Patton Oswalt, who has known comedian Dave Chappelle since they were "teens," responded to online backlash after posting a photo with Chappelle following a New Year's Eve performance together.
Oswalt was invited to perform as a surprise guest when Chappelle discovered he was performing nearby.
After the show, the two friends posed for a photo together.
"I ended the year with a real friend and a deep laugh. Can’t ask for much more," wrote Oswalt from the post he made on December 31, 2021.
Last year, Chappelle was castigated by the industry and former fans after he made transphobic remarks on his Netflix special, The Closer.
The irreverent comedian made anti-trans comments like "gender is a fact" on the Netflix program, and he identified himself as "Team TERF," or "trans-exclusionary radical feminist."
In a staff memo, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos defended Chappelle by saying his performance was freedom of artistic expression.
Sarandos also referred to Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby amidst the controversy as an example of the company's commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, to which Gadsby lambasted the CEO for dragging her name into his "mess."
The streaming platform's solidarity with the controversial stand-up led to a walkout of transgender staff writers and employees at Netflix.
When Oswalt faced backlash after posting the photo with Chappelle, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D actor took to Instagram and expressed his solidarity with the trans community despite his friendship with the embattled comedian.
"I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time this New Year’s Eve," he said of Chappelle.
"We’ve known each other since we’re teens. He’s a fellow comedian, the funniest I’ve ever met. I wanted to post a pic & an IG story about it — so I did. The friend is Dave Chappelle. 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."
But Oswalt maintained the two have diametrically opposed views towards the LGBTQ+ community.
"But we also 100% disagree about transgender rights & representation," he said, adding, "I support trans peoples’ rights — ANYONE’S rights — to live safely in the world as their fullest selves."
Oswalt continued explaining, however, why he would not turn his back on an old friend.
"For all the things he’s helped ME evolve on, I’ll always disagree with where he stands NOW on transgender issues. But I also don’t believe a seeker like him is done evolving, learning."
"You know someone that long, see the struggles and changes, it’s impossible to cut them off. Impossible not to be hopeful and open and cheer them on."
He also reflected back on the negative impact of dismissing friends with opposing views.
"Also, I’ve been carrying a LOT of guilt about friends I’ve cut off, who had views with which I couldn’t agree, or changed in ways I couldn’t live with."
"Sometimes I wonder — did I and others cutting them off make them dig their heels in deeper, fuel their ignorance with a nitro-boost of resentment and spite?"
He added he was "an LGBTQ ally" and a "loyal friend," adding, "There’s friction in those traits that I need to reconcile myself, and not let cause feels of betrayal in ANYONE else."
"And I’m sorry, truly sorry, that I didn’t consider the hurt this would cause. Or the DEPTH of that hurt."
"I’ve been messaging a lot on IG today, and the back and forth has really helped guide me in the writing of this. I (naively) deleted a lot of posts in the comment thread — critical ones from LGBTQ writers AND sh*t-posts by TERF/anti-trans orcs looking for clicks & giggles."
Many followers supported Oswalt for his transparency and for inspiring a conversation.
He concluded his post by saying he was hoping for a "nice comment thread" after posting the photo but realized there was still much to learn.
"So easy to think someone ELSE needs growth and miss the need in yourself. Gonna keep trying."