Dave Chappelle swears off jokes about LGBTQ people amid competing complaints of "punching down"

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Photo courtesy of Netflix
Photo courtesy of Netflix

A lot has been said about comedian Dave Chappelle over the years. There have been many false allegations brought against him by members of the LGBTQ community, including but not limited to him being homophobic and "punching down" (a term he hates) on them.

Despite his being vocal about his acceptance of the LGBTQ community's right to a safe and happy life and the preservation of their humanity, regurgitated reports of his work "punching down" on the LGBTQ community flood the internet every time he releases new material.

In light of his most recent comedy special on Netflix, The Closer, there have been new attacks on his character and attempts to "cancel" him and his career. However, each has been just as generic and misleading as the ones that started it all about 16 years ago, back before he was as conscious of the LGBTQ movement as he is now. They reek of the ignorance and self-centered point of view only someone who has never watched any of his recent work could spew, or someone watching with the intent to misunderstand him.

Now, let's be clear. By the applause Chappelle received when he said he wants to address the LGBTQ community correctly during The Closer, we know that it is not everyone who has the determination to find an issue with him where there isn't one. That being said, things have reached a boiling point. If you can turn to your Gay friend, mention Chappelle's name, and have them admit "I never watch him because he doesn't support the LGBTQ community," then it becomes clear that too many people are no longer making informed decisions.

These uninformed people are unknowingly perpetuating discrepancies that he points out in his specials and zeroes in on during The Closer. For instance, he mentions rapper DaBaby, who recently made some outrageous statements about AIDS and LGBTQ people — who then effectively rose against him to "cancel" his career.

In November of 2018, DaBaby shot and killed a man in the parking lot of a North Carolina Walmart, and as Chappelle mentions, "nothing bad happened to his career." He goes on to explain how bothered he is by this discrepancy: that you can kill a Black man in this country and continue to prosper, but you better not hurt a Gay person's feelings.

Jaclyn Moore, a Trans co-showrunner of Dear White People, attacked Chappelle and Netflix on social media for The Closer's "blatantly and dangerously transphobic content." She also has said, "I don't know in what world trans women control the universe, because from where I'm sitting, Dave Chappelle has all the specials, all the money, all the things. I just want my friends to not get killed."

And while Moore and many others may turn their noses up at Chappelle's request for white members of the LGBTQ community to stop "punching down" on his people, the fact of the matter is that the heart of all his specials is making the same requests she is making but for his friends and his family, his people — Black people.

Now, while people who agree with Moore might want to believe Chappelle hates Gay and Transgender people, he makes it perfectly clear that is not the case.

"What it really is is I am jealous of gay people," he says on stage.

In a previous special he has stated that the LGBTQ movement shouldn't be talked about in front of Black people, because of the tremendous progress it has made in a remarkably shorter period of time. "Look how well that movement is going!" he exclaims, and as uncomfortable as it might be to talk about, he isn't wrong.

In his Age of Spin special, he mentioned knowing Black men in Brooklyn who wear high heels just to feel safe. This refers to how crimes against members of the LGBTQ community are almost immediately labeled, tried, and sentenced as hate crimes. Yet the Black community fights tooth and nail for the "hate crime" label that would bring the victim justice; worse still, the assailants are rarely ever prosecuted.

He also asked why was it easier for Caitlyn Jenner to change her sex than it was for Cassius Clay to change his name, calling it a clear highlight of this country's racism.

Is Chappelle saying that the LGBTQ community doesn't deserve what they've gained? No. Not at all. But what he is asking is: where is the mutual empathy?

Jokes have been being made at the expense of the Black community for hundreds of years, and they continue today. Do jokes shoot and kill Black people on a regular basis? No. Racist cops and members of society do. Likewise, jokes don't cause violence against the members of the LGBTQ community. Homophobes do. A homophobe who hurts you was going to do so regardless if they had heard such a joke or not.

Chappelle came into The Closer guns blazing, brutally honest, and throwing caution to the wind with a goal in mind. He asked questions like "Can a gay person be racist?" and stated that "Gay people are minorities until they need to be white again," backing these up with real-life accounts. For example, a white Gay man attempted to set him up to lose his temper on camera while at dinner with his family, then called the cops when confronted about it — an act that could be viewed as wishing death on him. Anyone who is truly listening can see that Chappelle's problem has never been specifically with Gay or Transgender people but has always been with white people.

Toward the end of The Closer, he tells an equally heartwarming and heartbreaking story of Daphne Dorman, a Trans woman Chappelle refers to as one of the coolest people he has ever met. He tells us how he developed a friendship with this aspiring comedian and even gave her the opportunity to open for him after noticing her at many of his shows. After the release of one his specials, Twitter tried to drag him for being homophobic, for which Daphne came to his defense.

Her own community then proceeded to drag her on Twitter for days, and shortly after, she killed herself. Not only did Chappelle reach out to her family but he also set up a trust fund for her daughter. Her family has even shared their support for him and calls him an ally.

In an attempt at mutual empathy, and with hopes of reining in the cancel culture running rampant, Chappelle reminds his audience that taking someone's livelihood is akin to killing them. Not only does he mention this being his last special for a while but he also says, "LGBTQ, this is it. I'm done. I'm not telling another joke about you until we are both sure we are laughing together. All that I ask is that you please, stop punching down on my people."