Patton Oswalt's Message on Dave Chappelle Backfires

Comedian insists he's an 'LGBTQ ally' after post about his longtime friendship with Chappelle
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2022 10:25 AM CST
Patton Oswalt's Message on Dave Chappelle Backfires
Patton Oswalt is seen at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Nov. 8, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – The comedy business can be a somewhat insular one, where everybody knows everybody and ties stretch back decades. So it's not surprising that comedian Patton Oswalt has known Dave Chappelle for more than three decades, and his New Year's Eve post on that topic is now drawing heat. Chappelle has taken flak over controversial comments made about the transgender community in his Netflix special The Closer, and if anything, he's only doubled down on those comments since—which is why when Oswalt put up an otherwise innocuous post about his friendship with Chappelle, things quickly went south, per The Hollywood Reporter.

In his late Friday night post, Oswalt explained that after he'd done a set at the Seattle Center that evening, Chappelle texted him and invited him to come next door where he was performing and do a guest set. Oswalt obliged, writing, alongside a photo of the two of them with their arms around each other: "I waved good-bye to this hell-year with a genius I started comedy with 34 years ago. ... I ended the year with a real friend and a deep laugh. Can't ask for much more." He put up a similar post on Twitter, and the critical comments soon started flowing in. "As a trans person and a fan of your work, this is extremely disappointing," one person wrote. "This is such a bummer," posted another commenter.

A follow-up post appeared on Oswalt's Instagram feed on Sunday, showing a more pensive-looking Oswalt sitting at a desk, staring at a notepad as if collecting his thoughts. He noted that "I'm an LGBTQ ally," and that he and Chappelle "100% disagree about transgender rights & representation. I support trans peoples' rights—ANYONE'S rights—to live safely in the world as their fullest selves." As for Chappelle, "for all the things he's helped ME evolve on, I'll always disagree with where he stands NOW on transgender issues." Still, Oswalt continues, "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."

He also expressed "a LOT of guilt" at cutting off other friends in the past over different views: "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?" Oswalt apologized for deleting his critics' remarks in the comments section of his original post, noting, "So easy to think someone ELSE needs growth and miss the need in yourself. Gonna keep trying." (Read more Patton Oswalt stories.)

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