Chaz Bono, left, and Lacey Schwimmer practice dance steps while rehearsing for the upcoming season of "Dancing of the Stars" in Los Angeles.
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Chaz Bono is dancing right past the controversy surrounding his casting on Dancing With the Stars — which began a new season Monday night — and he’s not even the dancing type.
“I like it, but I’m kind of an introvert,” he said from the nondescript dance studio where he has been rehearsing for the hit ABC show for up to five hours a day. “My natural tendency is to go in, not show off. I get embarrassed really easily, which is something you have to get over on this show.”
Of the 11 celebrities on the show, Bono may be the most controversial: As the show’s first transgender contestant, the 42-year-old author and activist has been the subject of hateful blog posts by some viewers and conservative media groups. Some have even called for a Dancing boycott.
But other groups, such as the Transgender Law Center and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, have lauded his casting and urged their members to support Bono’s appearance on the show.
Meanwhile, he and professional partner Lacey Schwimmer are too focused on their cha-cha to listen to all the chatter and they’re confident that once the show begins, the controversy will fade as quickly as its requisite spray tans.
“I just hope people understand that he’s just like everybody else and he’s here on a dancing show to shake his groove thing,” said Schwimmer, Bono’s instructor and partner.