Tonight, a new season of Dancing With the Stars begins, featuring Chaz Bono as one of the most-talked-about contestants (sorry, Carson Kressley). Author Matt Kailey couldn't help noticing that amid all the chatter was a current of concern.
Matt Kailey is a transsexual man and an award-winning author, blogger, and community leader, as well as a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on transgender issues. He is the author of Just Add Hormones: An Insider’s Guide to the Transsexual Experience (Beacon Press), a Lambda Literary Award finalist. This post originally appeared on his blog Tranifesto.
Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch.
The uproar hasn’t stopped since it was announced that Chaz Bono will be one of the cast on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, which premieres tonight.
While there are many people who are supportive of Chaz and his appearance, plenty more crawled out from under their rocks to be shocked, appalled, and offended in the comments section of the DWTS website.
Of course, there are the usual yawners harping about chromosomes and destiny, but in addition, a whole new group has materialized – parents who aren’t going to watch the show because they don’t know how to explain a man dancing with a woman to their children.
The Dancing with the Stars website is littered with these concerned comments – How am I going to explain this to my five-year-old? What will I tell the children? We’re not going to be watching this season, because I don’t want my children to see this!
I understand. It is concerning when children are exposed to heterosexual dancing. At best, a man dancing with a woman seems just a tad bit edgy – and worst-case scenario, it’s just plain immoral. After all, you know what dancing leads to! I believe they covered that a long time ago in the movie Footloose (when today’s concerned parents were kids).
So I want to offer the following tips to those parents who are worried that their children will lose their innocence by watching this season’s DWTS:
- Before the show starts, sit down and explain to the kiddies that sometimes boys and girls see each other across a crowded gymnasium at prom, and while the senior high band plays their special rendition of “Back to Black,” they are all simply compelled to get up and dance – with each other! Tell the kids that someday they will understand – the dancing and the words to “Back to Black.”
- Pick out an innocent song from your own youth – say, “She Bop” by Cyndi Lauper or “Little Red Corvette” by Prince – and start dancing with each other. There’s no better way to break the kids in than to have them witness their own mother and father spinning around the living room together. When you’re finished, explain to them that when grown-ups fall in love, it’s natural for them to want to dance together. Someday, unless they grow up to be perverts, they, too, will be dancing with members of the opposite sex.
- Go on YouTube and find old clips from American Bandstand. Show them that heterosexual dancing on television is nothing new. The only difference is that it’s now available in full color on the big screen. If they’re grossed out and scared, assure them that Dick Clark will not be hosting Dancing with the Stars.
- Find the video of President and Mrs. Obama dancing together at his inauguration. When they can see that even the president and his wife dance together, in public, and on television, they will come to realize that this is perfectly normal and natural and nothing to be concerned about. It really is a beautiful thing.
Once you have done all these things, turn on Dancing with the Stars. If they start to wiggle or become uncomfortable when the various couples come out and dance, remind them of everything you have shown them.
Hold each other’s hand and sway gently to the music so they can be comforted by the image of the two of you enjoying the show. As each couple takes the stage, say, “See? It’s okay.” Soon your children will realize that there is nothing disgusting, sinful, or immoral about a man and a woman dancing together.
And that’s how you explain it to the children.