Gonna Be Ok (da da doo doom), Just Dance
On Monday, August 29, ABC announced the official lineup for the upcoming season of its hit show, Dancing with the Stars. Since then, the internet has been abuzz with many viewers in an uproar over ABC’s decision to include Chaz Bono as one of the contestants. Many fans of the dance competition feel that allowing him to compete on the show is morally reprehensible and have threatened to either boycott the show, or vote to have Chaz eliminated after the first round. Below are just a few examples Jezebel found on ABC’s DWTS message boards following the line-up announcement:
“Having bono on the show shows how far americas morals have dropped. gay is in and now transgendering. whats next? people who have married their animals? or how about dancing with hookers, that would really be popular.”
“Promoting a Transgender is the next step in normalizing the LG&T life style. If you disagree you are a bigot; another falsehood. Chaz is a very confused person due to their celebrity parents who spent no time in the kids life. This is a common life path for celebrity kids who are adversely impacted while they were young. The fact that ABC has selected Chaz confirms in my mind that the producers probably had the same experience. Misery Loves Company.”
“ABC doesn’t know what “family” or “child-friendly” means. Have you ever seen their ABC Family channel? I would never let children watch that homosexual lust fest. It’s sickening that they try to promote homosexual lust, portray it as something equal with Christian love. But ABC is owned by Disney, purveyor of homosexual entertainment that makes its money off of children.”
In case you have been living under a rock, Chaz Bono was born Chastity Bono, daughter to pop legends Cher and Sonny Bono. After years of intense therapy and hormone injections, Chastity went through life-altering surgery last year to become the man she had always felt she was – Chaz Bono. For what he says started pretty early on in his life, Chaz had suffered from gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder, as it is also known.
While many people assume transgender is simply an extension of being homosexual, it is a completely separate issue. Homosexuality is just that – sexuality. Being transgender, or having gender dysphoria, has to do with how one identifies with his or her own gender, not sexuality. “I’m going to be dancing, I’m not up on there talking about anything other than dancing. People who don’t have gender dysphoria aren’t going to catch it by watching me dance on television.” Chaz was recently on The Ellen Show and explained the difference to Ellen’s audience in the clip below.
Ellen also spoke at the end to express her own disdain for the clear ignorance and hatred that has come from the recent protests stating, “Until we take responsibility for how adults treat one another, until we see that we are doing the same thing we are asking children not to do at school… politicians do it, adults do it… to say that he’s different and that he’s wrong and to try to make something of it is is… shame on us for doing that and be an example for kids.”
Cher, who may have even had more surgeries than her own son by this point, has vehemently defended her son against the harsh and unwarranted backlash since announcing his appearance on the show, tweeting on September 14, “I Understand that some people will NEVER b able 2Understand Chaz’s choice 2b tru 2himself,but There is 1 Life, must he Go thru it n misery [sic].” Respected activist for equality of all types and noted hip hop legend, Russell Simmons, took to his website, Global Grind, on September 7 to plead with Americans to be responsible with their words,
“Transgender youth often suffer from depression, victimization, harassment, discrimination, sexual assaults, beatings, taunting and are even more prone to being victims of homicide… That is what judgment does. That is what fear does. That is what hatred does. The call for a DWTS boycott is a dangerous step backwards in our quest for human liberation and equality. Sadly, these very parents may very well have their own Chastity/Chaz at home desperately looking for a sign that says ‘I’m OK,’… A viewer could be the very person that could be the voice that talks that child down from the ledge when puberty hits and that child is the most vulnerable and most likely to end their own life.”
There are others who feel this whole thing has gotten out of control, not because there is so much hatred out there being thrown at Chaz Bono and the transgender community as a whole, but because this is a show about dancing and we are wasting our time giving the show and the topic any notice at all. On one hand, yes, this IS just a dance show, and we should all just let it go and let the C-list celebrities dance and be done with it.
On another hand, the reason the debate was started is a moot point; the point is that it has been started and an opportunity has presented itself for people like Chaz to teach others greater tolerance and open the discussion to certain topics that have in the past been seen as taboo. Even though, as Chaz himself said, he is not going on the show with an agenda or plans to stand on a soap box and preach to the audience, simply watching someone in the public eye from such a misunderstood and hated community, stand up and be treated like any other contestant is enough of a message to help open others up to the idea that those suffering from gender dysphoria are no different than the rest of us.
Music, art and dance have always played a large role in shining the light on social injustices and bringing about the fight for equality and change during trying times, as all three mediums of expression consistently illustrate their ability to bring together all walks of life, no matter the language, culture or background of the participants. Dance is one of the most basic forms of self-expression. People everywhere can feel it and understand it on a deeper level that goes beyond the boundaries of language and other forms of communication. Sometimes it takes something as “silly” as a dance show to open people up to accepting things they otherwise wouldn’t understand or want to understand.
The hit 80s movie, and recent remake and Broadway adaptation, Hairspray, showcases the Corny Collins Show, a hit dance variety show filmed in Baltimore, MD, and its ability to successfully integrate the city in 1962, when racial tensions were at an all-time high. Sparked by teens’ desires to dance together on a TV show, the uproar to integrate the show shines the light on the hatred and injustices facing the black community. The debate about a dance show provides a less-threatening way to tunnel a discussion about race relations that might have otherwise ended in bloodshed.
The movie, and subsequent play, was based off of The Buddy Dean Show, Baltimore’s premiere dance variety show, and America’s most popular local television show at the time, airing from 1957-1964. Unfortunately, when the show attempted to integrate, as illustrated in Hairspray, it was not as successful as its inspired fictional show, and was soon after cancelled. In spite of being canceled, the show helped to initiate the idea of integration in a city that was far from progressive at the time.
In the case of Chaz Bono, he was born into music royalty and was beloved by the American public as they watched him grow up as the daughter of Sonny and Cher. As Chaz got older, his sexuality was often debated, his choice of fashion and friends often commented on throughout the tabloids. Unfortunately, the same has already started with Shiloh Jolie Pitt, the five-year-old child of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Regardless of who she is or turns out to be, she did not ask to be in the spotlight and is simply learning and growing on her own with two parents that seem rather supportive of her wishes to dress however she pleases. Does Shiloh illustrate gender dysphoria? Who knows, and quite frankly, who cares? Hopefully by the time she is old enough to even consider what that means to her, society will have moved past its harsh judgments and lack of understanding of such a lifestyle. As Ellen pointed out in the above clip, no one would choose to be transgender, it is not a life-choice.
In response to those who claim that regardless of choice, it is simply a crime against God’s wishes, people are entitled to their religious beliefs in regards to changing “how God made us.” However, I seriously doubt any of these people were in an uproar when any of the semi-celebrity women who have had countless plastic surgeries came to dance on the show. And to call it a “family show,” if I was a child living at home, the last thing I would want to do is sit around with my parents watching people with no shame dance on television. For those that do, I’d be more in an uproar about the skin-bearing costumes and the sexually charged dance moves my children are watching.
Only time will tell if Chaz will be given a fair chance to compete against the other contestants. Never the less, whatever your views, Chaz will dance on live television for the first time tonight at 8 p.m., EST, on ABC.
Will you be watching? Are you offended by ABC’s decision to include Chaz Bono on DWTS? Whether you watch the show tonight or not, we invite you to leave us your thoughts on this heated debate below.