Thursday's premiere of So You Think You Can Dance featured the audition of a same-sex pair (one straight, one gay).
The audition is introduced by zooming in on a men's bathroom as "It's Raining Men" is cued up. After their introduction, the dancing begins. Judge Nigel Lythgoe is immediately uncomfortable and points out, "the hand's on the back of his neck."
While the dancing was certainly not in top form (they did make an error), it was the non-dancing critiques that are the problem here. Judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe has made homophobic remarks before. You may remember last year when Lythgoe told a dancer he looked like he'd been anally violated. Or in 2007 when he mocked a dancer for not being masculine enough. This was the first time Lythgoe had encountered a same-sex couple audition though.
Says Lythgoe: "I think you'd probably alienate a lot of our audience. We've always had the guys dance together on the show but they've never really done it in each other's arms before. I'm really one of those people that like to see guys be guys and girls be girls on stage. I don't think I liked it, to be frank."
Lythgoe tells them he'd like to see them dance with a woman, "You never know, you might enjoy that, too." The exit song that played as they walked off was "It's a man world, but it would mean nothing, nothing without a woman."
AfterElton talked with one of the dancers, Misha, who filled in more of what went on at the audition:
"It was more offensive than what they showed. Nigel said that he's not sure that the fathers watching this at home would be encouraged to take their sons to allow them to learn to dance. Nigel told me that they [the show] has spent all these seasons trying to build up the idea that a male can dance and make it more acceptable, and we didn't really help the cause. I told him that I have a father, too, and I went through that. I told him that the country is already going through a lot of changes and could handle some more. Nigel didn't say anything to that. The judges kept going on about a man and a woman and I kept correcting them that it was a leader and a follower. "
Nigel Lythgoe issued an apology for his remarks. Here is his statement, via GLAAD:
“I sincerely regret the fact that I have upset people with the poor word choices and comments I made both during the taping of the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ audition and on my personal status update. I am not homophobic and it was extremely upsetting for me to be classed as such.
I have been forthright and consistent with my opinion, as a judge, that professional male dancers should move with strength and agility — like Gene Kelly and Rudolph Nureyev. I now realize how this could be misconstrued.
I have been a dancer, and involved in the dance world, for nearly 50 years. Professionally and personally, I believe the sexual orientation of an auditioner or contestant is irrelevant. All that said, the fact that I have unintentionally upset people is distressing to me and it is obvious I have made mistakes that I must learn from. I trust that my humor will be more sensitive and mindful moving forward.”
Said GLAAD President Neil Giuliano: “We certainly appreciate the dialogue, and the opportunity for Nigel to help further educate people about how words and images matter. His sincere words are appreciated, and we look forward to words, images and representations of the LGBT community on So You Think You Can Dance that will be fair, accurate and inclusive in the future.”