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Kent's Gay, Already

We interrupt this midwifery blog for a moment to discuss a socio-political issue unfolding on the Fox television network. 

This is only the third season I’ve seen So You Think You Can Dance, yet the show has easily become one of my favorites. SYTYCD is filmed in Los Angeles, but travels the country looking for dancers to participate in the contest. Each week, they learn new dances in a variety of dance styles and then the public phones in to vote for their favorite. The next night, after the voting, the bottom three “dance for their lives,” performing in their own genre and the judges make the final decision who goes home and who stays. 

You can’t be in the entertainment industry and not know a great many gay men and lesbian women. Lots of the handsome hunk movie stars are homosexuals, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever hear about it until after their deaths in some old lover’s tell-all. Being gay goes in and out of style; many shows right now have a token gay character. There are certainly periods of time when you can’t find someone gay on any of the hundreds of channels. (Except for Logo, of course!) 

It would still be illegal to have homosexual sex in many states if it weren’t for the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case that made prosecuting for sodomy illegal. Public opinion all too often lags far behind the court rulings, so homophobia remains rampant in the United States. 

But, we’re in California, where gay marriage was legal for half a second. Wouldn’t we think this part of the country might have a wider mental expanse? Apparently, not so. SYTYCD has had many gay dancers (as you’d expect). But, what is odd is the show turns a blind eye towards any homosexual inclinations. The men are groomed to be sensuous partners for sexy females… many, many of the dances involving courtship or, in plenty of cases, out and out erotic insinuations. I understand that most of the world is heterosexual, but it’s gotten to be the elephant in the room, this pretending the men aren’t gay thing. 

The worst case of this is the incredible charade is with this season’s Kent Boyd, an 18-year old from Botkins, Ohio. From his first presentation on the season opener, Kent has been being pushed towards a heterosexual fascade. Those of us watching almost fell over when host Cat Deeley asked Kent who was his perfect woman. Stunned, he croaked, “My mom?” She pressed on, “Or who?” and he obligingly answered, “Beyonce!” How much gayer can you get? 

Glad that clumsy interaction was over, it didn’t seem possible they would keep trying to het him up, but between Cat and Nigel Lithgow (the producer), Kent can’t catch a lifestyle break. 

When Kent comes out to dance with each of the vixens, comments abound about his prowess with the women or how the women will certainly be taken by him. That might be fine and dandy for voting, but is this all okay with young Kent? Is he even out of the closet yet? Is he part of this “please help keep me under the gaydar” ploy? 

What would be so wrong with letting the queers be dancing fairies? Would they get fewer votes from the drooling young female fans that seem to make calls for naked male chests? 

For those of us who live the Gay Life, the prospect of everyone being out when they are, even on tv, seems delicious. I pray they stop trying to cram sweet Kent into a mold that isn’t remotely his style.

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Reader Comments (12)

Well Barb, it's not just the shenanigans of a fox tv show. It's culturally ingrained, and will take forever to change. Or maybe never.

I live in the epicenter of being out and gay is okay, Manhattan.
Both have always been left of liberal in politics and seeing caring about the less fortunate and the helping the world..

However they are both in their 80's and when they talk about the people,it's always with the assumption getting paired off with the opposite sex.
They still do not fully get it.

My older brother is gay and out, and my parents still make reference to his partner of 35 YEARS as his "friend" . They are 56 years old, and his partner is invited to every family thing we have, just like my husband is . His partner is our family, my mother calls him to say hello, and asks him to do things for her like go shopping (he is an art director) .

Except she can not see their relationship for what it is two men who love each other and have sex . To her they continue to be "friends" .

June 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterddewi

It's really crazy that they're working so hard to het these guys up. Like, I would think most people would agree that stereotypically, any guy dancing on that show is going to be gay. I am always left wishing they would do some same sex dances, and not just the antagonistic "We're men fighting over a woman/measuring our peen!" or "We're women fighting over a man!" bs.

I had to stop mentioning the figure skating to my parents last olympics (I enjoy watching it, they're more about "real" sports), especially to my dad, because there was always a chuckle and some remark about how the men are so gaaaaayyyyy, teehee. Like, really? Are we still not over that? Oy.

June 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStassja

One thing I don't get is why people are so fixated on someone's sexuality. If he's gay, fine. Whatever. If he's not - but maybe acts like he is, to some people - then what? I think they're more in denial that he might not be than he's in denial for being gay, if that makes sense. It seems like if people don't fit the stereotype then culturally, we can't handle it.

I hate the term 'homophobia.' It means a dislike or fear of homosexual people. I don't fear them. Nor do I dislike them as people. Because people dislike, or disagree with, homosexuality, (not homosexuals, but the act of homosexuality) that makes *them* wrong. Never mind if there are other things that we disagree on - it's all about tolerance and diversity, right? But if you dare say you're against homosexuality, that makes you hateful, somehow.

If Kent were, say, a heterosexual virgin - someone who is young, careful about who he has relationships with and is looking for just the right person - people would find him at fault for that, too. Because to most people, that's unnatural. So if you're *not* having sex, then they think you're gay too, whether you really are or not.

Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me!

June 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCMH

Anyone who doesn't see that Kent is gay is totally clueless.

Frankly I don't care who's gay but I guess I do like male dancers to be masculine. I'll haver to think about why that is....my bestie (who is gay) should have an interesting discussion :)

BTW - Love love love SYTYCD!!!! Been watching season 2 :)

June 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCiarin

I LOVE this show, though I haven't caught it this year yet. I've often wondered how it would go if the situation were reversed, where a gay dancer danced with a same sex but straight dance partner, and the dance expressed something about gay lovers. Sadly, I think the show would lose a boat load of fans, and it would be a shock and scandal that some straight dancer was "made" to dance in character as "gay", and he or she would be interviewed all over the place with folks asking, "OMG, like how was it dancing with a gay person pretending you were GAY!!!!" I just know this is how it would go down.

The other day my daughters (18 and 11) and I were watching RENT, which is full of all kinds of different pairings of people of varying sexuality and gender, and what they seemed to notice was not so much that it was 2 girls or a gay man and his transexual lover singing love songs to each other, but that they made neat couples. I felt very happy hearing my daughter say, "Are they not so AMAZING together as a couple?" I wish these kinds of reactions were much more normal in society as a whole, as these relationships ARE normal...they're just different from the accepted standard of normal. There is still a looong way to go.

I just have to say that I hate that they try to make the dancers more masculine. I really like the way Kent acts and looks. He has my vote.

July 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEllo

I don't know--sis God get it wrong? Were we to take two parts of the body for which their purpose was created and use them for sexual gratification? Give me an answer, I want to know.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranne tuminella

Third time's the charm, "Anne?"

Well, if one *believed* in a god, I suppose you might have some nit-picking to do, but if one does *not* believe in a god, then your argument is a wasted one.

And, you are going to sit there and tell me that a penis and a vagina have ZERO use but to procreate, enjoyment be damned, and if you aren't procreating/are old/are infertile/etc. then you don't get to even *think* about your genitals anymore? Is *that* what you're saying?

Sounds pretty dumb, doesn't it. So is your comment. Go masturbate again and then tell me what your God intended genitals for.

Is that answer good enough?

August 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Barbara, I can't claim to be knowledgeable about all things lesbian/gay, so forgive and enlighten me if I put my foot in my mouth. That said, my understanding of SYTYCD is that it challenges young dancers to stretch beyond their own genre and become competent in a variety of dance forms, invites choreographers to set very short pieces on these dancers (sometimes paired with "Allstar" alumni of the show) and that the whole advances the careers of both dancers and choreographers by exposing them to a large and enthusiastic television audience. The show provides viewers with a window into the world of dance without making the commitment to an evening at a theatre, and blends the excitement of a contest with an opportunity to watch gifted dancers learn and grow.

So, if part of the purpose of the show is to train, encourage and develop dancers for professional careers, I would expect that they would get hired to dance, among other things, whatever has been choreographed: both new and more traditional work. Therefore, sexual orientation notwithstanding, they would need to be competent in playing the roles required of them. If anyone might hold some responsibility for asking gay dancers to play exclusively heterosexual roles in their dances it should perhaps be the choreographers--I don't remember seeing any routine that involved a romantic encounter between two dancers of the same sex, whether gay or straight. If I were a producer hiring dancers for a show I would certainly be looking for the capacity to act as well as dance, and that might include a gay dancer playing the role of a heterosexual member of a couple. I would not be thinking about hiring a gay dancer, I would be thinking about hiring a versatile dancer. On SYTYCD I see straight male dancers playing both macho and tender roles, and female dancers dancing parallel to male dancers (e.g., in hip hop) rather than traditional pair roles. So why would I not expect the same versatility in gay dancers? "Dancing fairies" would be fun, but not every week!

We have certainly been seeing more two-guy routines this season, but as I said before, if the responsibility lies anywhere, shouldn't it be with the choreographers in daring to create stories about gay characters/couples?

That said, I can't disagree with you about the tactlessness of the judges, and on the other hand, I *want* the dancers to be convincing actors in the roles they are assigned in their routines. If the piece calls for a dancer to be a take-charge male (as in some ballroom styles) that's what I want to see, regardless of that dancer's sexual orientation. If gay dancers are only given gay roles, they are as limited as a hip hop dancer never stretching to ballroom or contemporary and the show would not be accomplishing its goal of launching versatile and gifted dancers into their careers.

If I'm missing the point, Barbara, please forgive and educate me. I know that progress is never as fast as we would like (or legalizing gay marriage would have been a long-ago-accomplished no-brainer!),and homophobia sucks, but I see slow-but-steady progress (having lived as long as I have). Maybe you should get together with one of the choreographers and help them create a "dancing fairies" routine?

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

You are absolutely right, on all counts (Wasn't what the piece was about, but you were dead on, anyway!)

I believe it is a mobius strip of whose "fault" it is there are no gay dance routines. Society would squick = choreographers would not get hired = some dancers would balk = directors would be clueless how to 1. get the dancers to do the routine 2. not make a parody of a homosexual dance routine = the audience doesn't want to see it = etc.

Even I, a lesbian, was stunned at some of the moves in the male dance routines. Look! It took SEVEN SEASONS to have the first same sex routines!

The men and women definitely must act as well as dance, must "be" what the role requires. In dance, it is a rare routine/play/show that a gay/lesbian dancer would be able to play the parallel role of their lives; the overwhelming majority of a gay dancer's life is in solo or heterosexual roles. Blessedly, once the acting dancing pro gets to Broadway, the options blossom and the writers of *those* shows explore the spectrum of society, gay, straight, bi, transgender, etc. -in ways small town USA shows cannot/choose not to.

Great thoughts you brought out in me, Claire! As always.

We could probably go on and on. :)

August 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Kent is absolutely 100% not gay!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and by the way, when cat asked him who the perfect women for him would be, he answered someone who is like my mom. not my mom. and the kiss he had with lauren was also not choreographed. i met all the season 7 dancers at two of the tours and i asked adecheke and he said no it wasn't choreographed. . no one cares if any of the sytycd dancers are gay or not. not all of them were gay this season, robert jose kent and adecheke are not gay at all. please do not post anything like this unless you know that it is true.

November 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMrsKentBoyd44

And, Mrs.KentBoyd44, *you* cannot say he is NOT gay unless YOU know that it is true. So, we're both expressing opinion; mine is the opposite of yours... each of them equally valid.

As a lesbian who was married to a man and had 3 kids before coming out for good, just because someone says they aren't gay, especially to a total stranger, doesn't mean they are telling YOU the truth. Sometimes, it takes YEARS to be able to say "I'm gay" in public. Look at all the American Idol late bloomers.

Anyway, thanks for your backstage glimpse; it is cool hearing from you even if we disagree!

November 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

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