• Kristyn Burtt

When Will 'Dancing with the Stars' Have a Same-Sex Couple?


In Denmark, a same-sex couple won Dancing with the Stars. Not only did they win, but they were the front runners throughout most of the competition. Gay actor and comedian Jakob Fauerby was paired with pro Silas Holst and the duo was proud to be making history — win or lose.


“We’re just one couple out of 160 in 16 years,” he said to the Danish site, BK. “So for me, if a young boy, boy, girl, or trans person has the opportunity to see that positive representation as part of a TV show, that is empowering in itself.”


The National Dance Council of America has changed up the rules of ballroom this year that a couple is defined "as a leader and follower without regard to the sex or gender of the dancer." So it's time to ask the question: When is Dancing with the Stars in the U.S. going to do the same?


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It's something that the producers did consider in Season 28, as revealed in our Dance Dish Patreon podcast this summer. They even had a particular dancer in mind, but they were not available for the fall cycle of the show. Will the show circle back on this idea and make it happen if Season 29 is picked up?


The idea is not a new one in the DWTS franchise, Israel was the first country to feature a female duo back in 2010. Pro Dorit Milman was partnered with sportscaster Gili Shem-Tov and even then, they broke down the partnership to lead and follow.


“The leader and the follower — we change all the time,” said Milman to Access Online. “One time I lead her and one time she leads me. But we continue to court.”


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Italy followed suit in 2018 with a male couple making it to the finals and fans cheered on Courtney Act and pro Joshua Keefe as they took second place on Dancing with The Stars Australia earlier this year — although many viewers still think they should have won.


Many countries are starting to do a better job of representation within the DWTS franchise, so that puts a glaring spotlight on DWTS and Strictly Come Dancing. Both shows have treaded lightly in this area, but they haven't completely leaped.

In Season 22, Jodie Sweetin, Nyle DiMarco, Peta Murgatroyd and Keo Motsepe performed the first same-sex dance on the show for the Judges' Team-Up Challenge. Even though the partner switch was only a brief part of the dance, history was still made within the Argentine tango choreography. That season took place in 2016, and as 2020 looms around the corner, DWTS in the U.S. still hasn't made the move to make it a part of a full season.


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On Strictly this season, pros Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima danced together during a performance by the singer Emeli Sandé. As a gay man, Radebe felt that “for the first time in my life, I feel accepted for who I am." The BBC received only 200 or so complaints about the dance, so it does signal that audiences are open to the idea and heterosexual dancers like di Prima are also willing to be paired with a same-sex partner.


We know that DWTS has been willing to cast celebrities based on the demographics of its viewers, it's why conservative contestants have done well on the show, including Sean Spicer and Bristol Palin, even if their strengths weren't on the dance floor. With this thought in mind, it could also be why producers have been reluctant to cast a same-sex couple.


However, it's time. No, it's overdue. Representation on television matters and with governing bodies in ballroom redefining what a couple means in dance... it's time for DWTS to follow their lead.

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