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Netflix defends Dave Chappelle and suspends trans employee

LGBTQ Media watch group GLAAD responded saying that anti-LGBTQ content is technically against Netflix policy

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Screenshot via SKYNEWS Australia YouTube

LOS GATOS, Ca. – The outcry by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and allies since the release last week of the Netflix Dave Chappelle’s comedy special The Closer, regarding transphobic and other anti-LGBTQ innuendo and statements by the comedian grew on Monday after the company suspended one of its Trans employees.

Adding more fuel to the ongoing controversy in a memorandum to the company’s staff members obtained by entertainment trade news magazine Variety, sent last week by Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, the company executive defended Chappelle.

“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him. His last special “Sticks & Stones,” also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date,” Sarandos wrote in the memo.

“As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful,” he added.

Sarandos in his memo wrote, “Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”

LGBTQ Media watch group GLAAD responded to Sarandos’ memo saying that anti-LGBTQ content is technically against Netflix policy.

Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence’ is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that,” the statement reads. “While Netflix is home to groundbreaking LGBTQ stories, now is the time for Netflix execs to listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards.”

After the special aired, Terra Field, an Out Trans Netflix senior software engineer based in San Francisco, posted a series of tweets that expressed anger over Chappelle’s blatant transphobia.

Field in her Twitter thread countered the position laid out by Sarandos, pointing out that Chappelle’s promoting the kind of ideology and speech can result in real-world consequences especially death for Trans people. 

In her tweets, Field writes, “Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the Trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups. You’re going to hear a lot of talk about ‘offense.’ We are not offended.” 

Field went on to say of Chappelle, “our existence is ‘funny’ to him – and when we object to his harm, we’re ‘offended.’” She then listed numerous names of Trans people, specifically highlighting Trans women of color, killed in hate crimes. The thread went viral and as of Monday, the initial tweet had more than 13,000 retweets and 35,000 likes.

In reporting by both The Verge and Variety on Monday, Field and two other employees were suspended by the company although Netflix denies that Field was suspended due to the twitter thread. A source in the company told Variety that Field, who identifies as queer and Trans, and the other employees were not invited to the virtual gathering last week of the company’s executives, the “QBR” — Netflix’s quarterly business review, a two-day affair that convenes the top 500 employees at the company.

“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety.

Neither Field nor Netflix responded to requests for comment Monday by the Blade.

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Arts & Entertainment

André Leon Talley dies at 73

Iconic Black fashion journalist was born in D.C.

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André Leon Talley being interviewed in the 1990's (Screenshot via YouTube)

André Leon Talley, a formidable iconic fashion journalist and the former creative director and one-time editor-at-large of Vogue magazine, passed away at age 73 of unspecified causes at a hospital in White Plains, an inner suburb of New York City in Westchester County, New York.

News of the famed fashion journalist’s death Tuesday was first reported by celebrity news and gossip site TMZ.

Talley was known for his close friendships with designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Tracy Reese, Rachel Roy, and singer/actress Jennifer Hudson, and Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour among others.

Talley worked at Vogue during an unprecedented time of growth in the fashion industry in the 1980’s and 1990’s. From 1983 until late 1987, he was the magazine’s the news director and was then promoted to Vogue’s creative director in 1988, a post he held until 1995. He later came back to the magazine in 1998 as the editor-at-large until his departure in 2013.

Born in D.C. on Oct. 16, 1948 and raised in North Carolina, Talley graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French Literature in 1970 from North Carolina Central University. He later attended Brown University, after he was awarded a scholarship, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in French Literature in 1972.

Talley’s early career as a journalist saw him working at Andy Warhol’s Factory and Interview magazine. He later became the Paris bureau chief for Women’s Wear Daily.

His later career saw Talley hosting his own radio show principally concerned with fashion and pop culture on Sirius XM. He also released a book “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir” on May 19, 2020, which detailed his early career start and some of the issues he encountered as a Black man.

Talley was also an LGBTQ icon. When asked about his sexual orientation by daytime chat show host Wendy Williams during a May 29, 2018 appearance, he stated, No, I’m not heterosexual; I’m saying I’m fluid in my sexuality, darling.”

André Leon Talley, fashion’s godfather | fashion icon profile:

VideoFashion profile in 2020 marking of the release of André Leon Talley’s memoir, “THE CHIFFON TRENCHES.”

André Leon Talley | full address | Oxford Union:

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Out & About

DC Center to host estate planning seminar series

Three sessions presented by Murray Scheel

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The DC Center hosts a series of talks on end-of-life planning next week.

The DC Center for the LGBT Community and the DC Department on Aging and Community Living will host “Estate Planning Tools with Murray Scheel” via Zoom. 

Scheel will walk guests through the process of taking care of the end-of-life planning business that needs to be addressed during the golden years. Scheel is Senior Staff Attorney at Whitman-Walker Health’s Legal Services.

This event series will consist of three 1.5-hour sessions:

Jan. 19, 3 p.m. – “Tools for while you’re living” (overview, general power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, disposition of remains, etc.)

Jan. 26, 3 p.m. – “Tools for after you’re gone” (living wills, last wills, assets, etc.)

Feb. 2, 3 p.m. – “Healthcare insurance & long term care” (Medicare, Medicaid, correcting misinformation, skilled nursing, hospice care, etc.)

To register for this event, visit the DC Center website.

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Out & About

DC Center to host legal seminar for trans people

Attorney Richard Tappan and paralegal Miranda Shipman to give legal advice

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The DC Center for the LGBT Community will host a “Gender and Name Change Legal Seminar” on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. online. 

Attorney Richard Tappan and paralegal Miranda Shipman will give legal advice and speak on the importance of the legal community within the LGBTQ community, the difficulties of the LGBTQ community in the legal field and name and gender changes. 

Guests can find the link at the DC Center website.

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