Transgender advocate and author Chaz Bono recently announced he was giving dancing a try as a contestant on ABC's hit show Dancing With the Stars. Sadly, the 42-year-old son of Sonny and Cher soon faced criticism from some online commentators, who directly attacked Bono over his gender identity and ABC for casting him in the first place. Thankfully, this criticism inspired some strong words of support from those closest to Chaz, the show itself, and other online commentators seeking to counter the anti-trans rhetoric they were seeing.
Chaz himself has said the criticism has inspired him to work harder. “I thought that it would be a challenge, I for so many years was so uncomfortable, and since transitioning I feel so comfortable now I want to do something physically challenging and fun in that way,” Bono said of his decision to join the cast. “I thought it would be a great way to further my message I started with my book and my documentary.”
Following the backlash, Lacey Schwimmer responded to the comments made about her dance partner by saying, "No human is perfect, so why are they pointing out what they perceive to be an imperfection in someone else? It's not cool. We’re all taught to not bully, or harass, and treat everyone as equals yet all these people are doing exactly the opposite."
Schwimmer also talked about her excitement when she found out she would be dancing with Bono: "I was absolutely thrilled. I’ve always been a huge supporter of the LGBT community and I couldn’t be more excited to have Chaz. Not only is he Sonny & Cher’s child but he’s also a generally cool person."
Some of the most strongly worded support has come directly from Bono's own mother, Cher, who took to Twitter in defense of her son and asked fans to add their support to hers.
As for the show itself, Dancing With the Stars Executive Producer Conrad Green answered statements criticizing the show for casting Chaz Bono and openly gay contestant Carson Kressley by saying: "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 [gay] agenda, we're not doing very well at it." He 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."
GLAAD is looking forward to seeing Chaz compete on the ABC program and adds its support and encouragement to those who stand behind his courage for competing on Dancing With the Stars.