September 17, 2009, New York, NY – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today commended FOX on the inclusion of same-sex dance couple Jacob Jason and Willem De Vries on the September 16, 2009 episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.” It was also announced today that openly gay director and choreographer Adam Shankman will become a permanent judge on the show beginning October 27.
This follows a GLAAD Call to Action issued on May 22 over comments made by judge Nigel Lythgoe in reaction to another same-sex pairing. GLAAD staff then met with FOX and Lythgoe to educate and advocate for fair, accurate and inclusive LGBT images. FOX officials said that the creative team behind the top ten rated show learned from this outreach and screened the new episode for GLAAD prior to its broadcast.
“Joining concerned citizens across America, GLAAD spoke out critically against the hurtful and stereotyping remarks on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and are delighted to see that these education and advocacy efforts resonated with the show’s producers and judges,” said Jarrett Barrios, GLAAD President. “The treatment of Jacob and Willem this evening, along with the addition of Adam Shankman, gives America a bold example of how to treat gay people with the same respect and fairness as anyone else. That’s what America’s all about.”
During their segment, dancers Jacob and Willem discuss wanting to audition despite what previously happened with a same-sex dance pair to illustrate that there is "a world of same-sex dancers." Their routine nearly brought judges Mary Murphy and Mia Michaels to tears.
The judges had positive reviews following the routine:
Mary Murphy: “I can understand why you’re welling up. I have to say that I’m just really proud of you two. And that showed all the emotion and passion in a strong way. It had great lines, great technique. Well done. I’m really proud of the two of you. “
Mia Michaels: “All I know is that I celebrate the courage that you guys have to just expose yourselves and your hearts and passion and who you are.”
Nigel Lythgoe: “Thank you for showing me that same sex ballroom dancing can be very strong and very good.”
“It is so important that the millions of everyday Americans viewing the show now have the opportunity to see couples like Jacob and Willem,” said Barrios. “Images like this build understanding and acceptance of our community and will inspire young LGBT dancers everywhere.”
The May 22 Call to Action was issued when aspiring competitors Misha Belfer and Mitchel Kibel performed a samba for the judges. Though the judges did offer some praise to the men, Lythgoe -- in his on-air and online criticisms of their performance -- made snide, and ultimately homophobic, comments about the routine.
To view Lythgoe’s original comments please visit: http://www.glaad.org/Page.aspx?pid=680.
Following calls and e-mails from concerned viewers and the meeting with GLAAD, Lythgoe issued an apology for his poor word choices and comments.
“We look forward to continuing to see words, images and representations of the LGBT community on “So You Think You Can Dance” and all FOX programs that are fair, accurate and LGBT inclusive,” said Barrios.