Hello Pigeon!

After all the hype and walk outs regarding the Dave Chappelle special on Netflix, I finally decided to sit down and watch it.

Dave has a long history of making jokes about the 2SLGBTQ+ community over the years, like so many other comedians. Many apologize, many do not. Dave is just another comedian, making headlines, and of course we help him do that. Maybe my opinion will not make me very popular today, but hear me out Pigeon.

We as a community, are not always caring and thoughtful of others within our own community. Some folks in the community will body shame others, use ageism, racism and even those living with HIV can be a target. It baffles me when we allow it in our own community, but the world must end if it is done by anyone outside the community.

Anyway, back to Dave’s special. Personally, I did not find it funny. Just seemed like an old person telling some of their life story, people they meet, places they have been. To be honest Pigeon, I had trouble staying awake until the end.

However, I will give a little credit where it is due. Despite all the stupid things Dave has said about the 2SLGBTQ+ previously, in this special, he spoke about his trans friend, using their proper pronouns as told they were. He talked about their relationship, and made comparisons about the differences between being a person of colour to those within the 2SLGBTQ+, which were similar experiences to his in some cases. But he just seemed to ramble on.

Dave made one good point in his show, when he talked about not punching up or down anymore. “Just treat people like people.” Maybe, this was a message to our community. “I understand the struggle you have, I understand my past.” Maybe in fact, it was his way of an apology. Who knows Pigeon, because I do not have ESP.

I know that I am part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, however I am not trans nor a person of colour. Maybe I have it wrong, so I asked my dear friend Alice Rose her thoughts on this show. Here is what Alice told me, “The core message of the Special seems to have been the world is people of colour against the 2SLGBTQ+ community. However, this is massive oversimplification. I prefer to look at “The Closer” through an intersectional lens, understanding that there are many people in this world who are black AND queer. One key thing to remember is that people can hide being queer, they cannot hide the colour of their skin, nor should they. Dave, seems to forget that in the USA, Black trans women are at the most risk for violence against them, including sexual assault. If Dave truly stood for Black people like he claims, he would stand with Black trans folks.”

Alice reminded me that Dave also used the term “TERF”, which he seemed to support. By definition TERF means a feminist who excludes the rights of transgender women from their advocacy of women’s rights. 

I could be wrong Pigeon, because like many I am learning too. We learn every day if we truly want to. Words matter. Just because we start a sentence with “I have this trans friend, or I am not transphobic but…..” does not in anyway make our comments less transphobic. They are what they are, and it is time for many folks to own their words, including those within our own community. We need to learn and grow and accept the true value of people.

When our community is transphobic, uses ageism etc., we have no place to call those outside our communities out that do the same. We need to lead by example and  just be kind Pigeon. Being kind costs you nothing, but can mean the world to others.

Let me close this by saying this Pigeon. Why watch it in the first place? If you feel the person is transphobic, homophobic etc., why even watch it? Netflix tracks exactly how many times a show is watched, watched for how long, if you watched till the end and so forth. It you want to send a clear message, you have the one thing that Netflix, Dave, or anyone else for that matter does not have. You have an off button. The “off” button is a simple and effective tool. You no longer feed the beast and you send a clearer message of what will be acceptable or not. You are in control Pigeon, so be in control. Send your clear message instead of feeding the beast.

You are the change Pigeon.


Geri Atrick

About the Author

Geri Atrick is co-host of Not So Str8 Talk, a show that focuses on marginalized & 2SLGBTQ+. Geri also organizes national events around music and the arts, is deeply passionate and active in politics, and is an advocate on many social justice issues. Giver her a little wine and you will never know what she will say. Check out the show at www.str8talk.ca