Patton Oswalt ended 2021 with a surprise performance alongside his longtime friend Dave Chappelle, and he began 2022 by justifying that decision. In an Instagram post on Sunday, January 2nd, Oswalt defended his friendship with Chappelle, apologized for not considering “the hurt this would cause,” and said he and his old pal, “100% disagree about transgender rights & representation.”
Oswalt closed out the year with a performance at McCaw Hall in Seattle, while Chappelle did the same at the nearby Climate Pledge Arena. As Oswalt wrote in a January 1st post, he “Finished me set at @mccawhall and got a text from @davechappelle. 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 comments of that post quickly became a battleground. Some criticized Oswalt for his apparent endorsement of Chappelle following his transphobic comments, including identifying as “Team TERF,” using the term for a trans-exclusionary radical feminist. Others defended Chappelle and/or bashed the transgendered community.
At first, Oswalt said, “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.” But he soon felt called to explain himself.
In his January 2nd post, Oswalt noted that, “We’ve known each other since we’re teens… 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.”
He continued, “We also 100% disagree about transgender rights & representation. 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.”