May 23, 2009 – On May 22, GLAAD released a Call to Action in response to remarks made the night before by judge Nigel Lythgoe on the popular reality competition show So You Think You Can Dance. Today, GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano and Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson spoke with Mr. Lythgoe. He expressed his apology over his misuse of words and released this official statement:
“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.”
Nigel Lythgoe, judge and executive producer, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE
“We certainly appreciate the dialogue, and the opportunity for Nigel to help further educate people about how words and images matter,” said Giuliano. “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.”
TAKE ACTION: Call on Fox Entertainment and
So You Think You Can Dance Judge to Apologize
for Homophobic Remarks
Director of National News
Director of Communications
May 22, 2009 – On the May 21 season premiere of Fox’s popular reality competition show So You Think You Can Dance, aspiring competitors Misha Belfer and Mitchel Kibel performed a samba for the judges at the program’s Denver auditions. Though the judges did offer some praise to the men, judge Nigel Lythgoe -- in his on-air and online criticisms of their performance -- made snide, and ultimately homophobic, comments about the routine that have led to calls for an apology to both the dancers and to the LGBT community.
During the telecast, Lythgoe said: “I think you probably alienate a lot of our audience. I mean, we’ve always had the guys dance together on the show, but I’ve -- they’ve never really done it in each other’s arms before.” Shortly thereafter, he added, “Do you know what? I’d like to see you both dancing with a girl.”
Lythgoe later wrote on Twitter: “The same sex ballroom guys did remind me of 'Blades of Glory.' However, I'm not a fan of 'Brokeback' Ballroom.”
"It's unacceptable for this kind of blatant homophobia to occur" said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano. "Fox Entertainment and Nigel Lythgoe owe Misha, Mitchel and the whole LGBT community an apology."
Since the incident, GLAAD has been flooded with feedback from community members concerned that last night’s comments and tweets amount to a promotion of homophobia by a top-rated network reality-show judge. After contacting Fox, a representative at So You Think You Can Dance told GLAAD they are passing along our concerns and will get back with us.
Contact Fox Entertainment today. Call on them to listen to and discuss our community’s concerns -- and call on Nigel Lythgoe to apologize for his snide, homophobic remarks.
Vice President, Fox Publicity
So You Think You can Dance
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The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org.