'Dancing With the Stars' EP Addresses Chaz Bono Backlash
The inclusion of Chaz Bono in the Season 13 cast of Dancing With the Stars has set off a flurry of negative reactions on ABC message boards.
Many of the 1,000+ comments about the casting accuse ABC of pushing a homosexual agenda with contestants such as the transgender Bono. Bellcindy wrote, "I do not hate Chaz as a person. I just resent the media shoving so much of anyone's personal life choices down our throats. I guess due to ABC's choices, I will kiss this show good-bye too. I wish Chaz well, just as I would anyone else who makes lifestyle decisions that I disagree with (whatever they may be)."
Kmto61056 said, "This show has completely lost a viewer(s). I am DISGUSTED that you would have Chaz Bono on there. He/she can live however he/she would like to live, but do we need to flaunt it for ratings? Really? I hope your ratings sink as low as you have sunk in having Chaz on there."
DWTS executive producer Conrad Green told The Hollywood Reporter those charges are unfounded, "We don't have an agenda of any sorts. I think of the 120 celebrities we've put on the show, we've had, I think now, three transgender or gay contestants. If that's a homosexual agenda, we're not doing very well at it."
Green explained, "What we try to do is reflect a broad range of the entertainment world in the casting of the show, and we're always trying to find new things that people haven't seen, new types of stories and that's what we've been doing this season."
Bono was born with the name Chastity to parents Cher and Sonny Bono. After undergoing a female-to-male gender transition, he legally changed his gender and name in 2010. Bono was paired with fifth year pro Lacey Schwimmer, who competed on So You Think You Can Dance, Wednesday, and competes against contestants such as David Arquette, Ricky Lake, and former Queer Eye for the Straight Guy host Carson Kressley.
Kressley, who is openly gay, was rarely even mentioned in the comments. Instead, negative reactions harped on Hollywood's low moral standards. RACAsper said, "I fully respect ABC's Freedom of Speech. They are free to choose whomever they want for whatever reasons they want. I am also free to turn off the show. I am free to state that I am tired of their never ending assault on moral values. I am tired of hastily flipping the channel when ABC and the other networks show a ferociously violent, sexually charged, or deviant clip from their latest show. They keep pushing the envelope and now they've gone too far in my book."
TammyDLee said, "Why is someone elses sexual preference such a public matter. I don't want to advertise or make public my private choices??????? I just get so tired of 'hollywood' shoving it in my face."
Despite the large volume of criticism, several people on the message board came Bono's defense. TamRN02 wrote, "Chaz is just a regular normal guy (I've met him personally), how is what is between his legs anyone's business. I never really liked this show before, but I for one will watch now. His dancing will not force his 'views' on anyone as someone posted."
Kelleeknolls wrote, "Chaz Bono should be commended for his bravery, especially when I'm sure he knew he'd get this reaction from the closed minded morons of the world!"
carpentergirl2181: "Thank you, ABC for casing Chaz on the show! Very excited to see him dance! This was a solid choice, a brave move, and I'm glad you're not caving to those who are small-minded."
Bono is the subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary, Becoming Chaz. He has also written three books about his struggle to match his gender identity with his physical body.
Green told THR it was Bono's personal story that made him a prime candidate for the show, "It's a fascinating story, his life in the last few years and the changes that he's made in his life. He's got a really interesting story to tell and that's just one facet of it."
The new edition of Dancing With the Stars kicks off Sept. 19.