News

Hey, Perez Hilton? The Reason You Won't Sign Your Son Up for Dance Class Makes No Sense

"I don't want to enroll my son in dance class because I'm scared/worried/convinced it will make him gay." We've all heard some variation on this one, right?

Someone we'd never expect to hear it from: television personality and Hollywood gossip columnist Perez Hilton.

Wait, you might be saying. Isn't he gay? Yes. Which makes this whole thing even weirder.

On a recent episode of his podcast, Hilton stirred controversy by stating that he would prefer his five-year-old son to be straight, and therefore would not be enrolling him in dance classes, because in his experience, the majority of men attracted to dance and dance-related professions are gay. He did so while emphasizing that he believes himself to have been born gay.

He posted a YouTube video on Sunday to clarify his statements. But if anything, Hilton has only dug himself a deeper hole.


Let's break this down, shall we?

Whether or not you agree with his statement that he would prefer if his son grew up to be a straight man, his logic does track: Members of the LGBTQ+ community do face difficulties that their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts do not. Not wanting your child to have to face harassment and discrimination over their gender identity or sexual orientation is an understandable sentiment.

We start running into issues when he begins using this as a reason to not enroll his son in dance class.

Are there gay men in dance? Yes. Did dancing make them that way? No.

Sexual orientation is already determined at birth—a statement with which Hilton clearly agrees. Therefore, whether or not a child is enrolled in an activity which stereotypically attracts homosexual men should have no impact on that child's sexual orientation. To state otherwise is a flabbergasting bit of mental gymnastics that only serves to reinforce stigmas around LGBTQ+ communities and tired, frustrating stereotypes about men who dance.

There are gay and straight men (and women!) in dance, as well as individuals who are bisexual, asexual, gender nonconforming, transgender...I could go on, but the point is that their identities are not a result of their dancing.

Enrolling your child in dance class will not make them gay. What it will make them is a person equipped with problem-solving skills, grit, discipline, resilience, the ability to grow from mistakes and so many other traits whose benefits stretch beyond the studio.

But here's one more: empathy. I think we can all agree that it's something the world can use more of, especially if we want to see less discrimination and harassment over people's identities.

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.