dancing with the scars

How Come Dancing‘s Louis Van Amstel Has Such a Problem With Calling Out Anti-Gay Bullies?

Though he was willing last season to dance with Niecy Nash to a number about interracial love, Louis van Amstel wasn’t pleased to have his gay-loving partner Margaret Cho wave her fag flag around during what turned out to be their last routine on the show. Having just got done insisting Cho’s rainbow dress “was not a gay flag,” now Van Amstel, who is gay, says the reason they got kicked off was because of her propaganda.

“That was not the story we planned to tell,” the dancer says. “That was not my message. Maybe it was Margaret’s message, but not mine. The minute it was about gay pride, I knew we were gone. I knew it. But if I would have said something then and there, I would have looked like an asshole. The damage was done.”

It’s not too late to look like an asshole. Mission accomplished.

Van Amstel says he and Cho had “a long, serious conversation about it the following day because I couldn’t let it go. I was so unhappy.” According to him, their plan had been to tell the story, through their dance, of her emergence from her painful background of being bullied for being overweight, her subsequent anorexia, suicidal feelings and other difficulties, until she finally learned to accept and love herself. But once the rainbow dress was deemed a gay pride symbol, he says, “She felt, ‘Yes, we’ve got to make a statement. We’ve got that one moment in time with 23 million people watching, we’ve got to take it.'”

“I disagreed with it. I think you change people’s minds by being you — not by provoking, being angry at the world.”

He adds, “One of the people who actually changed my mind was Morgan Freeman. He said, ‘If we take all the labels away, that’s when we will change this world.’ I live by that idea. I live by it.”

Doesn’t that sound familiar? It should — because it’s the exact same line of thinking employed by bigots, who claim identifying LGBTs directly is harmful and ignores all the other types of bullying out there.

Van Amstel says, “If I have to label myself, yes, I’m gay, and I’m proud of who I am and comfortable with myself and my lifestyle. But I don’t want to be limited by that; I don’t want to be put into a box. I don’t want to be labeled in any way because labeling is the beginning of discrimination and hatred.”

Both of which he has felt. Growing up, Van Amstel had his own sad times and experiences with bullies. “For being fat and then for being gay. It makes you very introverted, makes you very quiet,” he believes. “I used that to be creative.”

Well done, Van Amstel. Continue pretending that by not mentioning it, it’ll all go away.