Is The Closer comedian open to honest dialogue about the harm his words have done to the LGBTQ+ community? Following the backlash to the transphobic rhetoric that passed as “jokes” in his most recent Netflix special (and several prior)—which included a walkout by the streamer’s employees on Wednesday, the firing of that walkout’s Black, trans and pregnant organizer (following the suspension of at least one other trans employee), and several statement fumbles by co-CEO Ted Sarandos—Chappelle’s rep says his controversial client is indeed willing to talk.
A representative for the five-time Emmy Award winner, 48, tells PEOPLE he is open to a dialogue with the streaming platform’s employees.
“Dave stands by his Art. Both sides of the street are talking and Dave is listening. At some point, when everyone is open, I’m sure our communities will come together,” says a rep for Chappelle.
But when? As People notes, this new statement contradicts prior claims made by transgender activist and 2017 The Root 100 honoree Ashlee Marie Preston, who organized Wednesday’s employee walkout and suggested Chappelle has all but ignored invitations to engage directly. On October 13, she tweeted:
Dave Chappelle was not “canceled.” He’s been invited to the table for transformative dialogue but won’t show up. That’s not “cancel culture,” but an avoidance of accountability. He’s no victim. The man is worth $50M. Unlike many trans people his comedy stigmatizes— he’ll live.
Chappelle’s rep refutes Preston’s account, denying that anyone reached out to dialogue with the comedian prior to the walkout. However, while neither Preston nor Netflix has issued any further public comment on the matter or responded to People’s request for comment, Chappelle seemingly remained cavalier as he performed a sold-out set in London, teasing a 10-city tour should The Closer be removed from the streamer. As The Root reported Thursday, this was ironically not among the demands put forth to Netflix by Preston, the protesting employees and allies.
Whether or not Chappelle comes to the table with his rightfully concerned critics remains to be seen; but as the fight for more accountability continues, undoubtedly, so too will this crucial conversation.