KY LGBTQ community members speak out against Dave Chappelle’s Netflix Special

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Monday marked ‘National Coming Out Day,’ which is a day that’s been celebrated since 1988.

However, this year, part of the discussion surrounds a famous comedian’s Netflix special, which partially took aim at the LGBTQ community.

Some members of the community in Central Kentucky said “jokes” can be dangerous and are no laughing matter.

“Gay was a punchline and it was an insult,” Kevin Lankford, Winchester-native, said.

Lankford said that was his experience growing up in Winchester in the 90’s.

“I remember being in school and people saying, ‘why are you acting so gay,’ and that really puts a fear in you,” Lankford said.

Though he saID things are better, and more people are aware of what they say, things like Dave Chappelle’s latest stand-up comedy special, “The Closer,” can do a lot of damage.

Among many things said in his stand-up act, Chappelle said gender is a fact and defends Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling who was criticized for saying the same thing.

“To him, it was a joke,” Lankford said. “He said it. He got laughs. Everybody’s moved on, but somewhere there’s a gay kid who’s heard that joke and maybe they want to come out; maybe they’re thinking it’s okay to come out, but then they hear that, and they see the reaction, and they see people rushing to defend him and it puts them back. They’re like, ‘no, oh no. I can’t.’”

Somerset-native Ian Ries came out two years ago after he helped organize the city’s first pride festival.

He said he’s disappointed, not only because of the Netflix special’s content, but because words can have real-world consequences.

“It was just disheartening to see someone with such a platform saying some harmful things,” Ries said. “Content like that contributes to the harm that goes on toward trans people and that really it just reinforces those ideas and beliefs that people may have about trans people in the back of their minds.”

Ries is also a founder of the PFLAG chapter in Somerset. It’s a part of a national organization that supports the LGBTQ community. Ries said anyone can reach out if needed.

They both said there’s a fine line to walk when telling jokes, and it’s complicated, but necessary.

“There’s a lot of hurt and pain that’s there and there’s still people who are very afraid,” Lankford said.

Statistics point to the fear being well founded. According to a study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, transgender people are nearly four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization.

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