Is Ballroom Dancing Really Gay?

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Is Ballroom Dancing Really Gay?

My parents, in their youth, were both bronze medallion ballroom and latin dancers. Though they never taught me to cha cha or quickstep myself, I did learn an appreciation of quality dancing. This may be why I still look hopefully to Dancing With the Stars, even as their ratings nosedive and the “stars” recruited become ever more obscure.

I was excited to hear that Martina Navratilova was competing on the show this season, partnered with Tony Dovolani.  Described by Billie Jean King as “the greatest singles, doubles, and mixed doubles player who's ever lived”, Martina still holds multiple tennis records even in this post-Williams-sisters era of powerful women tennis players. After retiring from tennis, she tried climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, so is presumably still in good enough shape for dance competition.

And then there's the gay thing. Navratilova came out of the closet in 1981, the same year that Billie Jean King was outed (back when kd and Melissa were still unknown college kids). She has continued as a pioneer in gay rights activism ever since. What lesbian doesn't want a chance to cheer for that?

In the week before the competition began, Martina was considered a favorite to go all the way to the finals. However, in her first two dances, the foxtrot and jive, she crashed and burned, becoming the first contestant voted off the show last Tuesday. What happened?  Perhaps she is not fast enough at learning new things.  Perhaps Tony failed to build a good teacher-student rapport with her.  Perhaps her tennis fan base does not include reality show fans who vote a lot. But the internet buzz is all about the gender identity issue.

The question was posed: is it right for Dancing With the Stars to give this butch lesbian a femme makeover and expect her to feminine-ly shimmy across the dance floor?  For me this opens up a whole raft of other questions. Does she really identify as butch, or is she just a sporty lesbian tomboy who never got a makeover before? Did she actually enjoy the makeover as an alternative experience or was she just enduring it as part of the whole publicity thing? Are her tough tennis image and her sequined dance image both genuine, or is one a falsehood?

Which begs even more questions. Some say Dancing With the Stars is very LGBT-friendly for including gay and transgender stars and I

Comments [3]

Jess Glenny's picture

I don't know how it is in the US,

but in the UK queer ballroom dancing is really big. Maybe it is in Israel too. So I'm also baffled (though in a sad way not surprised) by the feminisation of a clearly, publicly butch woman. Give her a tux and a woman to dance with for god's sake.

Grace Moon's picture

There are so many things

There are so many things wrong with that image of Martina...

lets face it we are still a binary gender culture. the MSM can accept a transman (Chaz) but NOT a butch woman. Gender variance is too difficult for the MS to understand. You either have to be a Man or a Woman.... sooooooooo lame.

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Marcie Bianco's picture

First, let me just say that I

First, let me just say that I met B.J. King at a rest stop on the NJ Turnpike in October...I nearly cried.

Second, regardless of how M.N. identifies they clearly fucked with her gender (once again proving the malleability of gender and the distinction between sex and gender....)

I've not watched the show at all this season but I wonder if they made comments about her body like they did to that soccer goalie (Hope Solo) last year.

If DWTS was RILLLY lgbt inclusive they would provide for same-sex the did on the Israeli version a few years ago.

it all baffles me because ABC is chock full of homos...behind and in front of the cameras....