Comedian Patton Oswalt simultaneously apologized for and defended his decision to post a photo of himself and his longtime friend Dave Chappelle despite controversy over Chappelle's views on transgender rights and identity.
Oswalt posted several photos Saturday on Twitter and Instagram of himself and Chappelle on New Year's Eve. He wrote on Instagram that he had finished a set in Seattle when he got a text from Chappelle.
"Come over to the arena he’s performing in next door and do a guest set. Why not? I waved good-bye to this hell-year with a genius I started comedy with 34 years ago," Oswalt wrote. "He works an arena like he’s talking to one person and charming their skin off. Anyway, I ended the year with a real friend and a deep laugh. Can’t ask for much more."
Many of the comments that remain on Instagram are from fans of the comedians. Oswalt later admitted that he had deleted negative comments.
Comments on Twitter were more critical. "As a trans person and a fan of your work, this is extremely disappointing. You’ve been open about your journey towards more empathetic comedy, so I ask you: please think about how this makes your trans fans feel," one person wrote.
Chappelle faced backlash in October after the debut of his Netflix special "The Closer," which critics said was transphobic and harmful to transgender communities.
The controversy sparked a walkout at Netflix and prompted co-CEO Ted Sarandos to say "I screwed up" when it came to communicating with the employees hurt by Chappelle’s words. The special remains available to stream on Netflix.
Chappelle said later that he would be willing to meet with transgender employees of Netflix who have called for it to remove the special, but he added that a meeting would have to be on his terms. "You will not summon me," he said.
Oswalt posted a long response on Instagram accompanied by a photo of him writing on a notepad.
"I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time this New Year’s Eve. We’ve known each other since we’re teens. He’s a fellow comedian, the funniest I’ve ever met. I wanted to post a pic & an IG story about it — so I did. The friend is Dave Chappelle," he began.
Oswalt reiterated his admiration for Chappelle and said the two had been friends for 34 years.
"He’s refocused and refined ideas a lot of us took as settled about race & history & Life On Planet Earth and spun them around with a phrase or punchline," Oswalt wrote.
"But we also 100% disagree about transgender rights & representation. I support trans peoples’ rights — ANYONE’S rights — to live safely in the world as their fullest selves," he said. "For all the things he’s helped ME evolve on, I’ll always disagree with where he stands NOW on transgender issues."
Oswalt added that he doesn't believe Chappelle is done learning, calling his friend a "seeker." He also wrote that he wonders whether he has caused friends he had cut off over disagreements to "dig their heels in deeper, fuel their ignorance with a nitro-boost of resentment and spite."
"I’m sorry, truly sorry, that I didn’t consider the hurt this would cause. Or the DEPTH of that hurt," Oswalt said.
He also said he had "(naively) deleted a lot of posts in the comment thread," saying he "wanted a 'nice comment thread' about the pic with my friend."
"Ugh. So easy to think someone ELSE needs growth and miss the need in yourself. Gonna keep trying," Oswalt concluded.
When reached by NBC News, representatives for Oswalt said he "prefers to let his posts stand on their own." Chappelle's representatives did not respond to requests for comment.