Make Goods

Nigel Lythgoe Is (Suddenly) Sorry for Every Possibly Anti-Gay Comment He’s Ever Made


On the heels of Clay Aiken apologizing to Adam Lambert, just like we predicted Fox forced So You Think You Can Dance judge (and executive producer) Nigel Lythgoe to apologize for his remarks aimed at the pair of male dancers (one straight, one gay), who he told, “You probably alienate a lot of our audience.” Not just that, but he also apologized for one of his Twitter messages that tried making a joke out of Brokeback Mountain. DAMAGE CONTROL!

Here’s his apology to Misha Belfer and Mitchel Kibel:

I sincerely regret the fact that I have upset people with the poor word choices and comments I made both during the taping of the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ audition and on my personal status update. I am not homophobic and it was extremely upsetting for me to be classed as such.

I have been forthright and consistent with my opinion, as a judge, that professional male dancers should move with strength and agility — like Gene Kelly and Rudolph Nureyev. I now realize how this could be misconstrued.

I have been a dancer, and involved in the dance world, for nearly 50 years. Professionally and personally, I believe the sexual orientation of an auditioner or contestant is irrelevant. All that said, the fact that I have unintentionally upset people is distressing to me and it is obvious I have made mistakes that I must learn from. I trust that my humor will be more sensitive and mindful moving forward.


But don’t forget — after the program aired and sites like Queerty erupted with criticism, Lythgoe took to Twitter to defend his comments. That’s when he tweeted, “The same sex ballroom guys did remind me of “Blades of Glory.” However, I’m not a fan of ‘Brokeback’ Ballroom.” Guess who’s apologizing for that one now?

Via Twitter: “I wholeheartedly apologize for my Brokeback Ballroom Tweet. It was insensitive, ignorant and stupid. I have upset a number of dear friends.”


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  • Jackson

    So he regrets that he upset people but isn’t sorry for the words he used? That mess in the 2nd paragraph makes no sense, either. What does effeminance (which was his primary accusation in the first place) have to do w/ strength and agility?

    I don’t think much of his apology. It’s so clearly forced and insincere. As a fan of the show, I think it would be better served by his permanent removal from the judging panel. They have so many better options.

  • Hermitage

    So, he says sincerely hateful things and now he sincerely regrets what he said. I don’t buy it. You can’t just say anything as long as you regret it. And it wasn’t one word or sentence, it was a whole speech and he added to it on Twitter. Hateful and sickening.

  • Bri

    I don’t think he has a clue. He doesn’t understand why his comments correctly lead people to think he’s a homophobe. Sad.

  • sal(the original)

    sounds like someones PR person wrote this

  • BrianZ

    @Bri: Worse, he doesn’t seem to have a clue that he IS a homophobe LOL You have to laugh at the stupidity of it, I think, because it (his humor) certainly wasn’t funny. I mean, who even makes Brokeback jokes anymore?

    You are most likely correct in that this douche still doesn’t realize he’s a douche.

  • Mark M

    But I will say this, as someone who repeatedly sticks his own foot in his mouth: he is a former dancer and not a well seasoned public speaker.

  • The Gay Numbers

    Non-apology apology. It’s like Sen. Allen of Virginia saying “I regret offending some Indians if they were offended by me calling the Macaca.” Or Mel Gibson saying something similar about his comments about women and Jews. It means nothing because it’s making it about our sensitivity rather than his homophobia. Finally, what I see here is something I see a lot- some activity trying to define masculinity because of the baggage society has over feminity versus masculinity. He obviously had a lot of baggage growing up as someone interested in dancing. that’s at base what this is about. The war between the genrders, and how we gays screw up those age old battles for guys like this.

  • dgz

    i think the apology is acceptable for what it is; his twitter apology is better. HOWEVER, this shouldn’t be the end — the show’s producers are equally culpable in how they treated the two, even down to the song played in the background as they exited.

    but again, i really think this story has a silver lining: that he felt compelled to apologize (sort of) and so quickly. thanks to everyone who called and emailed, and to GLAAD for providing the relevant information.

  • Russ

    The whole thing is going down like clock-work, right down the apology/non-apology, if ratings for the show don’t go up in the weeks to follow, I’m a monkey’s uncle.

  • Geoff

    Isn’t this guy gay anyway? Oh wait… he’s Brittish….same thing.

  • hephaestion

    Is there anything more ridiculous than a homophobe who thinks he’s not a homophobe?

    Nigel Lythgoe, non-homophobes don’t make any of the comments you made. Grow up. Try to act like you’re not 12 anymore.

  • hephaestion

    He needs to go apologize to the grave of Jahim, the 11 year old kid in Atlanta who just hung himself because the anti-gay harrassment at work was so unbearable. Jahim’s tormenters got support for their dehumanization of gays from louses like Nigel Lythgoe.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Russ: Agreed about this being a publicity stunt.

  • jason

    Some people might say that Nigel’s outburst was trivial. However, consider this for a moment:

    Imagine you’re a young adult male who has same-sex feelings, and you’re very fearful. You’re very fearful about how your friends will respond, you’re very fearful about how your parents will respond, you’re very fearful about how society at large will respond. You are constantly told by the religious right that you’re “evil”. The liberal entertainment industry, which is SUPPOSED to be open-minded and welcoming to gay men, is also calling you “awful” or “unacceptable”.

    Therefore, you’re caught in a vice between the homphobia of conservatives and the homophobia of liberals.

  • tarheel1023

    SO SAD that they have to berate us and then ooo a flash-it could cost them some $$$$$-so they apologize


  • scott ny'er

    well, at least there was an apology this year.

    he’s an ass and mary was an ass as well.

    i’ll add this tho, if a woman came out and she danced in a masculine way, I’m sure they would have pointed that out too. Unfortunately, these are the rules in certain dance forms, there are masculine and feminine roles.

    and there was a better way to point it out than being an ass about it.

    and no he’s not forgiven because it seemed disingenuous

  • Mika

    wah wah wahhhh I wont pay to hear you be offensive Nygel. I’m getting your show off of youtube or from now on for the fabulous worthy dancers.

  • Jesse

    Obviously, he only said this to avoid the ratings for the show to drop. That, or he was trying to avoid a law suit. What a shame.

  • Paul

    Nigle who?!

  • TexasTwosome

    Here’s a tag for a NEW SHOW: “So You Think You Can Discriminate”?

    Per capita, you have a huge percentage of the gay population that watches your show. Now, I am just trying to figure out the best way to boycott your show in the quickest and most effective manner, via Human Rights Campaign e-mail blast or by an international press release to all gay media venues. Either way it will take a substantial bite out of your audience. Perhaps when you looking for a job in this sad economy you may think twice about who will be the next segment of society you insult.

    Snickering and demeaning sexist and homophobic comments about male dancers, isn’t that a little too cliché for the 21 century?

  • Wayne

    I’m actually a bit surprised that the Dance Community (often filled to the brim with gay dancers) has not publicly spoken out against Nigel’s homophobic bigotry. Pathetic.

  • Robert, NYC

    If he were sincere, it wouldn’t have taken Fox of all stations to force him to apologize. He would be more credible if he’d taken the high road and apologized without any prompting, that’s what decent people do when they realize they’ve made a mistake. He should have apologized the moment he said it on the air. So far, his apology is transparent and questionable as well as suspect.

  • dizzy spins

    Seriously, who cares? A tacky host of what is basically a game show makes fun of some dancers and we all go ballistic. He’s perfectly entitled to his opinion that male dancers need to come from a place of strength. His word choice was tacky, buy it’s hardly on par with Matthew Shephard’s murder, etc.

  • Russ


    I agree with you, the show should be boycotted by both viewers and dancers. The show has made it clear, gay dancers are not welcome.

    @dizzy spins:

    It wasn’t just his opinion, there were remarks made completely unrelated to dancing during this episode and during past episodes.
    Please be informed before you reply.

  • fitc

    he laughed gleefully when they fell … like an evil witch.

    eff this pig. i hope he drops dead of a heart attack.

  • jim

    this faux apology is so disgustingly typical of the “damage control” machine response to this kind of homophobic bullshit. we should not be satisfied until these assholes no longer have public platforms from which to spew their “humor” and ill-worded “criticism.” as has often been stated before, had the comments involved any attackable attribute OTHER than sexual orientation they would never have been uttered in the first place, or if they HAD, would certainly have been edited out. two wrong-doers here: nigella and his program AND the network which airs it!

  • jason

    Yes, it never ceases to amaze that the dance community has consistently failed to condemn homophobic comments. There are plenty of dance groups, yet not one has condemned Nigel to my knowledge.

    Perhaps it’s because the dance community is terrified of being “tarred” with the gay brush.

  • blake


    Fear and self-loathing might be a motivator for their silence. Dancers might be afraid of repercussions for criticizing someone who is perceived as powerful in their field.

    Additionally, many gay men criticize others viciously for being effeminate. “Straight-acting” is held up as something that is the ideal. Think about how some gays go nuts for gay-for-pay porn, straight actors playing gay, the whole “gay face” criticism (gay men criticize others for “looking gay”), etc. Both Johnny Weir and Rudy Gallindo have experienced criticism for being too effeminate in their ice skating.

  • Enrik

    Oh Nigel, I really hope they take you off that show. You’re a talentless fool who thinks he can float through life with a cruddy English accent and a career that peaked in the 70s. Hang it up, old man. Go home and eat out ol’ Bonnie. She wants you back and away from all those slim attractive men. Really, you’re a painful bore and this is probably your last gasp of attention before you retire to the Spanish coast where skin cancer and cheap gin will turn you into a sweaty orange sack.

  • CTC

    One straight and one gay eh? I believe Cat’s exact words after their audition was “So Mitch isn’t out yet and Misha’s sticking around too.”

  • Queerky

    Why does every reality contest feel the need to have an acidic British judge? Simon Cowell’s critique has punch because it is backed up with his reputation as star-maker.
    Just what is this guy known for? Clearly, homophobia is depriving him of finding a good hairdresser.

  • Strepsi

    I buy it. Especially “I have upset a number of dear friends.” I bet Adam Shankman tore him a new one.

  • scott ny'er

    @Strepsi: Only if Adam did it in a very masculine manner. Then Nigel let Adam go to town.

  • el polacko

    some apology ! he still maintains that he does not believe in “brokeback ballroom”. on the show, he said that the couple would “alienate their audience” as if only bigoted str8 people watch the show. but the other judges were just as bad. they were “confused about which one was the woman”… good grief!
    then he sums up by suggesting the guys (one of which was str8, btw) “try dancing with a girl.. who knows, you might like it.”
    screw this show. let them try having NO ratings. who knows, they might like that too.

  • j r

    of course he has apologized. if you want a job in show business, you must be PRO Gay, or gay. you are not entitled to embrace a clean life or beliefs.

  • TANK

    @j r:

    of course he has apologized. if you want a job in [the] show business, you must be PRO Jew, or jewish. you are not entitled to embrace a clean life or beliefs.

    Fuck you, trash.

  • Brent

    Nigel has just “alienated a lot of [HIS] audience.” Dumbass!

  • Puck

    umm, this is going to sound controversial, but I don’t see what he should be apologizing for. He was right. Ballroom dance was designed for a man and a woman, Each having a specific role or part. They decided that they were going to break gender barriers, good for them. Did it look good, not really, did it break any barriers, nope, Did it mess with a dance tradition centuries old in a poor way. Yes. The twitter statement yes was insulting, but I would have made the same joke or something similar and gotten away with it because Im gay. Were being a little to sensitive here, especially considering the two doing that was probably a lot about getting on TV. Remember sex and the gender chameleon, their just going for shock value

  • Robert, NYC


    Queerky, its because American Idol was a spinoff of the original Pop Idol in the UK created by a Brit, Simon Fuller in 2001. The show has gone global thanks to him and Simon Cowell. Similarly, other reality shows are mostly spinoffs from the British versions including So You Think You Can Dance, as well as several game shows.

    In any event, if Lythgoe’s apology were genuine, he would not have needed Fox, of all channels, to remind him. He should have corrected himself and apologized immediately after he said it while on the panel.

  • Robert, NYC


    Its rather ironice that in ballet, males often dance together and nobody raises the “gay” component. Kind of a double standard if you ask me and somewhat hypocritical of society. Society is too stuck in its ways, centuries of brainwashing about gender and role playing. We’re living in the 21st century where gender barriers are gradually being dismantled as equality moves forward. Societal attitudes need to change as a reflection of the time in which we are living, not the past that isn’t necessarily the best of times. The judges reaction is absurd, homophobia aside. Its tantamount to saying that because males have been wearing pants for a couple of centuries, women should be banned from wearing them because they emasculate men. This only proves that homophobia is alive and well and needs to be addressed in every segment of society.

    Puch, another double standard and a classic excercise in hypocrisy is the fact that two women dancing together at a wedding or other social function or even in a disco are rarely ever portrayed as lesbians, but two men….that’s a no-no, get the point? These judges need to grow up, get over it and get with the program.

  • Queerky

    @Robert NYC
    Yes this is well known information. My point being that other reality contests are trying to imitate the success of AI by adding an acidic British judge and it is not working. After Joan Collins boosted ratings for Dynasty, every prime-time American soap had to have a British bitch. American TV has a history of copycat, formula reproduction. Clear?

  • Robert, NYC


    In spite of Lythgoe’s comments, I don’t think its going to have any negative impact nor do I think its going to diminish its success, ditto AI with or without a British accent. For every viewer they lose, the gain two, mostly straight I would think. I don’t have a problem with any accent,acidic American or foreign, for all we know, Lythgoe might be a naturalized U.S. citizen, who cares, its not the point and race shouldn’t play a role, this is just a distraction from the issue at hand, homophobic comments that did not elicit a voluntary apology immediately they were uttered.

  • Just Steve


    Imagine that you are a young adult male with same sex attraction but you’re afraid to come out because all of your friends are laughing at two dudes dancing together quite awfully on national television. You don’t mince, you don’t engage in high drama or camp but those are the only images you see of gay men on TV and media and you figure you can’t possibly be gay because you like hanging out with the guys and tossing the football around. You secretly have the hots for Zac Efron but you have no idea what a Lady Gaga is. If this is gay, you ain’t it.

    So what do you do? You try to push it all down, join the military, get married and hope it’ll all go away. The gay community will eventually criticize you for posting Craigslist ads with the words “straight acting” in them while your wife wonders why you won’t touch her. And the gay community criticizes you for your choices.

    Alternatively, you can come out and try to be yourself and try to find another guy you’re attracted to but don’t advertise for a “straight acting” guy because the gay community will come down on you with the full force of its post-feminist queer theory to show that unless you let your inner woman/bitch/girl out, you’re merely a self-loathing homosexual with internalized homophobia.

    I think Nigel’s initial comments were misguided but I understand where he’s coming from. If Rufus Wainwright were to play a hard nosed detective, one would expect him to butch it up to play the role. Dance is part acting. Couples dancing has roles…not necessarily male and female…what we, gays can show, is that it is about the hunt, pursuer and pursued, it’s seduction. Here’s an example Two Guys to Tango. Perhaps the tango has an advantage because it was originally danced by men, being deemed too passionate for women.

    Nigel clearly crossed the line at no “brokeback” ballroom because he moved from effeminate dancing to a jibe of two men dancing together, which is homophobic.

  • hyhybt

    OK, I know this isn’t the place to ask, but then there isn’t really one so here goes: it’s nearly noon on a Monday. Isn’t Queerty usually “awake” by now? There doesn’t seem to be anything for today at all. Which is fine, I guess; I just hope it isn’t an ominous sign.

  • darek

    He doesn’t have anything to apologize for. Dancing, specifically partnered dancing, has a submissive and dominant role – flip flopping between the two roles is confusing and are to judge and critique.

  • Darrien

    @hyhybt: It’s Memorial Day Weekend in the US, so it’s a national holiday. The Queerty staff are all at home drinking beer, most likely

  • hyhybt

    So it is! Well, that’s a relief.

  • dgz

    … and yet they love contemporary dancers who run around the stage, and flop on the floor “emoting.” so, clearly their ability to judge isn’t hampered by a lack of specific rules differentiating “good” movement from “bad.”

    whether these two were good or bad dancers, all three judges were blinded by homophobia, not by the constraints of latin ballroom competition rules (a field nigel and sonya know little or nothing about, anyway).

  • DavidfrankRay

    The sad part is that Nigel comes off as a queen hisself with the too long, too blond hair, and prissy manner. So his anti-gay comments just seem like so much self hate. It’s like, I had to try and butch it up to become a dancer…so you should too. Poor bugger, I almost feel sorry for him.

  • Joe

    Honestly, someone should tell his hair the rest of him is homophobic so it can quit that bitch.

  • KB

    Male dancers on previous seasons have often been criticized for not appearing masculine or strong enough next to their female partners.

    I don’t believe that the judges look at the dancers (and their gender, character portrayal, etc.) in the same way as the younger audiences of the show.

    I’m more annoyed by these stupid comments (as well as Ryan and Simon’s homophobic banter on American Idol) than whether Nigel’s apology was sufficient. People Nigel’s age (including all the SYTYCD judges) need a reality check that most people under 30 don’t look at gender the same way as them, just as they don’t look at race the same way!

  • sal(the original)

    he’s got the farah fawcett flip goin on

  • alan brickman

    once again they danced horribly and played gay card…the real heroes in dancing are the stright guys who have to suffer gay taunting for just wanting to dance…

  • Richard in DC

    I honestly think that those two dancers were manipulating the affections of gay and lesbian people to gain national attention. The fact that one admits to not being gay implicitly confirms this. I’m glad the judge called him out on it.

  • Katie

    You mean Nigel’s not gay himself? He seems pretty in the closet to me …

  • JD


    No. Not watching it anymore.

    I have better things to do, and now that this has happened, I have another compelling reason to skip the show and do them.

  • rick

    got to agree with nigel. they alienated me and i’m gay.

  • rick

    i don’t think one was gay and one was str8. they are both nancy boys and lousy dancers.

  • GirlyQ

    I’m with you, Just Steve. I have a dear friend who struggled for years with his sexuality because he was so ‘straight-acting’. On the basketball team, loved sports, had zero interest in pop divas or fashion. Even now, he gets crap from the gay community for not ‘accepting his inner queen’.

    I’ve watched the show for a long time, and I don’t think it’s so much a sexuality thing. It’s a masculine thing, and gay guys can be masculine, holy shit! Of the very gay Danny Tidwell, Nigel said: “every young man watching this show should aspire to be as good as you”. The dancers were not very good that night. Nigel was probably crabby after days of that and acted like an ass. End of story.

  • Cam

    I love how all the judges pretend that they have never seen two men dancing before.

    “Oh Gee, I didn’t know how to rate you because it was confusing when you switched back and forth” My comment to them is Hey idiot, you are supposed to be a professional and you’re telling me you can’t judge footwork on a ballroom number?

    And I especially love the judge with the mohawk and the nose ring acting all shocked that the two men were dancing together. Gee, I guess you want everybody to think you are edgy…but just not THAT edgy huh poser?

  • Jamie

    @Puck: I’m the one who danced as the gender chameleon and, for me, it was not just for shock value. It’s how I express my gender identity. Can I dance professionally? No. Can I entertain in a creative way? I think so. The judges were truly entertained and I didn’t feel any homophobia at the time, but I can understand how Nigel’s remarks can appear that way. Glad it was acknowledged! And Mia Michaels is THE BEST!

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