Dave Chappelle Says He's 'More Than Willing' to Meet With Trans Community Amid 'Closer' Controversy

Chappelle took to Instagram to address the controversy surrounding his latest Netflix special and how it's impacted his other work.

Dave Chappelle is opening up about the recent controversy surrounding his Netflix special, The Closer. The 48-year-old comedian took to Instagram to share his reaction to the recent protests and Netflix employee walkouts that have occurred since the comments he made in his special. The controversy began when The Closer hit Netflix earlier this month. In the special, Chappelle says that "gender is a fact," adding, "Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth." Chappelle also identified himself as "Team TERF," which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, an ideology that excludes trans women as women.

In the video posted on Monday, Chappelle addressed a packed auditorium at what appeared to be one of his comedy shows.

"It's been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix, and I refused. That is not true," Chappelle revealed. "If they'd have invited me, I would've accepted it, although, I am confused about what we are speaking about. I said what I said and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not?"

In a statement shared with ET on Friday, his rep said the comedian is open to speaking to those who work at the streaming giant that are upset by his jokes.

"Dave stands by his art. Both sides of the street are talking, and Dave is listening. At some point, when everyone is open, I’m sure our communities will come together," Chappelle's rep said. "As Dave said in his special, 'No more jokes about transgenders until we can all laugh together.'"

"I can confirm that neither Dave or I received any direct contact from Ashlee Marie Preston about the walk-out protest," the rep added of the organizer of last Wednesday's protest.

At the protest, however, Preston told reporters that she had reached out to the comedian, calling his unwillingness to meet "avoidance of accountability."

When addressing the concerns posed by the transgender community who work at the streaming giant, Chappelle said it seemed like he was the only one not allowed to enter Netflix's headquarters. The comedian then went on to insist that real issue isn't between him and the LGBTQ+ community, but rather an issue over corporate interests and his freedom of speech as a comedian.

"You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like, I'm the only one who can't go to the office anymore," he shared. "I want everyone in this audience to know, even though the media frames this that it's me versus that community, that is not what it is. Do not blame the LGBTQ community for any of this s**t. This has nothing to do with them. This is about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say."

Chappelle then tried to set the record straight, telling the audience that the members of the LGBTQ+ community that he has been in contact with have been nothing but "loving" and "supporting" since the special.

"For the record, and I need you to know this. Everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting, so I don't know what all this nonsense is about," he said.

Chappelle also lamented how the reaction to The Closer has affected his untitled documentary, filmed last year during his series of comedy shows held out in a cornfield next to his Ohio home. He claimed that several film festivals and studios have disinvited him and pulled out their support for the project, which in part, discusses the tragic murder of George Floyd, since the controversy surrounding his latest special.

"This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States and some of those invitations I accepted, but this controversy came out about The Closer, they began disinviting me from these festivals, and now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film," he said before thanking Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos for not giving up on him. "Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet."

He then extended an invite to the transgender community to hash out their issues, but that invitation came with a few conditions from the comedian.

"To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me," Chappelle said in the lengthy video. "I am not bending to anyone’s demands. And if you want to meet with me, I am more than willing to, but I have some conditions."

He continued amid the audience's chuckles, "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."

The last remark was a jab at the Nannette star, who slammed Chappelle and Sarandos in an Instagram post earlier this month over the reaction he and Netflix initially had to the hurt and backlash expressed by trans staffers and others.

Chappelle ended his monologue by sharing that he's making his documentary available to watch in 10 American cities, telling the audience, "I will make it available for all of you in 10 American cities, going on sale in the next few days. You will be able to see this movie in its entirety and you can see what they're trying to obstruct you from seeing and you can judge for yourself, but you cannot have this conversation and excuse my voice from it, that is only fair," he said.

"You have to answer the question, 'Am I canceled or not?'" he added before getting a resounding, 'No,' from the audience and throwing his mic on stage.

For more on the controversy surrounding Chappelle and his special, see below.



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