a statement. "I can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I've asked for help."
Apologizing to "T.R., my colleagues, the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community," Washington said he "marred what should have been a perfect night" for Grey's Anatomy
and hurt both Knight and "everyone who has struggled for the respect so many of us take for granted.
"T.R.'s courage throughout this entire episode speaks to his tremendous character," Washington said. "I hold his talent, and T.R. as a person, in high esteem. I know a mere apology will not end this, and I intend to let my future actions prove my sincerity."
Washington, who plays Dr. Preston Burke on the hit ABC show, denied in the pressroom at the Golden Globes on Monday that he ever used a gay slur in reference to Knight. "No, I did not call T.R. a faggot," said Washington. "Never happened, never happened."
But during an appearance
Wednesday on The Ellen DeGeneres Show,
Knight said that Washington did use the word during an on-set argument with costar Patrick Dempsey in October.
"He referred to me as a faggot," he told DeGeneres. "Everyone heard it."
Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said in a statement Thursday night that Washington "has scheduled a meeting with us for early next week, and we look forward to exploring opportunities for moving forward together and healing some of the wounds of the past four months."
Earlier GLAAD had demanded that Washington apologize for his actions
. Meanwhile some fans have circulated a petition online to have the actor fired.
ABC has responded by saying that Washington's remarks on Globes night were "unacceptable and are being addressed."
"We have a long standing policy to create and maintain respectful workplaces for all our employees," the network said in a statement, as first reported on TVGuide.com
. "We dealt with the original situation in October, and thought the issue resolved. Therefore, we are greatly dismayed that Mr. Washington chose to use such inappropriate language at the Golden Globes, language that he himself deemed 'unfortunate' in his previous public apology. We take this situation very seriously. His actions are unacceptable and are being addressed."