Comedian Dave Chappelle is standing behind his latest Netflix stand-up special, The Closer. However, he’s also willing to have a dialogue with members of the LGBTQ+ community who accused him of transphobia, People reports.
The comedian has been caught in a web of controversy since the release of his stand-up special on Oct. 5th, which offended some members of the transgender community.
Last week, some employees of the streaming service walked out in protest, accusing Chappelle of being transphobic. In the special, Chappelle defended Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who’s also been accused of transphobia. He agreed with her statement that gender is a fact.
Chappelle addressed the controversy again while promoting his documentary Untitled.
“It was said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true,” he said in the video.
“If they invited me, I would have accepted it; although I’m confused about what we’re speaking about,” he argued. “I said what I said. And, boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”
Chappelle also said that he doesn’t “blame” the LGBTQ community for the controversy, saying that “it’s about corporate interest.”
“For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting,” he claimed. “So I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”
Chappelle said that he would is willing to have a dialogue with the transgender community but wants to set the terms of the meeting.
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands,” he said. “And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing. And thirdly, you must admit that [Australian comedian and fellow Netflix star] Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
GLADD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, forcefully denounced Chappelle’s special on Twitter earlier this month.
Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree. https://t.co/yOIyT54819
— GLAAD (@glaad) October 6, 2021
“Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities,” the tweet read. “Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree.”
Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, initially backed Chappelle, stating the company will “work hard to support their creative freedom—even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.”
Since the controversy has gained momentum, he recanted his previous position saying that he “screwed up” his response to the issue.
“First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity,” he said.
“Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made,” he added. “And I think that needs to be acknowledged upfront before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn’t do that.”