Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Dancing With the Stars:" LGBT Edition!

They just announced the cast of "Dancing With the Stars," and it's the same wonderful mix of random celebrities and athletes as always.

But I'm glad, and GLAAD's glad, that ABC has decided to embrace some diversity and have an openly gay man and a transgendered man on the show this season! Talk about a step forward!

Carson Kressley, of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" fame, and Chaz Bono, of "Being Sonny & Cher's Kid" fame, are both set to hoof it on DWTS this season.

First of all, I absolutely love Carson. I did a girly little squeal when he was announced. His segments were always my favorite on "Queer Eye," because he has so much energy and he is clearly passionate about fashion. (Although, I must say, after many hours of watching "Chopped," my all-time favorite of the Fab Five is now Ted Allen.) You can critique "Queer Eye" for stereotyping gay men a bit - not all gay guys are fabulously fashionable like the guys on the show - but it was really an overall positive show that I think helped people accept gay people a little bit more. Also, I hope that he gets to dress himself and his partner on DWTS because he has great taste.

But, really, is anybody going to blink an eye at Carson? Flamboyant, fashionable gay men have been on TV for years. It's always good to have another positive gay role model, but he won't exactly be a surprise to people.

No, the real challenge, the real surprise, the real shock to people has been, and will be, Chaz Bono. I sure don't envy him ... he's going to be THE spokesman for transgenders on TV, because how many other transgendered people do you see on TV? Shows on Logo don't count. I think I remember one other transgendered person on a network show, Isis on "America's Next Top Model" (who is going to be on the show's All-Stars edition this year!). Chaz is practically alone as a transgendered person on network TV. Thankfully he's already dipped his toes into those waters with the documentary about his life and transition from female to male, and he's done the talk show circuit ... but this is a huge show with a huge following. He's an incredibly brave man to do this.

The obnoxious questions have already started, starting with, "Will Chaz Bono dance with a MAN or with a WOMAN?" To me, someone who has made a point to learn how to be sensitive to LGBT issues as much as possible, knew the answer was "woman," because Chaz is a man regardless of the fact that he was, biologically, a woman when he was born ... but just that question told me that there's going to be a huge learning curve for your average American as they watch Chaz's "Dancing With the Stars" journey.

There has also been some backlash, with Reuters reporting that some fans of the show are upset about Chaz being cast. Other people are rightly calling them out for their bigotry against him, but it must be hard for Chaz to see people writing online that they're "sick" that he's going to be on TV because he was once a woman. (Of course, other people are upset because he's overweight and only on the show because he has famous parents ... but if those weren't allowed then they wouldn't have a show!)

At any rate, I hope Chaz goes on there, dances his ass off and shows the haters that he deserves to be on the show! And even if there are people out there who are narrow-minded and dislike him or Carson because of their sexualities, I hope that there are people out there who are inspired by their bravery and their unwillingness to allow small-minded people to silence them from being who they are!

Go Carson! Go Chaz! I am so glad there are brave people like you on TV!

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