Chaz Bono can’t dance. And that’s a good thing.
October 4th, 2011
And I’m glad he can’t. Here’s why.
When it was announced that Chaz, a transgender man who was known to many as Cher’s daughter Chastity, would be competing on Dancing With the Stars, those who ‘love the sinner but hate watching him on TV’ threatened to boycott. The Christian Post did a good job of collecting the real-sounding excuses for objecting to Chaz.
“I personally do not mind watching Chaz,” wrote Callisandria2. “The problem is that I watch this show with my 10 year old daughter. I am sure the show will talk about Chaz and the controversy, and I am not ready to explain all of that to her yet. We just barely covered the birds and the bees. We always watch one show together, in the fall it’s DWTS, and in the spring it’s American Idol. Looks like we will try X-factor instead this season.”
Other fans were more blunt.
“Manufactured genitalia is not the conversation I want to have with my children,” said trident606.
Some fans had moral issues regarding Chaz Bono’s gender reassignment and refused to accept Bono’s “male” status.
Many posters were less concerned with Bono’s gender status than they were with the fact that he is not really a “star” in the first place.
“The name of the program is Dancing With the Stars. Since when is Chaz a star?” said an anonymous poster. “Okay, he starred in his own documentary about his transition to male, but other than that what has he done with his life? Stardom? Not hardly. I think I’ll pass on watching this season. Maybe they’ll get some stars next season.”
(Well… okay, I can agree with the last one. I do refer to the show as Dancing With the Has-Beens.)
But the show didn’t budge and the sinner-lovers didn’t boycott. And, as usual, DWTS is a hugely successful crowd pleaser. And, as it turns out, Chaz Bono can’t dance. At all. Even if you have a few cocktails. And squint.
Nope, Chaz Bono can’t dance.
Which is, as I said, a good thing.
Because while the judge express admiration for Chaz, they give him low scores. And on DWTS, the judges scores are combined with the viewers’ called-in votes to determine who will be eliminated. So unless the voters “save you”, your ability to impress the dance judges is what advances you each week. And so far this season, Chaz Bono has survived the first two eliminations with abysmal scores.
If Chaz could dance we might assume that his continued presence was due to fancy footwork or judge favoritism. But unlike the charming and Carson Kressely (who also appears to be a crowd favorite), Chaz’ continued presence can only suggest that DWTS’ voters have connected.
So just who are these viewers that are tuning to watch and vote for the transgender man with “manufactured genitalia”? Who is it that is choosing
Well, if you know a bit more about the demographic, you might understand how Jennifer Gray and Ralph Machio are “stars”. DWTS is the most popular show among adults ages 50 and over. The median viewer age is 60. When Aunt Thelma gets with her friends to watch, she’s the youngster in the room.
Yesterday, Chaz achieved a bit of an accomplishment: his dancing was even worse than the week before. Going into tonight’s elimination, he has 18 out of 30 point, three below his nearest competitor.
The odds are that Chaz will go. But whether or not the voters save Chaz Bono’s dancing feet, they’ve spoken their opinion loud and clear.
They may not fully understand why Cher’s little girl is now a rather hefty man with a beard, but he’s welcome in their living room. And that’s why I’m glad that Chaz Bono can’t dance.
Gaga’s marriage push
June 16th, 2011
I don’t tweet. Lady Gaga does.
Which means, if I understand this correctly, those of you who decide to check BTB will get my opinion when you get around to reading it, while 10,958,546 people get Gaga’s opinion more-or-less immediately.
And here is what they have been reading today:
Annabel – discussion thread
February 22nd, 2011
While the death of gay-themed book stores (and the waning of traditional book stores in general) has cut back on one’s ability to peruse shelves of books with gay themes and characters, there is still an abundance of gay literature available. You may have to search online, but it is there.
Books on gay politics, theory, history, biography and erotica abound. But nothing is more important than novels, books which tell our stories and which connect us to the world. Fiction removes the specifics of real situations and generalizes in a way that allows a reader to step outside their world, empathize with a character, and share a new experience.
And there are many many novels available which express the lives of gay men. Some of them are even worth the time to read. Fewer, but still present, are novels which share the dreams, passions and possibilities of gay women.
But novels – or fiction of any sort – which share the lives of the trans members of our community are almost unheard of. And what fiction that does include trans characters or stories can feel a bit like ‘oooh, look at the freak’ or Very Very Earnest, neither of which make for a particularly pleasurable read.
So when I ran across Annabel by Canadian author Kathleen Winter my interest was piqued. I picked it up on whim, and I’m glad I did.
Annabel isn’t strictly a trans story (the main character was born intersex) but it does speak to gender discovery and is likely to have feeling of familiarity to both intersex and trans people. This is not my story or my experience, so I can’t be much of a judge as to its honesty or accuracy.
While this book is not without some technical and literary flaws, I’m enjoying the story. However, I wonder what our trans and intersex readers think. Have any of you read the book?
Please share with us your perspectives on this book or on other trans literature.
NOTE: I’m still a few chapters from finishing – and no doubt there will be others who will want to pick up the book without having the story spoiled – so please don’t give away of the plot.
Adios Betty la fea
April 15th, 2010
For four seasons ABC’s Ugly Betty has delighted us. Drawing on it’s Columbian telenova roots, it was over the top, lunatic, and histrionically dramatic. There were murders, embezzlements, and plots and schemes ranging from sabotaged runways to stolen sperm.
But in spite of the improbable antics (or perhaps because of them) this show managed to present America with a broad range of gay characters, full of depth, unique, and interesting. Gone were the sincere very special after school movie characters who were gay bashed or dying of AIDS. Absent were the poor rejected teen thrown out of the house by conservative and disapproving parents. There wasn’t even the obligatory closedted gay character brought on to bravely come out and fall in love only to be written out once the drama was over.
Instead, Ugly Betty gave us LGBT characters who were integral to the story line and who were as fabulous, fierce, flawed and frantic and the straight characters around them. The more important included:
Marc St. James (Michael Urie) – Marc was the gay stereotype on steroids. He was flamboyant, bitchy, fashion obsessed, self centered, and above all insecure. The personal assistant to the show’s chief villain, Marc was (along with his best friend Amanda) Betty’s tormentor. He ran a daily blog on Betty’s unfashionable attire and came dressed as her for Halloween.
But over the show story arc, Marc came to represent personal growth and redemption. As he developed a fondness for Betty, he also developed character and personal integrity and, in time, his shallowness became more of a mask behind which he quietly did the right thing. Part of his transition is founded on his interaction with Justin, in whom Marc saw a younger version of himself. Once a principle schemer and betrayer, by the end Marc was in many ways the conscience of the show.
Alexis Meade (Rebecca Romijn) – The first season’s drama revolved around a Mystery Lady who, in bandages, was somehow scheming with the villain, Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) to take over Mode Magazine. She was revealed to be Alex, the older son of the Meade media mogul, once thought dead but now returning as Alexis after a secret sex change.
This could have been played for laughs – and it was in many ways. And Alexis’ sexuality was a bit confusing as it seems that she had dated women in her male past (perhaps out of expectation) and now dated men. But the show was careful to clarify that Alexis was transgender, not a man in a dress, and that this was not the same thing as gay. And while her transgender status was at times more of a gimmick, this was one of few fully developed transgender characters on a television show.
Alexis was not in the fourth season.
Justin Suarez (Mark Indelicato) – When we first met Betty’s nephew Justin, then a young teen, gaydar across the nation went off. Effeminate, obsessed with fashion and pop culture, and possessed of a vibrant and sunny disposition, Justin was recognizably pre-gay. But unlike shows that go for the easy drama, Justin’s storyline was not all just “picked on at school” or “caught wearing mother’s clothes”. Instead, while Justin was at times tormented and hated P.E., his was a primarily happy life with a supporting mother, cool aunt, and doting grandfather.
Much of the conflict in Justin’s plotline revolved around his family’s uncertainty as to how to be there for Justin without pushing him in any direction. Particularly sensitive was the way in which Marc, as a mentor, never presumed that Justin was gay and was supportive of Justin’s brief exploration of liking a girl. Even half way through the final season, there was no certainty that Justin was a gay character. But in the last few episodes, he came to know himself, find a boyfriend, and come out to his family in a sweet and – for this show – surprisingly non-dramatic way.
So good-bye to Betty and all of her gay family and friends. I’ll miss them.