Patton Oswalt took to Instagram to explain and defend his friendship with comedian Dave Chappelle after a prior post of Oswalt and Chappelle together sparked backlash.
Oswalt apologized that he “didn’t consider the hurt this would cause” or the “DEPTH of that hurt” in reference to his initial Instagram post, in which he posed with Chappelle after being invited last-minute to do a guest set at Chappelle’s arena performance on New Year’s Eve. “I ended the year with a real friend and a deep laugh,” the original Instagram post read in part.
“Thirty four YEARS we’ve been friends,” Oswalt noted in the follow-up post. “He’s refocused and refined ideas a lot of us took as settled about race & history & Life on Planet Earth and spun them around with a phrase or punchline. We’ve done bad & good gigs, open mikes & TV tapings. But we also 100% disagree about transgender rights & representation.”
Chappelle came under fire in October of last year when his Netflix special “The Closer” was released, in which the comedian targeted trans and other LGBTQ+ people. “Gender is a fact,” he says at one point in the hour-plus set. “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 then joked about the genitalia of trans women, which he described as “not what it is.”
The release of the special sparked backlash and a walkout at Netflix’s office, where employees against the special made their voices heard.
Oswalt made clear in his Instagram post that his support of the LGBTQ+ community is unequivocal. “I support trans peoples’ rights – ANYONE’S rights – to live safely in the world as their fullest selves,” the statement continued before Oswalt then explained why he finds value in remaining friends with Chappelle. “For all the things he’s helped ME evolve on, I’ll always disagree with where he stands NOW on transgender issues. But I also don’t believe a seeker like him is done evolving, learning. You know someone that long, see the struggles and changes, it’s impossible to cut them off. Impossible not to be hopeful and open and cheer them on.”
The comedian and “A.P. Bio” actor then admitted he’s felt guilt over cutting off friends in the past whose views he didn’t agree with. “Sometimes I wonder – did I and others cutting them off make them dig their heels in deeper, fuel their ignorance with a nitro-boost of resentment and spite?”
“I’m an LGBTQ ally,” Oswalt’s statement continued. “I’m a loyal friend. There’s friction in those traits that I need to reconcile myself and not let cause feels (sic) of betrayal in ANYONE else.”
“So easy to think someone ELSE needs growth and miss the need in yourself,” the statement concludes. “Gonna keep trying.”
Read Oswalt’s full statement below, followed by the original Instagram post that sparked the backlash.