Members of Netflix’s employee resource group Trans* staged a walkout in protest of Dave Chappelle’s special The Closer on Wednesday.
Transgender employees and allies left Netflix’s Hollywood office in response to the streaming service’s handling of the Dave Chappelle controversy. Staff working remotely engaged in a “virtual walkout” as well.
Hundreds gathered at a solidarity rally, which was organized by transgender activist Ashlee Marie Preston. Former Netflix employee B. Pagels-Minor, who was recently fired over a data leak, spoke at the event.
“As most of you know, I’m 33 weeks pregnant,” Pagels-Minor said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “And when I thought about why I was participating in, it’s that my son does not grow up with content that hates me. I want my child to grow up in a world where they see that their parent, a Black trans person — because I exist, contrary to what the special says, contrary to what many people say — that I am valued and I am an important person as well.”
Celebrities such as Jameela Jamil and Colton Haynes showed their support for the Netflix walkout in a video. Actor Elliot Page and comedian Billy Eichner were among the notable names backing the protest on social media.
Dave Chappelle proponents and anti-transgender protesters also appeared at the rally. Gigi Laroux, who claimed to be a supporter of comedy, was among those in attendance.
“We are protesting this walkout,” she told Variety. They have the right to do it, but we have the right to stand up for Dave Chappelle and his freedom of expression. This boils down to equality, and if people want equality they to be put on the same level as anybody else. Comedians are equal opportunity destroyers.”
The anti-trans contingent included a woman who refused to be identified when interviewed by Reuters.
“The transgender cult kidnapped two of my children and transformed their bodies in ways they can’t change, and I’m damn angry about it,” she said. “I have children, and children are being put on a one-way path to permanent body destruction through the transgender ideology.”
Dave Chappelle’s The Closer has faced backlash for being transphobic. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos initially defended the special but has since claimed he “screwed up” in his response to employee concerns.