Homophobia is still a problem in the world of dance

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Earlier this year, “Good Morning America” ran what was supposed to be a cute culture story about the first-grade curriculum of Britain’s Prince George. But when correspondent Lara Spencer mentioned that the 6-year-old boy was studying ballet, she couldn’t suppress her laughter.

As Spencer said, “We’ll see how long that lasts,” co-host George Stephanopolous and most of the studio audience also laughed. Being laughed at for pursuing dance is familiar to almost any boy who studies the art form, especially ballet.

Deidre Tangorra’s 9-year-old son, Julius, has been aggressively bullied for dancing. At school, he’s been put in a chokehold, tripped and tackled while being called “twinkle toes,” “fairy” and other homophobic slurs. He can’t ride the school bus because of other kids spitting on him, according to both Julius and his mother.

“If a boy wants to do something perceived as slightly feminine, they’re perceived as weaker,” Tangorra said. “It’s not about being against dance, it’s machoness.”

Julius had a strong reaction to Spencer’s laughter and comments. “When she said it, I felt bad and angry and embarrassed,” he said. Following the TV host’s controversial remarks, the dance community rallied to the young royal’s defense, and #BoysDanceToo became a trending social media hashtag.

Spencer apologized for her comments and interviewed three male dancers who discussed their careers and experiences with bullying. Yet, the issue of men being perceived as feminine never came up in their discussion and neither did sexual orientation nor gender identity. The subtext of the apology was that Spencer erred in saying that male dancers aren’t masculine, but not that it’s wrong to laugh at men who have a feminine side.

Many in the dance community felt it was a missed opportunity to address the root of the stigma male dancers deal with — homophobia and misogyny — especially because these exist within the dance world as well.

Read on…

Photos: Kirill Sokolovsky

Boy Ballet Dancer

milkboys Music & Dance 12 Comments

Not many boys dance ballet, but 11-year-old Gabriel Romero, who trains at Thom McIntyre’s Philadelphia Dance Center, is the ultimate boy ballerina (or ballerino). Even if he’s the only boy ballet dancer among dozens of girls, Gabe doesn’t let it get to him. He’s in the studio and at the barre for one key reason: dance is his passion, and he’s not afraid to express it.

Submitted by Paul