Scene: Two dancers. Both male. One straight, the other gay. Dancing. Together. That was the scene on last night’s fifth season premiere of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance — and the first time any of the three judges saw two men dancing together. Who’s the man and who’s the woman? Who’s leading, and who’s following? And, most importantly, are Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy’s comments rooted in traditional dance roles … or blatant homophobia?
We’re gonna go with the latter. (Scroll first video to the 5:00 mark. Segment continues on second clip.)
Said Lythgoe: “I think you probably alienate a lot of our audience. I mean, we’ve always hadthe guys dance together on this show, but they’ve never really done it in each other’s arms before. I’m certainly one of those people that really like to see guys be guys and girls be girls on the stage. I don’t think I liked it.”
Later, said Murphy: “It would’ve been easier for me, in other words, if one person was playing a female role and one was playing a male role.” Added Lythgoe: “I don’t think you want to see two guys there and think male-female.”
Even in the era of Adam Lambert, we’ve still got folks like Lythgoe, who last year described why he didn’t like effeminate male dancers: “Because they need to be very strong. Dancing is role-playing most of the time. And you need to be strong and lift girls. You need to look stronger than the girl you’re dancing with. You control the dance, especially in ballroom. So if you mince about the stage, you’re not doing what the choreographer is asking you to do. He’s asking you to be strong. If your choreographer then wants to do an effeminate routine, then that’s fine, but most of the time we don’t do effeminate routines so straight or gay doesn’t come into it for me.”
Is it time to open up dancing to new ideas of gender roles? Not according to Nigel. Following last night’s episode, Misha Belfer and Mitchel Kibel shared what went down with AfterElton. It was worse than viewers saw:
It was more offensive than what they showed. Nigel said that he’s not sure that the fathers watching this at home would be encouraged to take their sons to allow them to learn to dance. Nigel told me that they [the show] has spent all these seasons trying to build up the idea that a male can dance and make it more acceptable, and we didn’t really help the cause.
I told him that I have a father, too, and I went through that. I told him that the country is already going through a lot of changes and could handle some more. Nigel didn’t say anything to that.
The judges kept going on about a man and a woman and I kept correcting them that it was a leader and a follower.
Nigel asked me after the choreography round, how I liked dancing with a girl and I said, “I’ve been ballroom dancing since I was twelve, so I’ve been dancing with girls my whole life.” It was very inappropriate and the only reason they advanced us wasn’t to see if we could improve or be versatile, but was to make us dance with girls.
We’re fighting for equality in this country and the right to marry and the right to adopt, so why the f–k can’t we dance together?
I told them ballroom dancing is very popular in the gay community and is a sport. It’s part of the World Outgames and Mitchel and I are going to compete in Copenhagen in July.
As a British citizen, Nigel totally put this country down by saying we’re not ready for this.
Fox owes me an apology for how they treated me as a gay man. I’ve never been so proud and offended at the same time as I was that night. Mitchel said he’s never been so offended either and didn’t know how to react to that kind of bigotry. He’d never been oppressed like a minority. He felt very angry.
But should we target all of SYTYCD?
The judges were mean, but the producers and the staff were super supportive. Cat Deely was great. Did a long interview with her that she didn’t show.
One woman told us we had broken a glass ceiling.
UPDATE: Lythgoe refuses to apologize.