Let’s be honest. As the controversy around Netflix, the Dave Chappelle comedy special The Closer and the trans community (including those that work for the streamer) continued to unfold since the special debuted, it has become a mess that even Marie Kondo can’t fix. In fact, none of this is bringing us joy.
However, things are starting to look up — a little bit. For one, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos addressed how he and the company “screwed up” when it came to the handling of the special and the backlash it created because of Chappelle’s comments about the trans community. At first, Sarandos defended the special, now he is singing a different tune — but things still haven’t changed. From Hannah Gadsby’s unfiltered take on the controversy to the uproar from the LGBTQ community, it’s been quite a journey.
Enter activist Ashlee Marie Preston.
Preston organized a rally that coincided with a walkout on Wednesday morning to support the trans employees at Netflix. Hundreds of protestors participated outside Netflix’s Vine office in Los Angeles.
B. Pagels-Minor, who was fired last week for allegedly leaking information about the Chappelle special, was the leader of a trans employee resource group at the streamer. Pagels-Minor, who has since denied the allegations (Netflix begs to differ), was at the walkout and read a list of demands from the group. Some of the asks include:
- Removal of references and imagery of Chappelle in the workplace including posters, swag, etc.
- An acknowledgement that The Closer causes harm to the trans community and Netflix’s responsibility on it so the conversation around transphobia continues to evolve;
- Create a fund to develop above the line and below the line nonbinary and trans talent
- Investment in trans or non-binary content on Netflix comparable to our total investment in transphobic content, including comparable investment in the promotion of content
- Investment in multiple trans creators to make both scripted and unscripted programs across genres
- Revisit internal processes on commissioning and/or releasing potential harmful content, involving numerous and diverse parties that can speak on its harm, including consultation on 3rd party vendors
- Revisit the ERG role in conversations around potential harmful content and develop materials to ensure we have the best in class regional support on complicated diversity issues
- Hire transgender content executives in leading positions and promote and inclusive environment for them
- Recruit trans people for leadership roles in the company (director, VP, etc) and promote and inclusive environment for them
- The ability for Trans employees and allies to be able to remove themselves from company promotional content (e.g. allyship videos, etc.)
- Boost promotion for the documentary of Disclosure and other trans-affirming titles in the platform
Transparent’s Joey Soloway was supporting the rally and the walkout and bolstered their message saying they wanted to see a trans person on Netflix’s board. They added that the transphobic comments in The Closer “infinitely amplified gender violence.”
Preston added. “It’s violent to make members of the transgender community who work for your company participate in the oppression of their own community, and we’re here to disrupt that and stand in solidarity with the employees,” Preston said.
Is it too hard to ask for people just to be empathetic and mindful with what they say? Doubling down doesn’t benefit anyone — constructive dialogue and the willingness to listen does. Why can’t we just have nice things?
Once we realize words mean things, then that’s when we can start actually treating each other with respect.
The rally organizer Preston uplifted the community, releasing a video featuring Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness, The Sandman and Cowboy Bebop’s Mason Alexander Park as well as icon Kate Bornstein, Angelica Ross, Jameela Jamil, Our Lady J, Sara Ramirez, Peppermint, and Colton Haynes. In the video, everyone gives supporting words. Watch below.