Comedian Dave Chappelle’s latest special includes a declaration of transphobia, a boast about beating up a butch lesbian, and an allegation that rapper DaBaby’s homophobia sparked more outrage than the killings of Black Americans — and an assertion that Chappelle’s through with jokes about LGBTQ+ people.
In the Netflix special The Closer, which dropped Tuesday, Chappelle defends J.K. Rowling’s anti-transgender remarks, then proclaims, “I’m Team TERF!” — an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminists.
“Gender is a fact,” he says. “Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact.” He goes on to say that trans women are women, but their genitals aren’t like those of cisgender women.
“Chappelle’s anti-trans jokes have often boiled down to human anatomy, which shows how unnuanced his views are on the subject,” Daily Beast critic Marlow Stern wrote.
He also claimed he once beat up a butch lesbian who punched him and that she tried to sell the story to TMZ. “I’m glad TMZ didn’t believe that — because I did beat the shit out of her,” he says. “I’m not gonna lie. It was her fault. I had no choice.” In addition, he says he nearly got into a physical fight with a white gay man who confronted him in a bar.
In discussing DaBaby, who disparaged gay people and those living with HIV in remarks at a concert this summer, Chappelle says the rapper “punched the LGBTQ community right in the AIDS,” then says more people know of that incident than a fight DaBaby was involved in at a Walmart in 2018, where one person was killed. “In our country, you can shoot and kill a [n word],” Chappelle says. “But you better not hurt a gay person’s feelings.”
LGBTQ+ people have made more progress toward equality than Black Americans, he contends. “If slaves had oil and booty shorts on, we might have been free 100 years sooner,” he says. He also claims, “Gay people are minorities until they need to be white again.”
Chappelle “ignores the fact that there are plenty of nonwhite gay people who face oppression for both their sexual orientation and their race,” NPR’s Eric Deggans writes. “And, of course, opposing these public statements of homophobia isn’t just about making gay people feel better; it’s about keeping the anger and prejudice behind those words from becoming widely acceptable or turning into action.”
Toward the end of the show, Chappelle says he’s now through making jokes about LGBTQ+ people; he’s been accused of “punching down” on them. “I’m done talking about it,” he says. “All I ask of your community, with all humility: Will you please stop punching down on my people?”
“That line, with all of its terrible assumptions about who ‘your community’ is and who ‘my people’ are, just made me terribly angry and disappointed,” Deggans writes. “Because untangling homophobia, transphobia, racism and white privilege requires a lot more effort and understanding than Chappelle makes here.”