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Actor and comic Patton Oswalt has issued a passionate apology following a flood of criticism over an Instagram post. In it, Oswalt revealed that he spent New Year’s Eve with longtime friend Dave Cappelle.
“Finished me set at @mccawhall and got a text from @davechappelle,” Oswalt posted on January 31. “Come over to the arena he’s performing in next door and do a guest set. Why not? I waved good-bye to this hell-year with a genius I started comedy with 34 years ago. He works an arena like he’s talking to one person and charming their skin off. Anyway, I ended the year with a real friend and a deep laugh. Can’t ask for much more.”
The post ignited immediate backlash from Oswalt’s transgender fans who expressed disappointment at his choice of company.
As a trans person and a fan of your work, this is extremely disappointing.
You've been open about your journey towards more empathetic comedy, so I ask you: please think about how this makes your trans fans feel.
— Cassie Stole Your Apes (@CassieCeleste) January 1, 2022
“As a trans person and a fan of your work, this is extremely disappointing,” wrote Twitter user @CassieCeleste. “You’ve been open about your journey towards more empathetic comedy, so I ask you: please think about how this makes your trans fans feel.”
I understand valuing your long friendship,but I’m surprised you wouldn’t know your posts here & on IG hurt people that deserve better. Read through those saddened vs. those defending… that would be enough to make me uncomfortable.
— Tauna (@tauna79) January 1, 2022
“I understand valuing your long friendship, but I’m surprised you wouldn’t know your posts here & on IG hurt people that deserve better,” said @tauna79. “Read through those saddened vs. those defending… that would be enough to make me uncomfortable.”
did you watch his special? his "my transphobia is okay because I have a trans friend" story was all about exploiting said trans friend.
— Doors In The Labyrinth (@joshloughrey) January 1, 2022
“Did you watch his special?” asked @joshloughrey. “His ‘my transphobia is okay because I have a trans friend’ story was all about exploiting said trans friend.”
“I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time this New Year’s Eve,” Oswalt wrote. “We’ve known each other since we’re teens. He’s a fellow comedian, the funniest I’ve ever met. I wanted to post a pic & an IG story about it — so I did. The friend is Dave Chappelle. Thirty-four YEARS we’ve been friends. 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,” he further declared. “I support trans peoples’ rights — ANYONE’S rights — to live safely in the world as their fullest selves. 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. Also, I’ve been carrying a LOT of guilt about friends I’ve cut off, who had views with which I couldn’t agree, or changed in ways I couldn’t live 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?”
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“I’m an LGBTQ ally,” Oswalt asserted. “I’m a loyal friend. There’s friction in those traits that I need to reconcile myself, and not let cause feels of betrayal in ANYONE else. And I’m sorry, truly sorry, that I didn’t consider the hurt this would cause. Or the DEPTH of that hurt. I’ve been messaging a lot on IG today, and the back and forth has really helped guide me in the writing of this. I (naively) deleted a lot of posts in the comment thread — critical ones from LGBTQ writers AND shit-posts by TERF/anti-trans orcs looking for clicks & giggles. I wanted a ‘nice comment thread’ about the pic with my friend. Ugh. So easy to think someone ELSE needs growth and miss the need in yourself. Gonna keep trying.”
The fan frustration with Oswalt follows a year of controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle and his Netflix comedy special The Closer in which he made homophobic comments and scatological jokes about transgender people and their bodies. Employees at the streaming giant staged a walkout over the special, while Chappelle has refused to apologize.