Chaz Bono’s lengthy and somewhat controversial run on Dancing With The Stars has ended, but there remains a question over whether Bono was subject to a bit of discrimination on his way out of the reality dancing competition.
Initially, the show was welcoming of Bono and even took a stand when some “advocacy” groups expressed outrage at Cher’s son’s inclusion merely due to his status as a post gender reassignment male. Partner and dance star Lacey Schwimmer has vocally supported Bono and defended him against detractors throughout their run, quite touchingly.
Some of the remarks that riled Team Chaz came from judge Bruno Tonioli, who compared Bono to a penguin, saying:
“It was like watching a cute little penguin try to be a big, menacing bird of prey… It has to be menacing, dark, dangerous, hypnotic … like a panther stalking.”
Schwimmer later fumed:
“They called [Chaz] an animal…We are both anti-bullying. And having the judges refer to him as animals or diss his personality, it’s unnecessary. It’s rude and it’s going back on everything that people are trying to fix.”
She also became teary after the comments and added:
“Every week he gets referred to as an animal,” she said. “They always comment on his personality, and last I checked, this was a dancing show.”
Chaz, who has seemingly deflected most of the heat that comes his way quietly but firmly, commented:
“I’ve been called an Ewok, a cute and cuddly bear, now tonight a penguin. It’s disrespectful to me.”
Prior to Bono and Schwimmer, Carson Kressley, Chynna Phillips, Kristin Cavallari, Elisabetta Canalis and Ron Artest were eliminated from the show.