Following Monday night’s announcement of the Dancing With The Stars celebrity cast and the subsequent partner pairing announcement on Wednesday, the internet has exploded over the inclusion of Chaz Bono for the show’s 13th season.
The issue at hand is the fact that Chaz Bono used to be Chastity Bono, famous daughter of Sonny and Cher. Over the last few years, Chaz Bono has taken the steps to transition from a woman to a man – culminating in gender reassignment surgery last May.
Chaz Bono is the first transgendered contestant that has ever been on the show. He has been paired with professional dancer Lacey Schwimmer.
Chaz’s upcoming appearance on the beloved reality show has drawn both harsh criticism as well as inspired defenses. Chaz’s mother, pop icon Cher, took to Twitter to express her thoughts on those attacking Chaz across the internet.
Cher has criticized the “stupid bigots” who have attacked the casting of her transgender son on US show Dancing With The Stars.
“Chaz is being viciously attacked on blogs and messageboards about being on DWTS!” Cher said via her Twitter page.
Cher also urged fans to pledge their support for Bono on other social media sites.
“I support him no matter what he chooses to do. It took courage to do DWTS!”
She added that “mothers don’t stop getting angry with stupid bigots” who hurt their children, but said she was sure the “vast majority of people will love Chaz” on the show.
Chaz Bono replied to the comments on his Twitter page saying:
“Thanks for all your support mom. The haters are just motivating me to work harder and stay on DWTS as long as I possibly can.”
Chaz Bono, 42, has been the target of online jokes and hate messages since Monday’s announcement that he would be taking part in the new series of Dancing with the Stars, which begins on 19 September.
Some fans have said they will no longer watch the show – which is one of the most popular programmes in the US – while he is a contestant, while some conservative groups have called for a boycott.
Dan Gainor, of the Culture and Media Institute, called Chaz Bono’s casting “a ridiculous, agenda-driven move” by the show’s producers.
“This is the latest example of the networks trying to push a sexual agenda on American families,” he said.
However, Dancing With The Stars’ executive producer Conrad Green said viewers should watch the new series before passing judgment.
He added the show had no agenda other than entertainment and was seeking to represent a range of people.
“I hope that a lot of the people who appear to be upset at the moment will give him a chance and maybe realise it’s not quite as bad as they think,” he said, in an interview with AP.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation praised the casting of both Bono and gay TV stylist Carson Kressley on the show, calling it “a primetime first.”
“Chaz Bono joining the cast of a series like Dancing with the Stars is a tremendous step forward for the public to recognise that transgender people are another wonderful part of the fabric of American culture,” Herndon Graddick, senior director of programmes, said.