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Wil Wheaton pens powerful letter explaining why Dave Chappelle's anti-trans jokes are harmful

The Star Trek actor revealed he has been homophobic in his past, and said he's embarrassed about it now.

Wil Wheaton pens powerful letter explaining why Dave Chappelle's anti-trans jokes are harmful
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 25: Actor Wil Wheaton during Comic-Con International 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 25, 2014, in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Trigger warning: This story contains themes of transphobia and homophobia that some readers may find distressing

'Star Trek' Actor Wil Wheaton has called out Chappelle’s transphobic jokes in a post on Facebook and it details why it's extremely dangerous. Dave Chappelle targeted the transgender community and declared himself a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) in his comedy special, 'The Closer.' Netflix defended Chappelle and the special after facing heavy criticism. Wil Wheaton decided to dig deep into his own past to explain why Chappelle's words can have a catastrophic effect on the transgender community. Wheaton broke down his take on the matter, explaining how he accepted homophobia as a way of life when he was just 16 because comedy and culture had normalized it. He found out how damaging it could be after using the slur f***ot while standing in the company of gay men, reported Comic Sands.


"When I was sixteen, I played ice hockey almost every night at a local rink. I was a goalie, and they always needed goalies. It was a lot of fun. One night, I'd played a couple of hours of pickup with some really great dudes. They were friendly, they were funny, they enjoyed the game, they treated me like I was part of their team. They welcomed me.
After we were finished, we were all in the locker room getting changed into our regular clothes," wrote Wheaton.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 25: Wil Wheaton attends The Paley Center for Media's 35th Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles - "Stranger Things" at Dolby Theatre on March 25, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

He then set the context of his upbringing, explaining how he loved comedy specials and Eddie Murphy's 'Delirious' in particular, from 1983. Wheaton explained he loved the special to bits but later recognized it was also problematic. "There is also extensive homophobic material that is just f*cking appalling and inexcusable. Long stretches of this comedy film are devoted to mocking gay people, using the slur that starts with F over and over and over."

Wil Wheaton says how it shaped his view of the world and especially that of gay people. "Young Wil, who watched this with his suburban white upper-middle-class friends, in his privileged bubble, thought it was the funniest, edgiest, dirtiest thing he'd ever heard. It KILLED him. And all of it was dehumanizing to gay men. All of it was cruel. All of it was bigoted. All of it was punching down. And I didn't know any better. I accepted the framing, I developed a view of gay men as predatory, somehow less than straight men, absolutely worthy of mockery and contempt. Always good for a joke, though." Being a privileged white kid, 'nobody around me to challenge that perception.'

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25: Actor Wil Wheaton speaks during SiriusXM's 'Town Hall' at Nerdmelt Showroom on April 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

He went on to reveal that he was 'embarrassingly homophobic,' before explaining the incident that happened in the locker room. "So I'm talking with these guys, and we're all just laughing and having a good time. And then, without even realizing what I was doing, that awful word came out of my mouth. 'Blah blah blah F****t,' I said." He knew in that instant he had messed up. For the first time in his life, someone had challenged his perception of gay people. "The room fell silent and that's when I realized every single guy in this room was gay. They were from a team called The Blades (amazing) and I had just ... really f*cked up. "Do you have any gay friends?" One of them asked me, gently.  "Yes," I said, defensively. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to apologize, I wanted to beg forgiveness. But I was a stupid sixteen-year-old with pride and ignorance and fear all over myself, so I lied to try and get out of it. 'They must not love themselves very much,' he said, with quiet disappointment."

"Nobody said another word to me. I felt terrible. That happened over 30 years ago. I'm mortified and embarrassed and so regretful that I said such a hurtful thing. I said it out of ignorance, but I still said it, and I said it because I believed these men, who were so cool and kind and just like all the other men I played with (I was always the youngest player on the ice) were somehow less than ... I guess everyone. Because that had been normalized for me by culture and comedy."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Will Wheaton arrives at Paramount+'s 2nd Annual "Star Trek Day' celebration at Skirball Cultural Center on September 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

He explained that it was the homophobic 'jokes' that normalized his behavior. He apologized to those who had been present in the locker room that day. He then explained why Chapelle's words are damaging. "So this stuff that Chapelle did? That all these Cishet white men are so keen to defend? I believe them when they say that it's not a big deal. Because it's not a big deal TO CISHET WHITE DUDES. But for a transgender person, those "jokes" normalize hateful, ignorant, bigoted behavior towards them. Those "jokes" contribute to a world where transgender people are constantly under threat of violence, because transgender people have been safely, acceptably, dehumanized," he wrote.

"Literally, every queer person I know (and I know a LOT) is hurt by Chapelle's actions. When literally every queer person I know says "this is hurtful to me", I'm going to listen to them and support them, and not tell them why they are wrong, as so many cishet white men do. If you're inclined to disregard queer voices, especially as they relate to this specific topic, I encourage you to reflect on your choices and think about who you listen to and why," he wrote.

You can read his full post here:


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