Dave Chappelle Says He's Willing to Meet with Trans Netflix Employees Only on 'His Own Terms'

Comedian's Instagram video response fuels new controversy

Jason A. Michael

Controversy continues to follow comedian Dave Chappelle after his latest special "The Closer," which premiered on Netflix earlier this month, was criticized for harsh, anti-trans content. The backlash was swift, with trans Netflix employees staging a walkout and members of the LGBTQ+ community calling upon Netflix to pull the special from its streaming service. 

Chappelle addressed the controversy in a video posted to his official Instagram account yesterday. In the five-minute clip, which appeared to be taken from a recent show, Chappelle attempted to clear a few things up.

"It's been said in the press that I was invited to speak with transgender employees at Netflix, and I refused," Chappelle started. "That is not true. If they had invited me, I would've accepted, although I am confused about what we're speaking about." 

Chappelle added that he's aware of the controversy and commentary behind his remarks.

"My God, how could I not," he continued. "You said you wanted a safe work environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I'm the only one who can't go to the office anymore. I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames it that it's me against that community, that's not what it is. Do not blame the LGBTQ community for any of this shit. It's not about them. It's about corporate interests and what I can and cannot say."

But the LGBTQ+ community may not agree with that, considering this is not Chappelle's first offense. He made jokes about Caitlyn Jenner in his "Equanimity" special and also made anti-trans jokes in his "Sticks and Stones" show. David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, called Chappelle out.

"With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better," Johns said in a statement. "Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull "The Closer" from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community."

GLAAD also tweeted about Chappelle's comments – past and present.

"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."

While Netflix executives have so far refused to bow to the pressure and pull "The Closer," there is obvious internal conflict within Netflix's hierarchy. An employee was recently fired for allegedly leaking confidential information about the special to the press. Details later showed up in a Bloomberg article.

For his part, Chappelle said in the Instagram video that he's willing to meet with transgender employees from Netflix.

"But you are not summoning me, and I am not bending to anyone's demands. And if you want to meet with me, I'd be more than willing to, but I have some conditions," he said in the video. "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 Hannah Gadsby is not funny." 

Gadsby, an out Australia-based comedian, had previously taken Chappelle to task for his comments. In an Instagram post, she responded to being called out by Chappelle.

"Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chapelle's fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view," Gadsby posted.



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