More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Chaz Bono Leaves Dancing with the Stars, but Still a Great Victory for Transgender Visibility
Unlike many of his competitors, Chaz Bono didn't come into Dancing With the Stars with a lifetime of training in performance or athletics behind him, but nevertheless he showed how far someone can go and improve through hard work and perseverance. What's more, Chaz allowed millions upon millions of viewers to learn a little more about him with each passing week and quickly became the world's most well-known transgender person.
It was a great fall season for transgender visibility on TV, with Chaz joining ABC's hit show at the same time that transgender model Isis King returned to the CW for America's Next Top Model: All Stars, and transgender and LGBT advocates from all over applauded the milestone. Unfortunately, a few people took issue with Chaz's inclusion, but their objections only helped to well up even more public support for Chaz's participation on the program.
The debate quickly fell by the wayside once the contest began however, and Chaz quickly impressed the judges with his determination despite also suffering from a knee injury. Even when unable to match the high scores of his professional competitors, America voted to keep him in the running. His famous mom even showed up to cheer him on just a couple weeks ago, and she sent him a loving message over Twitter tonight following his elimination.
“Chaz bravely put on his dancing shoes and became a fan favorite, showing millions of viewers that he’s like any other guy,” said GLAAD Acting President Mike Thompson. “Though it’s sad to see him go, Chaz has helped countless people better understand what it means to be transgender. He should be commended for both his courage and determination. We hope Chaz’s time on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ is just the beginning in a long line of transgender-inclusive programming across the media.”
Though Chaz is going home after tonight's elimination, he's also clearly left his mark. No other transgender person has had the opportunity to tell their story to so many people for so long a time, or to do it with such humble generosity. Whatever his next steps, chances are good that Chaz will continue the great advocacy work he has been doing for years, such as showing support for LGBT youth through both Spirit Day and GLAAD's new "Amplify Your Voice" PSA series. GLAAD congratulates Chaz on making it through six weeks of grueling competition, but more importantly thanks him for telling his story to America.
This month the United States Supreme Court will issue decisions on two cases critical to marriage equality. GLAAD is working with media outlets and couples around the country to push for marriage. Follow GLAAD for up to date news about the Supreme Court's decision at www.glaad.org/marriage