1. Nobody asked for my LGBT opinion...BUT...

As one who has always had opinions on most topics and likewise has never felt comfortable keeping them to myself, I have decided to include one of my favorite ("and most opinionated") sections of the "Lambda DanceSport News" as a separate page on this website entitled "Nobody asked for my LGBT opinion...BUT..." and so express my sometimes twisted opinions around the world. I can do that in America... The first few articles are out and I'd LLOOOVVVE to have YOUR opinion...I might even post it on the following section that I call ....Nobody asked for their opinions either...BUT...

A . "Discrimination Within the LGBT Community"...Regretably it's becoming even more prevalent than ever within our own very limited Washington DC LGBT "Dance" community.
I've often said that for a group of people who are always so concerned about beng discriminated against, as a community, we certainly do our own fair share of discriminating against each other...

B. The world-wide war on drugs...as much as we hate to admit the real truth, the fault and the problem belongs to no one but "US" (U.S.)....

C. To Teach Well or Not To Teach well...That is the Question...(A three-part article by Terry "Shakespeare" Chasteen and published in the bi-monthly American Ballroom Dancers' Association Magazine in 2002).

D. "Same-sex couples" vs. "Same-gender couples"...are we promoting our image or detracting from it?...

E. In the Ballroom, a Redefinition of 'Couple' A July 14th article in the NewYork Times on competitive Ballroom dancing written after the succesful performance of U. S. Latin Male Champions during the 2004 MIT Open Ballroom Dance Competition on April 24th & 25th.

F. In response to The London Times debate: "Is this simply not Ballroom Dancing?", which is the debate question after the London Time's follow-up on the New York Times article, 'A Redifinition of 'Couple'. The London Times article is entitled 'It takes two to tango, but does it step on anyone's toes if both are men?'. Which ended in the previous debate question. Send your e-mails to debate@thetimes.co.uk. The link to read this London Times online article is http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-3-1181592,00.html and requires a registration fee to log in.

G. Effective grass roots gay activism...not in the courts; not at the end of a picket sign, but rather "Out on the Dance Floor"! I've experienced the phenomenon of Gay Dancing as a same-gender couple in the non-LGBT dance world on numerous occasions and you'd be amazed at the response.

H. Grass Roots Gay Activism...are we missing the boat?

I. Finding that perfect dance partner, whether for competition or just fun social dancing...

J. In response to "Ballroom Dancing Is Not a Sport"
(So why is it in the Gay Games?)"
By Jonathan M. Bell For Outsports.com

K. The Reverend Ted Haggard...don't forgive him - accept him for what he is.....

L. "Who's blaming whom for the problems of the 'Games'?"

M. Religion and government...why they don't mix ...not because of atheism; because of attempted bigotry.

N. A tribute to Steve Irwin:

O. Re: An email from Mein.

P. Terry Chasteen's bio

Q. Black History Month, 2007, featuring my favorites of any race...the incredible Nicholas Brothers and Frankie Manning.

R. ...Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

If you're not a Harry Potter/Daniel Radcliffe fan , this link at www.Playbill.com may definitely change your mind....

...But then that's just my opinion....

S.
...And once again a public figure, John Amaechi, has come out in a new book; this time in the NBA and accompanied by a barage of insults.

T. The discriminatory remarks by the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace are not only unquestionably inappropriate but also damaging to the morale and productivity of the thousands of gay and lesbian service members who are both presently in or are planning to join the armed forces....

U. A Sharp Drop in Gays Discharged From Military Tied to War Need
By Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post Staff Writer

The number of homosexuals discharged from the U.S. military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy dropped significantly in 2006, according to Pentagon figures released yesterday -- continuing a sharp decline since the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts began and leading critics to charge that the military is retaining gay men and lesbians because it needs them in a time of war.


V.
A salute to the Tuskegee Air Men...even though it's 6 decades too late....

 

W. July 4th, 2007...WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE...FOR ALL?...

X. Dance partner search...sorry I can't be more helpful but "If it is to be, it is up to thee". We all have to make ourselves look worth someone's efforts to train with us.

Y. (1) It's All Because (The Gays Are Getting Married) (1) http://youtube.com/watch?v=rixkck8QnjY


2. Also,...Nobody asked for their opinions either...BUT...

A. A complement from The Netherlands...

B. A complement from DC...

C. A complement from Florida

D. A complement from the Miss Adams Morgan Pageant...

E. Quotes regarding discrimination by John F. Kennedy

F. Certain black clergy belive that some discrimination is acceptable...and if the KKK were against gay marraige, they'd ride with them?!...how soon some of us forget...

G. 'We could dance together at gay bars, but taking lessons? Ballroom lessons? Impossible'.

H. Gay Ballroom Dancing on ABC TV

I. Ballroom Dancing Swings Back into Style - By Jack Nichols

J. Dutch Equal Rights Committee ruling:
Homosexual and lesbian couples should be allowed to compete in regular dance contests

K. Dutch Equal Rights Committee Ruling Condensed Press release:
Homosexual and lesbian couples should be allowed to compete in regular dance contests

L. An observation by Christopher Reeve concerning some of the able-blebodied shortly before his untimely death regarding his impatience with some of us who are able-bodied...

M. The MIRAMAX synopsis of "Shall We Dance?".


N.
For an array of interesting opinions on numerous important LGBT topics, visit the site of Wayne Besen - Author, Activist, Columnist, Public Speaker.

O. A disgusting creation from one of my readers, which I don't at all agree with, mind you, but am displaying it here to show how heartless some people can be (...thanks, Ralph!...).

P. Homosexuals -- Are they the ones who are destroying the institution of marriage?


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A. My honest opinion is that there has always been much too much discrimination within our own LGBT Community...and regretably it is becoming even more prevalent than ever within our even more limited LGBT "dance" community, both in Metropolitan Washington DC and in other specific cities such as San Francisco and London, to name a few.
This article has been temporarily retracted simply because it cut to the chase (something which I have never been reluctant about doing....and which I have to admit isn't always the best way to "Make Friends and Influence people". But then I'm not vyimg for any popularity contest and I never have, nor ever will I, aspire to becoming a true politician since I won't resist calling a spade a spade as opposed to dancing around the honest facts. And if people are offended, so be it. Mybe it will cause them to eventually look within themselves and realize how fair or unfair they are being toward others). MY OPINION on this topic has in some cases offended some in America's LGBT dance community, possibly alienating them from the much more important goal of encouraging as many of us as is humanly possible to attend the DanceSport competitions of Gay Games and World Outgames, 2006. That is over now, so with some editing the article is coming back along with some additions after some of what I've heard has gone on in the meantime.It is bad enough when we spend most of our LGBT lives being discriminated against and having to struggle against it, but it is worse yet when that discrimination comes from right within our own community. Please stay tuned and check back.....

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B. The world-wide war on drugs...as much as we hate to admit the real truth, the fault and the problem belongs to no one but "US" (U.S.)....

Nobody asked for My Opinion...BUT...

Benjamin Arellano Felix, Mexico’s most ruthless of drug king pins claims after being incarcerated that the drug war is the problem of US (U.S.)......"Helllloooo, America!!....How long is it going to take for us (U.S.) to acknowledge the obvious?!!!

Do we really need the ruthless leader of a drug cartel to tell us something that we have known for years, but that we refuse to admit?

As my good friend, Dr Phil McGraw would say, "You cannot solve a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it". That is exactly why we have failed miserably and will continue to fail in this drug war, because WE (U.S.) refuse to acknowledge that the drug problem is OURS; Not Columbia’s or Mexico’s or Chili’s or the problems of any of the other poor little 3rd world countries that we try to justify running around blaming for this debilitating problem. “WE” (U.S.) are solely responsible for the drug problem, as is England, France, Germany and every other so- called "DEVELOPED" country on earth. Every country whose residents continue to dump billions and billions of dollars into the drug trade while we do little more than slap the purchasers, who are the real violators, on the wrist.

Do we think that the endless lines of automobiles attempting to bring drugs into this country every single day would bother to do so at the high risk of being caught if we weren't buying them for a LOT of money? And do we think that Americans would continue to spend the billions upon billions of dollars on drugs if we had laws that have some real teeth in them? If we would fine drug-users of “ALL” types; not just those who are penniless addicts on the street, who are using street quality "crack" cocaine and not just the "non-white-collar" users but instead “ALL” users and dealers, and especially those in high places with the high-paying jobs, Mercedes and million-dollar homes. And we need to penalize them so heavily that they would quickly be out on the street and at the bottom of the financial barrel years before they have a chance to squander everything they own to the foreign drug industry? These are the people who are supporting the drug trade in a big, big way and these are the ones who more often than not getting away with it. I'm confident that if the approach was changed, the end of the story would be a whole lot different.

As it is, after our American users have re-enforced the drug producers by giving them everything they own, WE (U.S.) have to spend our tax dollars to feed and house and support them and their rehabilitation for decades later. This is truly Bass Ackwards (at least in my opinion). I personally am tired of everyone running around feeling sorry for the Robert Downey, Jrs, the Winona Ryders, the Adam Rich’s, the Whitney Houstons and the Bobby Browns for their drug problems as they and thousands of Americans like them all over this country continue to pour billions and billions of dollars into the pockets of those who we're supposedly trying to combat, while at the same time, very little is done in this country to stop the users years in advance of their final plummet into submission. Submission which comes only after they’ve finally reached the bottom of the barrel in their individual lives. And that bottom of the barrel is usually highly associated with reaching the bottom of the financial barrel. With more money available where that came from there's little reason to bite the bullet and make any kind of change.

It's a known fact that addicts have to individually WANT to kick the habit before any proposed treatment is ever going to be effective. And what more often than not makes them WANT to kick the habit is being at the bottom of their existence before that desire ever kicks in. I can't think of anything that would speed that process up more than their being made dirt poor, nearly out on the streets years before it would happen naturally under today’s laws and circumstances.

If the possession laws were made to be serious and if the courts would take a major portion of everything a drug-user owns every time they're caught (except for maybe the first-time offenders) we might have something left over after all is said and done to support and rehabilitate them once they hit rock bottom. Instead we let them send most of the money from everything they've ever owned; from selling their swimming pools and Mercedes and million dollar homes right into the hands of the drug dealers after which we (the tax payers) have to come up with more money to fight those same drug lords. This all happens as we eventually spend still even MORE money for the users' rehabilitation and care. Is it any wonder why we haven't made and never will make any progress concerning this problem?

I guarantee there would be a lot of us (U.S.) who would think twice about our actions if we might be stripped of much of what we own upon conviction of drug possession and use. And if we didn't change our ways, at least the government could use what used to be our belongings to pay for the ultimate drug treatment and room & board down the road before they have a chance to dump it into the hands of the drug lords.

But then that would be politically incorrect and much more demanding of us (U.S.) than the present practice of standing by and watching millions of dollars being spent and millions of pounds of drugs being brought into this country every year while we blame those who produce them instead of those are really responsible. Namely us (U.S.) who buy and use them. It's easier to spend billions and billions of dollars running around fighting the Columbians and Brazilians and Mexicans as opposed to leaving that money right here in this country and using it to crack down on the real culprits, namely us (U.S.), for our involvement in what could easily someday destroy this wonderful country of ours. For politicians to get serious in this dilemma, for instance, they may have to confront the possibility that many of those drug users vote....in which case it may be better to think of someone else to blame than to possibly alienate part of their own voting constituency.

Another problem in America is that too many of us (in the U.S.) would be determining the fate of too many of us (in the U.S.) whom we know to be drug-users and who we don't have the intestinal fortitude (in other words, the guts) to address the problem to. It's so much easier to just keep spending the tax money and keeping the drug wars "Over there" so we won't have to face the real problem head-on. We'll supply the money and let the Columbian drug squads get shot and killed over the problem. That way our little once-in-awhile use of drugs or those of our cocaine-sniffing friends can go unnoticed and we (U.S.) can live happily-ever-after. Regardless of the fact that every ounce purchased by us (U.S.) and our drug-using friends continues to fill the coffers of "those who are supposedly to blame"...Which is certainly not US (U.S.)!

To be honest, we really don't have to be users to be susceptible to blame. We're just as guilty when we sit on our hands and know friends and relatives who openly use drugs in front of us as we look the other way, instead of doing what SHOULD be done. Namely, making it instantly known that we either expect such actions to stop and they will get help or the authorities will be involved much sooner than anyone ever thought possible. That is referred to as "Tough Love", and sometimes it has to be shown, regardless of how difficult it might be. How many of us have sat and heard people bragging about how high they got on cocaine the other night, only to look the other way and ignore the remark. Or worse yet, laugh at their actions as though it was cool and totally acceptable even when we feel undoubtedly that it is wrong? I guarantee you...none of those who really know me personally and my feelings on this matter ever gloats about drug use in my presence. And if they ever do, it only happens once. I'm not bragging about that, it's just a fact. I have never been shy about offering my opinion on such matters. Especially when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my opinion is right, fair and just. And that such actions will eventually be devastating to the well-being of all of us in this country. I wish more people in America, including and especially our politicians, would accept such a responsibility on a much more regular basis.

I know what you're thinking..."It's really none of your business. We don't have the right to depict to other people what they can and cannot do".......wrong!... We "DO" have the right "AND" the responsibility to show our disapproval. Especially when it involves people breaking the laws and doing what we know will accomplish the eventual demise of this magnificent country that we are so fortunate to live in. A demise which is imminent if such a this problem continues at the rate that it now is. If someone is committing pedophilia or extortion or domestic abuse, we DO have the responsibility to do something about it. If not, we're just as guilty as the perpetrators. Drug use is no different.

Sooner or later each one of us is going to have to take more responsibility and demonstrate some effort in the rampant problem of drug use in this country before it's too late. But if we aren't going to accept that responsibility then we need to at least quit sending all of the money that we send to other countries and quit pretending like it's ever going to do anyone but the hard-core drug world any good. Because it isn't going to do anyone else any good until we get our heads out of......the sand.

The sad truth is that too much of that anti-drug money ends up in the hands of corrupt politicians in the receiving countries who play the anti-drug role, but who are just as involved in the incredibly lucrative drug trade as those on the street. (Again...incredibly lucrative only because of us [U.S.]).

In her book "Until Death do us Part" Once Columbian Senator and Presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt was living in fear and constant danger because she persisted in revealing that too many in the Columbian government were also involved in the drug trade; thus making it impossible to prevent much of the American assistance from going right into the coffers of the enemy. In an interview with Matt Lauer much earlier this year, Mrs Betancourt openly pleaded with the U.S. to continue sending financial assistance to curtail the drug industry in Columbia. I couldn't help thinking as I sat there watching the interview how she must've been fighting within herself not to make the politically incorrect, but obvious plea "And just as importantly, could you please take some responsibility in this country to stop the damned selfish American drug use that is destroying many of the less fortunate countries on this earth?". That would have truly alienated those whose assistance she was begging for, but at the same time would have hit the nail of reality right on the head.

Let's face it; there's so much money in this (thanks to who?...us...U.S., no less) that in these countries, you're either going to be involved "or else". Contracts are easy to take out on people in Columbia and Brazil and Mexico when you have that much money and power. Contracts which they often did take out on Ingrid Betancourt quite often. The courageous woman actually sent her children to New Zealand with her husband’s family to prevent their possible assassination over 6 years ago because of her constantly exposing the corrupt Columbian government in it's involvement in the drug trade. And once again, so that we don't forget, whose fault is that?...The real fault that they have all of that money and power belongs to no one but the ones who buy the drugs in the first place. Not those who produce the drugs, but the ones who buy them....us (U.S.).

All of those poppy fields in Columbia and Brazil used to be family farms once upon a time; raising grain and chickens and pigs and milk for family use. No longer...thanks to us (U.S.). Family farmers can no longer afford to keep such property even if they did want to farm it because the drug cartels can make so much more money in the drug trade. And once again, whose fault is that? Not the once-upon-a-time family farmers whose land was stripped from them; not the general population of Columbia, many of whom are all but destitute and couldn't afford to buy drugs even if they wanted to. No the blame for all of this belongs to no one but us (U.S.). But those in control in this country continue to point the finger to everyone else in other countries all over the world while we continue to completely shirk our responsibilities in dealing with the matter right here at home the way we should.

If we stopped pretending that everyone else is to blame for this problem and if we decided to put some teeth in our American drug laws by stripping those who are abusers until they do something about it, and keep that money here in the United States to fight the problem at its core, we would not only save enough money to be able to pay for aggressive actions against drug use in this country (once we have the guts to pass the necessary laws), as well as rehabilitation of abusers, but we could also save enough money to pay for the much needed prescription drug relief for senior citizens, social security for the next ten generations, education in ALL of our public schools, health care for the poor and any number of other programs with the incredible amount of money that we throw away on the drug wars elsewhere.

I cannot help bringing up a classic statement made by retiring Senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn) as he played the character of Arthur Branch on a "Law and Order" episode. In response to the suggestion of ending the drug wars Senator Thompson stated "Without a war on something, people wouldn't get elected". How true that is. But still we continue to fall for that same tactic by our politicians generation after generation, instead of demanding that they do what is necessary to eliminate some of these obvious problems. Which in this case are to admit that the drug war is here at home and that this is where we need to address it. Instead, however, of addressing the one real issue that may very well cause the demise of this whole country, we're too busy fighting over who can and can't get married to each other, what sexual practices they're allowed and whether the cultivation and use of amoeba-like stem cells (which are no closer to being human beings at this stage in their development than the man-in-the-moon) are more important than the hundreds and thousands of people who might ultimately be cured of their debilitating diseases from stem cell research. These are the rediculous things that we spend our time on in the courts, in spite of the fact that they're all no-brainers in the first place. This country needs to get away from the problem of certain groups and individuals trying to control everybody else and what they do in their own lives and start dealing with the real issues that we're too conveniently ignoring. Issues that require nothing less than good common sense to resolve. Those are the practices that will affect us all, over time. And they're ignoring them because it's easier to ignore them and not have to point the finger and risk making enemies of those right here at home who are often the very wealthy abusers who fill our re-election coffers (another major problem in this country which I don't even have the time to address) and give us power and keep us in office.

Again, addressing the situation is not an easy task. WE (U.S.) would have to make an honest effort to step on certain people's toes and do the things that must be done right here on our own turf to put an end to this incredible problem. Not just insisting on spending a bunch of money for what is nothing more than a front for avoiding the real situation in this country. WE (US) are the problem and WE (US) know it...and someday if it is ever going to be brought under control, WE (US) will need to face the facts and deal with them. In the meantime, we refuse to even acknowledge ourselves as the actual cause of the problem...and under such circumstances I am convinced that it will NEVER change. Again as my good friend, Dr Phil McGraw would say, "You cannot solve a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it". So far, America and all of the "developed and supposedly progressive countries" which have the money in the first place to buy these drugs, continue to do an incredible job of refusing to acknowledge the real problem of where the drug wars should be conducted.

...But then that's just my opinion...

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com

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C. To Teach Well or Not To Teach Well...That is the question...By Terry "Shakespeare" Chasteen.

(The following is a three-part article in it's entirety, written by Terry Chasteen and published in the Amateur Ballroom Dancers Magazine, The official publication of the Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association, in 2002).


Nobody asked for My Opinion...BUT...

Part I of III: Finding a Compatible Teacher

As we travel throughout this "Wonderful World of Dance", that we have all gotten ourselves so deeply involved in, one commonality that we all realize very early in the process is that we all need and require training. Training that ultimately will enable us to do the many fun and wonderful things that we have made up our minds that we want to do. This brings up the complication right from the beginning of where and from whom should we get that training.

Choosing the right teacher, for most of us who are really serious about this magnificent sport, is initially an important dilemma, just as choosing the right doctors or dentists or other professionals who affect our lives. It involves a whole lot more than just reading a list of accomplishments in an ad or seeing someone perform in a competition or exhibition. The doctor who may have graduated summa cum laude may not necessarily be the compassionate, empathetic person who is going to take the necessary measures to listen to and understand our medical needs. Likewise, the accomplished performers may know how to perform, but may not have the knowledge or ability to project that ability to their students. You want an individual who will take the time and make the effort to really click with your individual needs. The choice of a dance coach requires that same level of attention if one really wants to continue to be inspired and motivated to continue the often hard work that dancing really is.

The positive motivations that a person has to teach dance (or to teach anything for that matter) is often an important consideration in how good a coach really is. These motivations can be very important in choosing a teacher and likewise, such motivations can be as varied as the types of subjects that are available to be taught.

For some people, teaching is an art. These people are not much different than the artists who take a rough, insignificant lump of clay or a piece of canvas and with time and concentration are able to gradually take that rough, unbalanced, insignificant and not so extraordinary piece of dirt or canvas and mold or transform them into masterpieces with balance and timing and animation and an over-all beauty that could hardly in the slightest degree be seen in the original product. Much of this motivation is that of successful mutual achievement.

These transformations take time and concentration in relaying minute technique and styling procedures again and again. Many good teachers take great pleasure in taking brand new students who are originally very insecure and unsure of why they are even attempting this intimidating dance thing in the first place and transforming them into highly confident and passionate beings. Beings who are particularly passionate when it comes to their newly discovered talent for interpreting and responding in a brand new way to the music that they have loved for so many years.

This, in addition to witnessing the incredible increase in enjoyment of life in general for those students who have taken the dance plunge, is in itself quite a pay-back for whatever time such teachers have spent in the process. It's quite a determining factor regardless of the financial return in all cases, of whether one is a true professional in this field or one who merely teaches for the money. There are many motivations in most occupations other than instant financial gratification, which by itself is a pretty shallow means of judging someone's success or personal satisfaction in any profession.
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Next issue, Part II of III, "Other Motivations to Teach."

To Teach Well or Not To Teach Well...That is the question....by Terry Shakespeare Chasteen (A three-part article published in the bi-monthly Amateur Ballroom Dancers' Association Magazine in 2002. For issue #141 of The Amateur Ballroom Association Magazine).

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com

Part II of III: "Other Motivations to Teach."

In the last issue, the benefits and some of the positive motivations of an attentive, professionally competent teacher were discussed. However, there are other motivations for wanting to teach.

Some people just like the idea of the personal control that goes along with teaching. It's an ego trip and it gives the one in charge the opportunity to demand everyone's attention, even if for only a short period of time. For some people, they just need that boost to their personal sense of well-being. We've all had them at one time or another in classes. They speak way above the necessary volume needed for anyone to hear, they talk down to everyone like they're a bunch of rowdy kids or misbehaving pets and they remind you of an out-of-control drill sergeant who has just finished 3 months of boot camp. You usually don't find such a motivation to teach in small classes, however, because small classes don't provide the sense of power and controlling people that such a motivation for bothering to teach requires.

Another all-too-common motivation for becoming a dance teacher is that it gives one a chance to "Grand-stand" and show off in a personally controlled environment at least once or twice a week. Again we've seen this phenomenon in certain dance classes. It's most obvious when you hear the statement "look at me", "look at me", "watch me" far too often during the short span of the class period. Or the teacher who not only demonstrates the material being taught (which can definitely be effective in getting the amalgamation across), but who goes way overboard demonstrating drops, aerials, lifts and other figures that are much more difficult than the present group of students are ever going to attempt for at least the next decade. Such activities may provide a short-term feeling of amazement, but they also make the brand new beginners want to run in the other direction at full speed for fear that someone will expect them to attempt such a thing if they stick around. Or worse yet, condemn them for rightfully "not" attempting it.

The above two examples are obviously not indications of a true professional in the field of teaching, but rather of someone who really has controlling, egocentric and attention-getting ulterior motives for taking on this endeavor in the first place. Consequently when we run across individuals who display such characteristics, it is probably best to keep looking.

Lastly we need to discuss one of the most important aspects of teaching and that is whether teaching is a profession or a hobby.

Far too often those who claim to have all the answers in this world of dance are not at all professional in the field, but rather have their 9 to 5 jobs elsewhere. Their car payments and living expenses are covered whether they insult or disenfranchise or offend or scare half to death those who attend their classes or not. They are often only out for the big once-a-week events that take advantage of the dance community that's already out there. They have little interest in going beyond the call of duty to make some of the less lucrative, but necessary efforts to help "create" a dance community. Such "teachers" don't realize (or care) that some students don't always want a larger more social event. They are not concerned that many brand new students are often intimidated by such an environment for awhile and need the smaller, more intimate studio environment before they would ever get involved in dancing to begin with.
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Next issue, Part III of III, "Part-time or Hobby Teachers."

To Teach Well or Not To Teach Well...That is the question....by Terry "Shakespeare" Chasteen (for issue #142 of The Amateur Ballroom Association Magazine).

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com

Part III of III: "Part-time or Hobby Teachers."

In the last issue, we considered several different motivations for anyone wanting to become a teacher in the first place, as well as some problems concerned with teaching on a part-time, non-professional basis.

Students definitely have a need for both an intimate studio environment as well as a more lively social environment, ultimately. Those teachers who have never really taught professionally, however, have a more difficult time understanding this. Again, they're all-too-often more concerned about milking the larger crowd that's already there and picking up and moving on to "greener pastures" (my farm background is beginning to show) once the original crowd becomes tired of their tactics and disappears back down to nothing.

Of those students who want the extra attention of a small class and not necessarily the larger, louder, less intimate night club environment; for many of them the objectives in all of this (believe it or not) is to actually LEARN as much as they can about their new sport before actually going out and using it in public. Such learning does not necessarily require a large number of others in the class. In fact, the smaller, more intimate classes afford those present a lot more individual attention. Individual attention which for brand new beginners can mean the difference between night and day as to whether the first experience is a positive one.

Too many of the "once-a-week wonders", however, have a hard time understanding this. Their objective, once again, is to cash in on the big social events and not necessarily to provide the optimal learning experience that is often needed to truly promote the dance industry.

Let me interject one thing, however, before I give the wrong impression. And that is that there are also a number of very good teachers out there who do make the bulk of their living outside of the teaching industry and may only teach on a part-time basis. That in itself is not necessarily an indication of the professionalism of the person involved. I, myself have been teaching since I began with the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Columbus, Ohio back in 1974 (before many of you were born, I might add) and have taught for a major part of that 28 years on a part-time basis. I feel that I have conducted myself in as much of a professional manner as I was trained for during that time.

Likewise I have also known numerous other part-time instructors who continually show a tremendous amount of professionalism and passion about this art of teaching. For this reason I don't mean to indicate that those who teach part-time necessarily conduct themselves in an unprofessional manner. Regrettably, however, some of them do (as do some of the full-timers).

Knowing and realizing the many different reasons that people teach in the first place, as well as understanding that the best "Dancers" don't necessarily make the best "Teachers" can possibly make this process of who to train with a little easier. My suggestion, more than anything else is to keep your eyes open and be aware of whose students are continually motivated and challenged in their progress. Choose the teacher who really puts out a consistently superior product.

And don't necessarily be influenced to stick to only one. Sometimes we have to try several, just as we try several doctors, to determine which one (or ones) might be right for us.

...But then that's just my opinion....

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com

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D. "Same-sex couples" vs. "Same-gender couples"...are we promoting our image or detracting from it?...

...Nobody asked for My Opinion...BUT...

Whenever I hear the media, as well as those within our own community, refer to a couple in the LGBT community as a "same-sex" couple, I can’t help but think that the use of the term "same-sex" was probably originated by (or at the very least is continually being encouraged by) the right wing zealots who would love to witness the demise of those same-sex couples about which we speak. The word gender is defined as "the fact of being a male or female, esp, as it affects a persons self-image, social relationships, etc." Sex, however, has more than one possible meaning: (1) the above definition plus (2) "sexual intercourse".

I have little doubt that the right wing-nuts are ecstatic as the latter use of "same-sex" as opposed to "same-gender" is being encouraged and promoted in describing our relationships in the media. This description continually gives the image of our community as being about nothing more than rampant, out-of-control, over-sexed beings who are more interested in "sex and sexual intercourse" than anything else. As opposed to a community composed of the loving, caring, emotional adults that many of us (notice that I said "many of us"...that doesn’t mean "ALL" of us...) are. In other words, same-gender is nothing more than a description of our physical make-up, whereas same-sex could be interpreted as alluding to the "act" of having sex. An act which our enemies love to promote wherever we’re concerned.

After all, it’s the verses from The Bible that refer to those of the same gender "having sex" out of their worship of paganism (as opposed to showing the actual love and affection for each other that we fight for on a daily basis) which they treasure reminding everyone about, over and over again (which brings to my mind...since it has come up, where are our LGBT clergy when we need them? Why have MCC, Dignity, etc, and other gay-friendly clergy not been out there over the past few years of conflict concerning Gay marriage arguing the interpretation of the Bible in OUR favor as the right wing-nuts have continued to argue against us? Even to empower the LGBT public with the gay-friendly interpretations of those verses through our press would be a plus, but we have not heard from them. Those who are experts on the Bible and such trains of thought need to inform the public, and especially those of us who are not experts on such topics of the Biblical facts in this matter. There should have been article after article available to us on a continuing basis in our gay publications refuting and contradicting the claims of the right wing. Claims that EVERYONE who has a sexual and emotional relationship with someone of the same gender is just as guilty of the sins that the pagans, idolators and heathens of the Old Testament committed in their practice of having sex with someone of the same gender either as a form of idolatry to cause a greater harvest or as rape to show their disfavor toward strangers. There is nothing stated in the Bible about these people loving and caring for each other as we are fighting for the right to do. And our gay-friendly clergy should be attempting to send these differences home on a continuing basis, thus separating our practices from those described and condemned in the Bible. We all need to be better-informed to argue our point and through the very Bible that they hold against us, defend our gay rights, gay marraige, ability to adopt, etc. The late Larry Uhrigh, former MCC DC paster and one of the best on earth always claimed that the truthful interpretation of the Bible itself, without all of the prejudice against the LGBT community that the right wing loves to glorify for the sake of their own "divide-and-conquer" power, is the best defense that we have to support our cause. Sorry...to be running off on an unrelated tangent, but this could be one of the strongest arguments that we have for our defense and a whole new topic of future discussion that really needs to be addressed).

My personal feeling is that the more we stay away from the word "SEX" where our community is concerned, the better. The religious far right can't hear enough of such an association, which helps them to align us with more than just our physical make-up and our committed relationships with each other. An association which will merely help them continue to remind the voting public of that ever present thought to be held against us. Whenever the word sex is used in describing our relationships as couples, those who despise us gain one more feather in their cap to encourage in one more way, our negative portrayal.

In essence, the use of "same-gender couples" implies nothing about the 'act' of having sex, whereas the use of "same-sex" when describing us as couples can definitely be a means of keeping that image of being "sexually overactive" that they relish in promoting, alive. This may all sound insignificant in the over-all scheme of things, but every time this combination of words is used within the massive amount of text printed each week about us, the better is the possibility of encouraging the association of our community with the sex act as opposed to our affections for each other and playing right into the hands of all of the right wing nuts out there. Such is especially true with all of the attention being given as of late to the marriage of same-gender couples.

If we spoke about a traditional couple, we wouldn't say that they're a "two-sex couple". Instead we would probably call them a 'two-gender couple' or a 'mixed-gender' couple. We don't emphasize the image of "Sex" between them, but rather their differences in gender. We should portray the same respect and positive image when we speak about partnerships within our own community. Just because the alliteration of "same-sex" might be easier to roll off the tongue, what we have to think about in the long run are the disadvantages that it's use to the masses may have when applied to male couples and female couples within the LGBT community. Those disadvantages include repeatedly reminding the straight community of what the far right loves to send home about us. Namely our continued association with having 'out-of-control, promiscuous sex' as opposed to the real reasons of love and affection for each other that we have for being together.

In fact, I have always felt the same about the term "homosexual" in it's use within our community. Again, sex is just a small part of the whole picture of the relationships between gay & lesbian couples. Anyone can have sex with anyone or any thing. But that really isn't the basis of this whole conflict, as much as the right-wingers like to portray. It's more about our "affections" for each other, which is why I would also like to eliminate the term "homosexual" in our community to be replaced by "homoaffectionate". Can you imagine the uproar that such a concept would cause? That we're actually trying to portray ourselves as "affectionate human beings" as opposed to the out-of-control "sexual addicts" that our enemies love to portray us to be?

If we begin to stay away from the use of "same-sex couples", as opposed to "same-gender couples", chances are very good that the media and mainstream America will also begin to use this much more positive and respectable portrayal of us, as well. And in addition to the widespread coverage of same-gender marraige in our community today, as a Ballroom, Latin, Country/Western and Swing dancer myself, this would also apply to the upcoming major dance contests to be held in 2006 in North America during Gay Games VII Chicago and the 1st World OUTgames Montreal. Both of which may only be entered by "same-sex" couples. (My apologies...I've just been informed by the organizers that World OutGames Montreal, 2006 has already changed their entry forms and web site to include "same-gender couples, mixed couples and male or female couples". No "same-sex couples"...sorry...AND THANKS, Montreal!) These are two contests which will get an incredible amount of media coverage over the next year (at least if certain of us have anything to say about it), and even moreso while the events are taking place. The Ballroom & Latin dancing events, from the time they were first introduced into Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998 have been and will probably continue to be one of the most sold out events during the 8 days of competition (I was there and danced in Gay Games Amsterdam, ’98. I know how hard it was for people to get tickets).

Also, in Amsterdam as we gathered for breakfast every morning, nothing dominated the TV news channels more than the Ballroom and Latin dancing events every single morning. Eventually all of the sports received coverage, but it always came back to the dancing male and female couples that were seen again and again and again. The predominantly straight viewing public in Amsterdam obviously showed more interest in this sport or they wouldn't have covered it so well. Which was not much different than the recent success of "Dancing with the Stars", that was watched by more people in America recently than any other program.

In addition, the Gay Games committee for Chicago has already worked out arrangements with Q Television, a pay cable station which will be unscrambled during the 8 day sports and cultural festival so that everyone can view the coverage whether they've paid for Q Television or not. Such broad television coverage has never been available in the history of the Gay Games. Q Television will be available in 150 markets by July of 2006 and I'm confident that from past experience, the dancing performed by same-gender couples will get more than it's fair share of face-time during Gay Games and probably for months beyond. I use the Gay Games DanceSport events as an example, simply because such events have already taken place and the results are available, as to the tremendous amount of coverage that the DanceSport events have demanded. I am perfectly confident that the 1st World Outgames Montreal, 2006 will also find the same to be true.

This all means that if we as a community begin now to change the way we describe ourselves on the dance floor in these events, as well as the way we describe ourselves in reference to marriage and our relationships as couples, the media may very well eventually follow suit. Which would be a better option than playing into the hands of those who like nothing more than to continue associating us with having and promoting sex. And if we continue to use the terminology "same-sex" as opposed to "same-gender", the media will likewise continue to do the same without considering what some of us feel to be a much more positive means of portraying ourselves in society.

As insignificant as all of this may seem, the fact is that every tiny advancement that we make at disassociating ourselves from the sex-dominated image that the right wing loves to promote for us helps us to gain just that much more success in redefining our own image in the eyes of mainstream society. We still have a lot of grass roots "politicing" to do to get the fairness that we deserve through the legal system of today. And personally, I feel that same-gender DanceSport could easily be one of THE most effective grass roots means of accomplishing that. We can go into the courts and stand in picket lines and do many other activities to help better our positions in the over-all scheme of things, but without the individual support of a majority of those who will ultimately make their way into the voting booths on these matters, all of that is in vain. The sooner we can convince mainstream America that we are about a whole lot more than rampant, out-of-control "sex", which is what many of them still believe about us (partly our fault because we spend WAY too much of our social lives out of the public and in the social 'closet' Effective grass roots gay activism...not in the courts; not at the end of a picket sign, but rather "Out on the Dance Floor"!), and what the right wing nuts continue to promote and WANT everyone to believe, the easier this struggle for equality will become.

...But then that's just my opinion...

...and I would LOVE to hear yours...

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com

It is my hope that GLAAD, The Human Rights Campaign, The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, The International Lesbian and Gay Association, Lambda Legal and literally every other LGBT organization and press around the globe will also begin to change their use of the term "same-sex couples" to "same-gender couples". A change which may hopefully influence all of the media in general to do the same over time. And additionally may remove one more feather from the caps of those who would like to keep our reputation negative in the eyes of society for their own personal gain.

(And if you find this article interesting, whether or not you agree, you'll probably also enjoy my latest...
"Effective grass roots gay activism At It's Finest"...not in the Courts or at the end of a picket sign,
but rather "Out On The Dance Floor"").

(...But once again...that's just my opinion...)

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E. In the Ballroom, a Redefinition of 'Couple'
By ERIC MARX

Published: July 14, 2004 Correction Appended

As the ballroom dancers glided in unison, mirroring each other's pulsating movements to a midtempo Latin beat, a couple in black body-hugging costumes caught the audience's attention.

Screaming "Go 201, go 201," the onlookers cheered the pair on as they whirled across the room in an athletically sensuous display of high leg kicks, grinding hip turns and pirouettes. The couple, one of 24 teams dancing in the preliminary round of a ballroom dancing contest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, captured second place in the Latin division.

Only the couple's sex — both are men — hinted at controversy. In letting the dancers, Russell Halley and Jorge Guzman, participate in the competition in April, the organizers of the M.I.T. event for the first time permitted two men to dance together at a championship level. Mr. Halley and Mr. Guzman are also pushing against limits set by the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association, which requires that a competing couple consist of a man and a woman.

The two dancers say that the rules are archaic and that they have proved that two men can dance powerfully and still be artistic. Moreover, they ask, if questions of gay identity and inclusion are being engaged in the workplace and in the bonds of marriage, then why not in professional and amateur sport?

"Did you see the people at M.I.T.?" asked Mr. Guzman, 41, a stock trader who has been dancing with Mr. Halley for three years and who both leads and follows. "They were screaming and jumping. They were happy — straight and gay people — because they understood everything that we were doing."

Competitive ballroom dancing is growing in popularity and is even being considered for inclusion as a medal sport at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Among the arguments advocates have used in pushing for its inclusion is that, like ice dancing or paired skating, dance is one of the rare sports where male and female athletes compete together and on equal terms.

For two years Mr. Guzman and Mr. Halley have competed internationally in gay ballroom dance tournaments in Europe. But such competition is virtually nonexistent in the United States, and the two dancers, who live in New York City, say they have neither the time nor the money to keep flying to competitions in Hanover, Munich and London.

"I'd like to have the opportunity to compete," said Mr. Halley, 40, who runs a talent agency that books stylists and makeup artists.

The International DanceSport Federation, which oversees competitive ballroom dancing worldwide, says that allowing all-male couples alters the fundamental nature of the sport.

"Just as the Hopak dancers do not have to start adding other ethnic groups' elements to their dances because to do so would fundamentally contradict what the dance is about, DanceSport does not have to start adding dances about some other relationship," Jim Frasier, who heads the legal commission of the Europe-based federation, wrote in an e-mail message, referring to the Ukrainian folk dance to explain why his organization has sought to restrict same-sex couples.

Citing as an example the pasodoble, a dance based on movements performed during a bullfight with the man in the central matador role, Mr. Frasier added: "It is performed by a man and woman because it is about the relationship between a man and a woman, using the metaphor of the matador and the cape to express one more aspect of the man/woman relationship."

To many Americans, ballroom is still principally a sexually expressive dance hardly associated with the athletic agility and stamina required of sport. It has failed to gain wide media exposure and sponsorship in the United States but nevertheless has increased in popularity over the past 30 years, both at the grass-roots level in communities, colleges and secondary schools and at private dance studios.

The United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association, based in Virginia, has been pivotal to that growth, notably through investment in its Youth and College Network. But many of its college groups are in open revolt against the association's interpretation of the International DanceSport Federation's ruling, although primarily because it would leave scores of women on the sidelines, unable to compete at two of the association's national competitions. (In ballroom dancing, women outnumber men three to one, according to some estimates.)

Nevertheless, many of those interviewed at the collegiate level say they see this as an equal rights issue for gay men and women: thus the invitation to Mr. Halley and Mr. Guzman.

Published: July 14, 2004 (Page 2 of 2)

"If we don't start working with our affiliates, they are going to lose all trust in U.S.A.B.D.A. and Y.C.N. and will leave the organization altogether and find another one to join or none at all," Garry Morris, the Youth and College Network coordinator, warned in October in an e-mail message to the association's secretary and president.

Mr. Morris, representing dancers on more than 300 college campuses, proposed allowing same-sex couples to participate in the more prominent nationwide competitions. The association responded by formally changing its policy to allow same-sex entries in national competitions, but only at low levels.

"We don't try to dictate to the colleges," said Archie C. Hazelwood, the association's president, noting that the group had not prohibited same-sex dancing at the regional level, where women frequently dance with other women in what are called "fun" dances.

"They have their own rules and we try to support them," Mr. Hazelwood said. "But when it comes out into the public arena, it's a different matter."

Helen Carroll, coordinator of the Homophobia in Sports Project at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, said she believed that the association's stance was colored by the International Olympic Committee's pending review of the sport.

"They've reacted strongly because they don't want anybody to think there could be gay people participating, going into a traditional sport area such as the Olympics," Ms. Carroll said.

"Unless their organization is flourishing and making so much money, they're going to fight it with every ounce of strength with the argument that it will hurt our audience, it's going to hurt marketing," Ms. Carroll added.

Mr. Hazelwood said his organization's hands were tied because of the rules of the international federation. "We have tried to be fair within the restraints imposed upon us," he said. "For our competitors to qualify to go to an international event, we have to comply with the international rules."

The Olympics might well bring endorsements, exposure and respect to a sport that is just beginning to move into mainstream acceptance, said Jack Rothweiler, president of Fred Astaire Dance of North America, the nation's second-largest independent dance studio operator.

But while ballroom dancing has become steadily more popular over the last decade, especially with younger couples and singles, Mr. Rothweiler said that he attributed the upsurge in large part to Eastern European, Scandinavian and Latin American immigrants.

Same-sex couples, he added, "could hurt the image a little in the beginning, because the ballrooming image isn't there to begin with; sometimes it's too premature."

Gary Stroick, vice president of the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association DanceSport division, said that an increase in gay participation might discourage heterosexual men from participating.

"Eventually we're looking at televising the sport and obtaining sponsorship, and there may be implications there," he said.

Still, same-sex couples might be more warmly welcomed if, for example, the governing bodies were to afford them a division separate from male-female pairs — a move Mr. Halley and Mr. Guzman say they would applaud.

"With opposite-gender couples, the females are usually half a head to a head shorter and tend to be lighter, which makes it imperative that the female is the follower," explained Benjamin Soencksen, a former professional dancer and general manager of Stepping Out Studios in Manhattan, which has long endorsed same-sex dancing.

"Yes, they're developing a different dance, and yes, the artistry is changing as well," Mr. Soencksen said.

"But the artistic expression only has to do with the viewer viewing it differently," he added. "You cannot view it with the expectations of what an opposite-gender couple would look like. It's two men dancing, and they might feel the same love and passion but will have to express it differently based on the power structure within the couple."

For Mr. Halley and Mr. Guzman, who are not romantically involved, that means changing leader-follower roles many times during a single piece of music and coming up with choreographically exciting and innovative moves that catch the attention of both audience and judges.

"Women usually do all the extensions; they're flexible," Mr. Halley said. "I happen to have a good extension, and I'll do extensions with my legs that are on par with what some of the women are doing. And that's surprising because they don't expect to see a man stretch his leg over his head and then lean out into a split.

"We did that at M.I.T. in our rumba," he said with evident satisfaction and pride. "The audience went crazy."

Correction: July 21, 2004, Wednesday

An article in The Arts last Wednesday about same-sex couples' efforts to take part in competitive ballroom dancing included an incomplete paraphrase of a comment from Gary Stroick, whose title with the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association is vice president for DanceSport. He attributed to "some people" the view that an increase in gay participation might discourage heterosexual men from taking part; he did not say it was his own view. The article also gave a misspelled surname for the chairman of the legal commission of the International DanceSport Federation. He is Jim Fraser, not Frasier.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/14/arts/dance/14DANC.html?ex=1091405092&ei=1&en=2490d1d3c117731b

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F. In response to The London Times debate: "Is this simply not Ballroom Dancing?", which is the debate question after the London Time's follow-up on the New York Times article, 'A Redifinition of 'Couple'. The London Times article is entitled 'It takes two to tango, but does it step on anyone's toes if both are men?'.
(The London Times article can be found on http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-3-1181592,00.html)

Nobody asked for My Opinion...BUT...

My personal "Opinion" to the London Times debate question: "Is this simply not Ballroom Dancing?"
It's about time that the ballroom & Latin dance community, as well as the rest of humnity realize that same-gender couples have been here for centuries and like it or not, they are here to stay. And if not welcomed to peform in the environment of two-gender couples, the only alternative will be to ultimately organize separate dance events for same-gender couples as the European dancers are already very successfull at doing. "And" as some of us here in America are committed to do, as well (and if you don't believe that, visit the web sites at www.OutCountryDance.org or www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org [GayDanceSPORT.com] and you'll see how serious about this some of us are). As one who has taught dance for the past 30 years, who has a multitude of straight dancing friends and who would love to see all of us compete and dance socially under the same roof, I realize that there are still many who will always fight anything to do with the homo-affectionate community and who will continue to raise ill feelings about such possibilities in todays comps and elsewhere. After all, some people must find some way to keep the century-old fear tactic of "Divide and Conquer" going strong in an effort to win the power struggle that they seek. Sadly people still fall for such tactics century afer century and regrettably in the end all of us lose, not just those being discriminated against (this article was written long before the 2004 US Presidential elections and as you can see was more depictive of what was about to take place than even I who wrote it could have possibly imagined at the time). But those who will lose the most will be the organizers of the present-day events which now permit only two-gender couples to compete.

I have never seen the excitement during any traditional two-gender Ballroom or Latin dance competition (and I have witnessed a LOT of two-gender dance events in my 56 years) as was witnessed by all of us during the very first International Ballroom & Latin competition of Gay Games®. That took place during Gay Games V, Amsterdam, '98 and at that event, the male and female couples routinely changed roles back and forth in both the Ballroom & Latin dances; sending the audience into orbit throughout the evening. There is no reason why such events cannot be included right along-side those of two-gender couples to maximize the enjoyment of everyone in the dance community.

But if not, there are alternatives and such alternatives will only result in loss to the event organizers from their fear of offending those who are more conservative and often more vocal about what others do with their lives. As the numbers of performing couples in some of the Ballroom & Latin dance competitions continues to decline, the addition of separate same-gender couple events during the same competition only makes common sense as the sport becomes more and more popular. Naturally they don't really belong in the same category as two-gender couples. You don't put male and female runners and weight lifters in the same arena, so why would one do the same in Ballroom dancing? Mr Halley is correct in his interview in that it's comparing apples to oranges. But until the powers-that-be realize the benefits of creating a separate division, it's all that is sometimes available, such as in the M.I.T. event, other than splitting away from the two-gender events altogether. And again in that case, everyone would lose all of the benefits of supporting Ballroom & Latin dancing as a whole.

Up until now, MIT has been the only opportunity to demonstrate the added excitement of a role-changing same-gender performance to the non-role-changing public. The success of Russell and Jorge in this 23-couple event, even with some of the judges being totally against same-gender dancing altogether is a testimony of the potential of such a format. And the competitors, even though most were defeated by the male couple, were just as enthusiastic about allowing their involvement. The Country/Western dance community routinely offers "Jack & Jack" and "Jill & Jill" events for same-gender couples and has for years. And they've done so in spite of the supposed more conservative reputations of the Country/Western dance community. In the process, these "Jack & Jack" and "Jill & Jill" events have become some of the most talked-about and popular events in the UCWDC (United Country Western Dance Council) competitions. Hopefully someday the Ballroom and Latin dance community will get away from their less open and accepting mind-set, as well.

I for one applaud Russell Halley and Jorge Guzman for their efforts, intestinal fortitude and foresight in bringing Ballroom & Latin dancing for same-gender couples into the limelight of the non-LGBT dance community for society to witness. With all of the attention that their performance has gotten at the event, which was extremely positive, as well as in the press (in addition to the publications of the New York and London articles, I have personally been interviewed to date by newspapers about to publish articles on same-gender dancing in both California and Toranto because of the spread of information about MIT), I'm convinced and delighted that we will be seeing more and more of these performing couples in the future. And if I can find the right dance partner, I will hopefully be one of them....

...But then that's just my opinion....

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com

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G. Effective grass roots gay activism ...
... not in the Courts or at the end of a picket sign, but rather Out On The Dance Floor!!....

I've been there on numerous occasions and believe me when I say that you'd be shocked at the response.

...Nobody asked for My LGBT Opinion...BUT...

Coming OUT in a Social Environment…we all need to do a better job of it. And Gay Dancing is one effective way of accomplishing that.

I am extremely pleased to hear about others within our community who are willing to take their gay lifestyles out into the straight world on a social level, unlike too many of us in our community in my opinion. I’m referring to the June 3rd, 2007 article in the Washington Blade by John Siegfried about the straight bus tours that he and his partner routinely take around the world and how the response by the other tourists are anything but hostile. In fact their participation is actually well-accepted by the straight tourists and better yet, even educational for them about our same-gender relationships.

I have felt for decades that though members of our community claim to be “OUT”, we really aren’t…especially on a social level. We admit our sexuality to family and friends and co-workers, all of whom we know and feel comfortable with. But when it comes to socializing with strangers, we all slink back into hiding in our gay bars, women-only dances and lgbt cabarets and pubs. Which is regrettable because when the right wing-nuts thump on their Bibles and Korans and Torahs and complain about our incessant lifestyle of out-of-control sex, drugs and alcohol, the walking public has nothing available to them to refute those allegations, unless they actually know same-gender couples and individuals and have socialized with them in the past. Unfortunately too many people in this country have to just accept the right wing zealots for their word because they have no personal experiences or examples otherwise.

And whose fault is that? It’s none other than our own. Instead of confidently and openly putting ourselves out there on a social level, we slink away into our lgbt-only venues where we feel secure. What we should be doing instead is to encourage and empower everyone in our community to become more comfortable with our relationships with each other and with our lifestyles as much out in the real world among strangers and less familiar non-lgbt neighbors, co-workers and family members as we are with those close to us. Each one of us needs to make more of an effort on occasion to spend more time socializing and meeting the non-LGBT population head-on in a strictly social environment as gay and lesbian couples and individuals. Regardless of what is decided in the courts, grass-roots gay activism is the only means we have of truly changing people’s minds about our lifestyles and relationships. And it’s changing those minds that will ultimately affect the most important outcome; how people react in the voting booths when it comes to deciding whether or not to provide to us the rights and freedoms that we deserve. We could win every court case that comes down the pike concerning gay marraige and other equal rights, but when the voting public enters the voting booths and passes state and constitutional amendments and laws that deny us our equal rights, what may happen in the courts suddenly becomes ineffective. We've already experienced that with Proposition 8 in California, as a prime example, and have been battling to renew that civil right for same-gender couples of California ever since.

There are a number of us who are Ballroom, Latin, Swing and Country/Western dancers who have routinely taken our talents out into the straight dance environment where they rarely, if ever, see same-gender couples dance together, and especially male couples since straight women often dance together unnoticed. We did so shyly at first, not knowing how people would react (at least the rest of them did ...I've personally been dancing Country/Western since childhood and Ballroom, Latin and Swing since 1969 .... teaching them since '74 so I really had no fears, myself). I was warned over and over again by a number of those attending that if I went through with this I would likely be at the very least be confronted on the way out to the parking lot (which is actually why I think some of the guys attended in the first place ...to watch me try to weasel my way out of the situation that I was about to create). However once the one other person, Nate, who I knew would be willing to dance with me in public arrived and once we made our way around the floor (during which not a single eye in the room of nearly 500 C/W dancers was not on us ....even those on the floor who were dancing themselves), none of us could believe the ensuing response. After our debut, as probably the only male same-gender couple ever witnessed dancing together at this huge dance event full of Country/Western dancers at the former Country Junction in Rockville, Maryland (a packed venue that had a capacity of over 500 people) there was no backlash whatsoever. Without demanding or even asking for attention, again, there was not a single person that wasn't watching as we made our way around the floor doing all of our fairly high level ducks and tucks and wraps and capes that we always danced on a weekly basis at Remington's on Capitol Hill.
Once it was realized that no response negative or otherwise came from it from the by-standers, in no time at all the other 15 guys and 3 lesbians soon all made it out there dancing together and we became a never-before-seen spectacle of unconventional dancers, the likes of which I am positive that none of those attending had ever seen before and which they soon began to accept as no big deal.
After a few times around the floor, it wasn't long that the representative of a row of 10 to 12 women who were sitting along a split-rail fence on one side of the huge dance floor came over to us to find out if we were willing to dance with straight women. Her comment was "We can't believe that you guys can dance that well as leaders and then turn right around and follow". Of course we said we dance with straight women all the time and before the night ended, we danced with all of them many times over. As a result I'm positive that we made many new friends for the LGBT community before the night ended.
Such an outcome was unimaginable to us. I remember hearing only a single negative comment during the whole evening when one of the men made a remark to his girlfriend about “Fags”. I'm not sure what the remark was because we didn't hear anything but that word, which in itself indicated that it wasn't something very positive. I will never forget afterward seeing his girlfriend immediately turning to him saying “Well let’s see you dance like that and then turn around and follow it!”. It was great. The most ardent bigots couldn’t say a word against us without being rebuked by their own peers as having a case of 'sour grapes' for not being as talented as we were with our unconventional leader-and-follower antics on the floor.

It soon became apparent to all of us who attended that evening that Gay Dancing and socializing in a straight social environment could be one of the best forms of grass-roots gay activism that we had ever realized. We never had to demand or even ask for attention because again there wasn’t a pair of eyes in the whole crowd of nearly 500 people that wasn’t glued to us when we entered the floor. I guarantee that there were minds changed during that evening about disapproving gay and lesbian people.

On another occasion, my friend Jason and I (who do a very non-traditional and highly conspicuous West Coast Swing together) were dancing on one end of the huge floor while there was a line-dance going on in the center. I have never before in my life seen 50 to 60 line-dancers with their bodies in one direction doing their line-dance routine while their heads were twisted almost 180 degrees backward so they could watch us. I could see one guy in the center who was pointing toward us and obviously bringing our unconventional performance to everyone’s attention. It was one of the most funny and bizarre sights ever that I will never forget. And by the end of the night, once again we made more straight friends who came up to us than we could ever have imagined. And remember this was not in 2007 or even 2006. It was at least a decade ago and the results today are even that much more positive. Today many of us go to non-lgbt events and dance together and I wish more people would do the same whether as dancers or whatever activities and present themselves on a social level more often as openly lgbt.

On a third occasion I went with my male dance partner at that time to a West Coast Swing all-day event of workshops being taught by Mario Robau who was 4-time World Swing Dance Champion from Houston. Mario was highly respected in this crowd of over 150 West Coast Swing dancers out in Odenton, Maryland and if God himself had walked into the room, he wouldn’t have gotten more admiration and attention from this group of impassioned Swing dancers than 4-time World Champion Mario Robau. I contacted the organizers of the event beforehand to see if my male dance partner could refrain from changing partners during the classes since Todd was the follower and I didn’t want him to get stuck with someone who might embarrass him by refusing to dance with him. The organizers said that we should do whatever made us comfortable and most of all to be sure to come.

Before Mario arrived and the teaching began, Todd and I spent a lot of time dancing on the floor together, since they played music for everyone to warm up with. We had been rehearsing for an upcoming ASGRA (Atlantic States Gay Rodeo Association) dance competition that year and in the process had danced quite a lot of Swing. I had plagerized all of my favorite Jive Choreography into our routines from my favorite performing couples on PBS's "Championship Ballroom Dancing" at the time (now called "America's Ballroom Challenge") which I had saved on at least 15 years of videos. This was long before "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" and included not amateur couples or pro/am couples of which one of the pair is an inexperienced amateur, but rather each competition consisted of the 6 professional finalist couples from around the globe who all threw everything-but-the-kitchen-sink into their technique and choreography. Consequently Todd and I definitely had our act in order when it came to putting on a show. To the amazement of everyone in the room (and probably even moreso to our own amazement), we were both very comfortable with the situation and danced our pea-pickin’ little hearts out before the workshops began. Once again as at the Country Junction, we could feel every pair of eyes in the room of more than 150 people watching us, since male couples just don’t dance at these events. It was eerie to look out and see everyone who wasn’t dancing (and most of those who were) just staring at us. But Todd and I just went on dancing like maniacs, laughing and enjoying ourselves as though we had no clue of how much of a spectacle we had become.

When Mario finally arrived to start the classes, he yelled out to the crowd “OK, everyone, let’s have the men on this side of the room and the ladies over here”…after which he instantly looked into the center of the floor and saw Todd and myself standing together. Immediately he called out again, “OK, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to be politically correct…LEADERS over here and FOLLOWERS over here”. And for the two full days of the event, not once did 4-time World Swing Dance Champion Mario Robau use the words “men and women” when addressing the partners. Once again, God, himself couldn’t have gotten more respect from these people than Mario Robau received. And to have him completely change his teaching style by calling everyone “Leaders and Followers” instead of “Men and Women” for our benefit, and showing us so much respect and consideration was monumental. I cannot tell you how many people came up to us by the end of the day to say that they were glad that we came and wanted us to attend another dance the next night in Bowie, Md. and to just introduce themselves and make us feel welcome. I'm convinced that there were people in that crowd who had issues with gay & lesbian couples when they arrived, but had a different perspective about it by the end of the day.

Several of us also take our talents into the social Ballroom and Latin dance world on occasion where again we dance together as same-gender couples; something which was never heard of in this city more than a decade ago when I first began teaching Ballroom & Latin in Washington DC in 1995. In the process, it’s amazing how many of the straight guys actually end up dancing with us before the night is over, since they become comfortable with the concept and also since we’re accomplished at what we do whether we’re leading or following. Everyone likes dancing with those who are good at it, regardless of what gender they might be, so the same-gender thing loses it’s significance. More than anything else, they just seem to be amazed by the whole idea and almost excited about being a part of it.

Another similar incident occured with two very close friends of mine from New York City who I've known for years as Country/Western dancers through our local Atlantic States Gay Rodeo Association dance events here in washington DC. Several years ago Jorge Guzman and Russell Halley began to train for competition as a male couple in International Latin and have since become one of the top male Latin couples in the European competition events. Something which before now was unheard of, since many of the Europeans start Ballroom and Latin dancing practically at birth. And for an American couple to do well in the European events is definitely the exception as opposed to the rule. On April 24th & 25th, 2004, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ballroom Dance Team held it's 2004 Open Ballroom Dance Competition on the MIT Campus, in Cambridge. The MIT Open is one of the largest ballroom dance competitions in the Northeast, attracting some of the top dancers from all over the country. Russell and Jorge entered as the only same-gender couple in the event to compete against a total of 25 other entries in the upper level pre-championship division. It wasn't even certain at the time of entry that they would be allowed to compete because they weren't a man and a woman, like everyone else on the floor. Also my understanding was that one of the judges was totally against their participation, though the rest of the 25 participating couples were all in favor of allowing them to dance; giving them a place on the dance floor along with everyone else. The Latin Show was provided by Bryan Watson and Carmen, the reigning World Professional International Latin Champions from Great Britain at the time, which is an indication of the caliber of and the focus on professionalism in this event. As the day progressed, the current U.S. International Latin Champion male couple from New York City literally CLEANED HOUSE!!!

Russell and Jorge's stellar performance ultimately put them in second place out of 26 top, top International Latin contenders! Keeping in mind that as a male couple, they did not have the luxury of going out every weekend to other competitions to compete and gain the experience and practice in a competitive environment as do all of the traditional mixed-gender couples. What a catharsis that must have been. And they said that the response to their "antics" Out On The Dance Floor were remarkable, both during and after the performance.

As one who has experienced dancing as a male couple in many non-LGBT environments and on numerous occasions, I guarantee that Russell and Jorge have changed many a once-bigoted opinion toward the LGBT community through this and other such endeavors where they've performed and danced together socially. And once again, I'm more convinced than ever that Gay Dancing in the non-LGBT social environment could be one of the most effective forms of grass-roots gay activism available to us today if we would only take advantage of it. Especially when we're exceptional at what we do and when we change leader and follower roles at the drop of a hat right in the middle of the dance (an action which literally makes the the straight audience gasp in amazement and brings them to their feet on every single occasion). Such bold and daring activities as these are eventually beneficial to all of us in changing the minds of the voting public.(You may visit www.pleasedancewithme.com/ghalleyguzmanphotogallery.htm for photos and accomplishments of Russell Halley and Jorge Guzman, our U.S. International Latin Champion male couple)

All of these examples are the kinds of situations that may have a tremendous effect when people finally vote for or against lgbt rights and anti-lgbt constitutional amendments in the future. And consequently, these are the things that we all need to make more of an honest effort to engage in, at least on occasion, if we are ever going to attain the rights and privileges that should already be available to us in America today. We all have specific non-lgbt social events that we could attend as same-gender couples and 'OUT' lgbt individuals and we should make an effort to do so more often. It doesn't mean that we have to go into major competition mode or devote our lives to our dancing or any other talents that we may have that may get us out into the real social world (as some of us maniacal, obsessive-compulsive beings have chosen to do...), but we should make an effort to do so more often. If we merely do no more than prepare ourselves to dance well and confidently at family weddings and social events, just imagine the impact that such activities may have. When was the last time you saw a same-gender couple at a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or a black-tie affair of any type dance together? I'll bet a "LOT" of money that 95% or more of us never have. We need to change that. I personally have on countless occasions but only because I initiated it and only because I'm confident at what I can do when I'm out there. We all need to consider making these changes and making more of an effort in putting ourselves out there more on a social level in any number of social environments if we are ever going to overcome the lies and hateful claims of bigoted Americans. I have only experienced it 'en masse' a very few times, myself, but in each of those occasions, I was one of the members of the dancing same-gender couple. My hope is that more and more lgbt people will become comfortable as time goes on and in many more social environments as time goes on.

Again, we can carry as many picket signs and fight as many court cases as we care to, but without grass-roots acceptance by the American population in general, that will all be in vain when people walk into the voting booths and vote against us because they don't know us. We must all stop hiding in our "gay only" social events and make more of an effort to take our social lives right out into the straight environment so that when the right wing zealots complain about our ungodly, sex-crazed, alcohol and drug-dominated lifestyles, those in the general public can be well-informed that the social lifestyles of same-gender couples aren’t actually that much different than their own. In fact, they might even be a LOT more fun! And without their being so informed, we are at the mercy of those who would rather see our demise when it comes to adoption, inheritance rights and the 1,049 privileges of marriage that non-LGBT Americans can enjoy in America on a daily basis.

My personal goal is to encourage as many male and female couples to take their talents in Gay DanceSport out into the real world so others can experience our presence not in the closet but rather "Out On The Dance Floor!!".... To cause as many of us as is possible in our LGBT community to meet in friendly, but competitive environments to share and perfect our dancing skills and talents during numerous upcoming same-gender DanceSport events, including the annual New York City 5-Boro Dance Challenge, the Philadelphia Liberty Dance Challenge, the annual and semi-annual IAGLCWDC (International Association of Gay/Lesbian Country Western Dance Clubs) DanceSport events and more throughout the U.S., Europe and around the world, such as Gay Games and World Outgames. Then to spread ourselves and our talents around the globe so that in just one more small way we may change the opinions of some of those who really don't know us.

As one who danced in the very first Ballroom & Latin competitions offered during Gay Games in Amsterdam of 1998, I know for a fact that the level of enthusiasm and excitement that audiences portray by such activities of same-gender couples on the dance floor will be like none ever before witnessed. Especially when the dancers switch back and forth in their leader and follower role-changing antics, which is a common practice in same-gender DanceSport and in Amsterdam literally brought the house down whenever it happened. I had never in my 50 years at the time or even since then, witnessed an audience of any type with so much enthusiasm as the audience that watched the first Gay Games DanceSport competition in Amsterdam. And I'm convinced that the increased publicity and coverage planned for such events in the future as well as all OUT social practices by lgbt people, will do wonders in our fight against the bigotry and discrimination that we endure in this country every day, just as Chaz Bono has done recently in bringing an incredibly positive light on the trasngender community to those who beforehand had never been knowingly exposed to a transgender person. After such experiences which all of us making the effort will endure, whether as competitors or spectators, we will feel immensely more comfortable and encouraged to finally take all of our social talents "Out of the Closets" for a change and "Out On The Dance Floor!!"

...But then that is just my opinion....

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If you have single, one-time or ongoing LGBT dance events in your area, regardless of where you are located, please send the information and links to TerryChasteen@InternationalDanceSport.net or TerryChasteen@hotmail.com for posting on the World-Wide GayDanceSPORT.com and LambdaDanceSPORT.org web site (or www.BrokebackMountain.us for those who have a hard time remembering the first two).
DanceSport training opportunities for same-gender couples
may be found both locally and around the globe by visiting the GayDanceSPORT.com and LambdaDanceSPORT.org web sites. For those interested in dancing locally, whether for social dancing or future Gay DanceSport competion, you may also visit the web site of Lambda DanceSPORT DC at www.LambdaDanceSportDC.org (an affiliate of DC's organization of sports teams, TEAM DC ).

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(the web site for the annual "Out on The Dance Floor Charity Ball" plus monthly "So You Think You Can Dance DC" and "Dancing with the DC Stars" mini-dance competitions (plus occasional "Dancing With The AC/DC Stars" mini-comps for same-gender couples...any orientation, however competing couples must be of the same gender) in all styles open to anyone ..... so join us "Out on The Dance Floor")

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A reply to "Out on the Dance Floor" by DinoInDC:

Terry,
Thanks for the inspirational message. I just wanted to share a personal story,that you might enjoy.
My previous lover was terrified to go out onto the dance floor with me at a GAY BAR. And he loved to dance. He hadn't been out of the closet a long time and could hang out with comfort at the bar and go to gay parties and our families even knew that we were a couple, but it was a whole other step in his coming out process to venture onto the dance floor.
I told him angrily, "You'll f@&% me but you wont dance with me?!" and I stormed out of the bar. We worked it out, and later dancing was one of our favorite things to do together.
You are so right though about just how "out" some of us really are. Looks like dancing might be a good baramoter.

Thanks for the Dance,

John DINO

Thanks, John...there are so many stories like this. If we would only get past our fears that we have to be "invited" by the public to dance in front of them. This is our privelage just as marraige, tax advantages, showing our respect and affection toward each other in public and everything else should be, except this is a privelage that we don't have to wait for new laws to take advantage of and one that we just need to have the courage to take. And in the process those other privelages will come that much sooner. Either way they will come, I'm positive of that. Look how long it took to fight the right wing-nuts and bigots to get black equality in this country and who used the Bible for centuries to justify slavery. But it happened and this will happen as well. Also the discrimination against women which is better, but still notoriously present in most religions which use their interpretations of the writings of the Bible to justify it. That too will come to pass, I am sure of it.
I like the recent remarks by Former NBA center John Amaechi, who disclosed that he's gay in his book 'Man in the Middle".
"Then there are those who say their opinions on homosexuality are taken from the Bible. Many wondered whether I’d even read that book.
The answer is, yes, I’ve read the Bible — cover to cover — and I wonder why homosexuality is the one sin out of the hundreds catalogued there that anyone still cares about?
The Bible also forbids you to wear clothing made from two different fibers, so if that shirt you’re wearing is a cotton/poly blend, then 'You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy!' If you’re a man and you’ve made contact — even inadvertently — with a woman who is having her period, do you perform the purification rituals? Because if you don’t, God’s going to be very unhappy with you.
I hope you haven’t eaten shrimp or lobster, because that’s a no-no, too.
(If you want the straight dope from the King James edition, just read Leviticus. In the interests of ecumenism, find the sacred texts of all religions here.)
While we’re on the subject of the Bible, would anyone care to explain which of the two accounts of creation in Genesis is the right one?

Take Care and Be Well,

John Amaechi

(Regarding the remarks from John Amaechi about the Bible. I've always wondered why these facts aren't used and encouraged for use continually by those whose professions are strictly involved in Gay Activism. Before his untimely death, Rev Larry G. Uhrig insisted that our strongest arguments for acceptance are in the Bible. And that instead of letting others use it against us, we should be informing them of how the Bible is being misinterpreted toward us. However since his untimely death too many years ago, I have seen very few publications to the like about this topic and what the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality. Why?
Like failing to continually push for the promotion different forms of Grass Root Gay Activism on a daily basis, I believe that many of us who are involved in Gay Activism in general are dropping the ball on this one as well.
We should be reading and being informed and educated about what the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality (which is actually nothing...the word doesn't even EXIST in the Bible) in ALL of our LGBT publications on a continuing basis so that we can quote in a heartbeat and refute all of the statements that are exagerated and taken out of context by the wing-nuts who contiually use it against us. I can't remember the last time I've seen anything written on this topic in any of our LGBT publications. Someone please explain to me why...
To me, encouraging the different forms and ideas of accomplishing Grass roots Gay Activism, such as dancng as same-gender couples and other LGBT sports and activities in the non-LGBT environment instead of hiding our social lives, along with educating this community in detail what the Bible really says are two very important considerations that could be two of the most important and effective means of changing the opinions of the non-LGBT public that are available to us today. The accomplisments that we continue to make for our rights and freedoms as of late are monumental, but it does no good to win our rights and freedoms in the courts when we haven't done our homework on the home front and the voting public enters the voting booths to take those rights and privelages right back away from us. And they do so simply because we haven't made the effort and taken the time to educate them about who we really are and what the same Bible that some of us still adhere to actually says about the vicious rape and paganism which resulted in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as opposed to the loving and caring affection between two individuals of the same gender that those of us in the LGBT are actually fighting to preserve.

...But then that's just my opinion...

...and as always, I would LOVE to hear yours...

 

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com
www.BrokebackMountain.us (...for those who have a hard time remembering any of the others...).

..

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H. Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

Grass Roots Gay Activism...are we missing the boat?
I've always felt that in spite of the tremendous effort that we put into trying to change laws in the courts, carrying picket signs and demanding our fair and equal rights in this country, that all of that is in vain if we don't put an equal amount of effort into changing the minds of the middle-of-the-road Americans who will ultimately end up in the voting booths to determine our fate where those rights are concerned.

(1) Of course among other things, I'm referring to dancing...and yes as you might guess, dancing as same-gender couples OUT in the real world. Some of us have done it on numerous occasions and you'd be amazed at the response. And more of us need to come out of our safe havens on occasion from the strictly gay and lesbian bars and social events and do a lot more of it if we're ever going to change the minds of the voting public. Especially if we're exceptionally good at what we do, but even if we're not (it's just easier if we're actually pretty good...).
We all claim to be out in our private lives, but are we really? When was the last time we saw a same-gender couple dance together at a wedding or other major social or family event? When was the last time we did it ourselves? If the right wing zealots are successful at convincing the average citizen about our dimented social activities of drugs, alcohol and promiscuous sex , whose fault is that really? I think that most of us can claim at least part of the blame. Isn't it time that straight America learns to expect such simple things as dancing together by gay & lesbian couples and ultimately learn to get over them because they're so common-place? But that'll never happen if we continue to sneak away into our comfortable gay and lesbian-only social scenes. We all beat up on the entertainers and political people of power who refuse to open up about their personal lives for the sake of jeopardizeing their jobs and success, none of which I condone mind you, but we do the same thing where our own social lives are concerned and many of us don't have nearly as much to lose in the process except for experiencing a little initial anxiety during the process. Though we will continue to blame the right wing-nuts for the problem, we must all accept a part of the blame ourselves for not diffusing their claims by whatever means we can. Which means taking a risk once in awhile that may make us a little uncomfortable, whether by dancing together, holding hands in public, playing at sports events as openly gay & lesbian teams, not hiding our affections for others of the same gender, etc ( www.pleasedancewithme.com/gmyopinion.htm#grassrootsgayactivism Effective grass roots gay activism "At It's Finest"... not in the Courts or at the end of a picket sign, but rather "Out On The Dance Floor").
(2) Secondly I've always had a problem with how we as well as the media in general continually use the term "same-sex" as opposed to "same-gender" when we discuss our associations with each other. Which again just plays right into the hands of the right wing which LOVES to associate us in any way that they possibly can with sex, drugs and/or alcohol. It's not all about "sex" and by continuing to bombard the public with that association, we continue to add fuel to the right wing fire ("Same-sex couples" vs. "Same-gender couples"...are we promoting our image or detracting from it?...www.pleasedancewithme.com/gmyopinion.htm#samegendervssamesex ). If we as gay and lesbian individuals and organizations continue to use the reference to "sex" whenever we refer to ourselves as couples, do we think the non-LGBT community will do any different for our benefit? And if we don't ask them to make the changes, they absolutely will not do so on their own even if they may realize the more negative image that it might create for certain members of the voting public. Again it is those votes which will get us where we deserve to be and even if a small percentage of the religious-minded grandmaws and grandpaws out in Razer Back, Utah are affected, it will make a difference one way or the other.
Regretably I've expressed this opinion on more occasions than I can count to every gay rights organization on earth over the past few years and would have at the very least appreciated a return email indicating that I'm completely off my rocker and am desperately in need of some type of therapy. No such luck...I'm not sure that many in those organizations really care about or pay a bit of attention to most of what anyone sends them unless they receive a big check at the same time. The only person who actually even bothered to respond over the past 2 years was Sylvain Guibord of the First World OutGames, Montreal, who within a week of my email wrote back that the complete web site for the DanceSport competition of OutGames, Montreal, 2006 was being changed to read "male couples", "female couples" and "mixed couples"...no "same-sex couples" ( www.montreal2006.org/en_dancesport.html ). Perhaps if our gay rights organizations were equally as responsive to some of the ideas and concerns of those of us outside of their intimate circles, whether they think they're rediculous or not, we might make a lot more headway in this struggle for fairness, equality and survival...

...But then that's just my opinion...

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...Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

J. Re: An email from Mein S. on 3-7-’07.

Hello!

I'd like to share a positive dance experience I had over this past weekend (see attached photo).

I think it's very cool that I got my picture taken with Heidi (of Benjie & Heidi fame in the "So You Think You Can Dance" TV show in '06).

What's even cooler is that she picked me, from the huge class that she taught, to demo a move (in West Coast Swing) with her last weekend at the “Mad Jam”! (Sorry, I'm just too excited about having interacted with a dance celebrity).
(I caught the West Coast Swing bug earlier this year).

In case you missed her, here's a video montage of her on the show:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-aSE3MHXZM

Mein

....(In response….from meau (sp?)…

HUH!! So you danced with "ME"....and if I’m not a DANCE CELBRITY, what am I?, CHOPPED LIVER?! ... Was this Heidi person ever in a major Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks motion picture with Chris Rock and Bernie Mack ( www.pleasedancewithme.com/headofstate.htm )? And likewise did Heidi ever get credits in a major motion picture?...or is she still getting ROYALTIES (regardless of how small…) from DVD sales, pay TV and HBO (so watch "Head Of State" on HBO and pay-TV; and buy your friends and family "Head Of State" DVD's for their birthdays, anniversaries and other special events….and I’ll get even MORE!!!... )?
Also, was Heidi ever shown numerous times every day, over and over again on every movie and TV screen in America for over a month and a half in 2003 until most of her friends started telling her that they were getting SICK and TIRED of seeing her in that %^*~`’< movie commercial every time they turned on the boob tube?...And is Heidi in the “trailer” of a major motion picture that will probably be available on the movie web sites from now until eternity ( www.mooviees.com/1989/trailers )? Well...I’m not so SURE about this Heidi character!...(but I have to admit, you ARE good...which is why I wanted you to become part of what I feel to be our exceptionally talented lineup of teachers at the Chevy Chase Ballroom...and I'm CONFIDENT that you'll continue getting even better!...).

...But then that's just my opinion....

Take Care, and "CONGRATULATIONS"! (even if I am a bit JEALOUS!...it shoulda' been ME!)

- TLC

(and by the way Mein, "Head Of State" was on channel 4 last Saturday night, which I played on the TV at the studio during the Dance-&-Learn Party...what fun that was! Especially surprising for those who had no idea I had attempted such a ridiculous thing. It's so great to get your “15 minute claim-to-fame” caught on camera in a major motion picture so it gets played over and over and over again...so you can make all of your family and friends HATEFUL!)

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J....Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

(A). If you think that Harry Potter and Daniel Radcliffe are just kid's stuff , this link at www.Playbill.com may definitely change your mind...

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(B). ...Once again a public figure,
John Amaechi, has come out in a new book; this time in the NBA and accompanied by a barage of insults from previous fellow NBA player, retired Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway... whose negative comments continue to elicit supporting retoric for Amaechi from such greats as 'Shaquille O'Neal' and NBA commissioner David Stern who has barred Hardway from any further league-related appearances. Just one more example of why each of us needs to consider dancing more "Out of the Closet" and "Out On The Dance Floor!!"
Visit
http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=2878042 and http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=2879339

(C).
If you missed the hilarious out-of-control response by Ann Curry, being encouraged by the laughing and equally out-of-control rest of the Today Show Team
off-screen - Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Al Roker (especially Al Roker) immediately after playing Hardway's unbelievable remarks, you missed a CLASSIC! LIVE-and on-National TV BLOOPER!
The complete Today Show team deserves a GLAAD Award and especially Ann Curry as she tried to contain laughing out of control this morning after listening to the taped remarks of Tim Hardway. I thought she was crying at first about something as she continued desperately to read the rest of the report and finally everyone on set literally LOST IT! That event has to remain in the archives of one of the funniest bloopers on TV that I've ever seen. We all need to write into MNBC.com to make sure they post it on their web site. And then they all 4 howeled about for another 3 minutes afterward about how funny Anne was. GLAAD, I hope you were watching!....

Former NBA center John Amaechi, who disclosed last week he's gay, said anti-gay comments by another retired player "demonstrate the need to continue the conversation."
Retired Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway said on a radio show Wednesday that he hates gay people, then later apologized for his remarks. Hardaway's comments:
"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people," Hardaway said while a guest on Sports Talk 790 The Ticket in Miami. "I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
The host asked Hardaway how he would interact with a gay teammate.
"First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team. And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that is right. I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room."
If he did find out that a teammate was gay, Hardaway said he would ask for the player to be removed from the team.
"Something has to give," Hardaway said. "If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate."
Amaechi also detailed his life, in his autobiography "Man in the Middle," which was released Wednesday. He hoped his coming out would be a catalyst for intelligent discourse.
"His words pollute the atmosphere," Amaechi said. "It creates an atmosphere that allows young gays and lesbians to be harassed in school, creates an atmosphere where in 33 states you can lose your job, and where anti-gay and lesbian issues are used for political gain. It's an atmosphere that hurts all of us, not just gay people."
Hardaway later apologized for the remarks during a telephone interview with Fox; WSVN in Miami.
"Yes, I regret it. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said I hate gay people or anything like that," he said. "That was my mistake."
Hardaway has reportedly been removed from further league-related appearances by NBA commissioner David Stern.
"It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours," NBA's David Stern said in a statement to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
"Famously, they're saying in 2007 that homophobia is not an issue," Amaechi said. "While (Hardaway) is not a representative of the NBA or of straight men, there's no point pretending it's not an opinion that is out there."

Plus http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=2879339
The Today Show - Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry, Al Roker

The NBA banished Tim Hardaway from All-Star weekend in Las Vegas because of his anti-gay remarks.

Hardaway, who played in five All-Star games during the 1990s, was already in Las Vegas to make a series of public appearances this week on behalf of the league. But after Hardaway said, "I hate gay people" during a radio interview, commissioner David Stern stepped in.

"We removed him from representing us because we didn't think his comments were consistent with having anything to do with us," Stern told reporters Thursday at the opening of a fan festival at a Las Vegas casino, part of the NBA's All-Star weekend.

Stern said he had not spoken with Hardaway, who left Las Vegas on Thursday, but he planned to do so.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7632897/
John Amsechi: Then there are those who say their opinions on homosexuality are taken from the Bible. Many wondered whether I’d even read that book.
The answer is, yes, I’ve read the Bible — cover to cover — and I wonder why homosexuality is the one sin out of the hundreds catalogued there that anyone still cares about?
The Bible also forbids you to wear clothing made from two different fibers, so if that shirt you’re wearing is a cotton/poly blend, ten "You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy!" If you’re a man and you’ve made contact — even inadvertently — with a woman who is having her period, do you perform the purification rituals? Because if you don’t, God’s going to be very unhappy with you.
I hope you haven’t eaten shrimp or lobster, because that’s a no-no, too. If you want the straight dope from the King James edition, just read Leviticus . In the interests of ecumenism, find the sacred texts of all religions here.)
While we’re on the subject of the Bible, would anyone care to explain which of the two accounts of creation in Genesis is the right one?

(Regarding the remarks from John Amaechi about the Bible: I've always wondered why these facts aren't used and encouraged for use by those whose professions involve Gay Activism. Before his untimely death, Rev Larry G. Uhrig insisted that our strongest arguments for acceptance are in the Bible. However since his untimely death too many years ago, I have seen very few publications to the like about this topic and what the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality. Why? I think many of us who are involved in Gay Activism are dropping the ball on this one. We should be reading and being informed and educated about what the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality (which is actually nothing...the word doesn't even EXIST in the Bible) in ALL of our LGBT publications on a continuing basis so that we can quote in a heartbeat and refute all of the statements that are exagerated and taken out of context by the wing-nuts who contiually use it against us. I can't remember the last time I've seen anything written about it in any of our LGBT publications. Someone please explain to me why...I found this online at msnbc.com)

...But then that's just my opinion...

...and as always, I would LOVE to hear yours...

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com
www.BrokebackMountain.us...(for those who have a hard time remembering the others...).

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I. Finding that perfect dance partner, whether for competition or just fun social dancing...

The best way to find the perfect dance partner, whether for future competition or just social dancing is to keep training. The ones who are trained and ready to go are always in high demand.
Point of order....practicing or taking one class a month or every few weeks is hardly considered training if you're actually serious about improving your dancing. Just like working out, it takes more than once a week to just keep from going backwards in your level of ability. And if you're doing less than that and expecting to find a talented and devoted dance partner, whether for competition or just social dancing, good luck. Such tactics are similar to sitting on the couch eating Bon Bons & watching TV every night and planning to start going to the gym once "MR"or "MISS" RIGHT comes along. By then it's too late...you've already missed your opportunity because "MR" or "MISS" RIGHT will be long taken by the time you even begin to notice any results. How is a good potential dance partner going to know you're even serious if you don't make at least some kind of effort to prepare yourself ahead of time? Or likewise how will he or she know if you are going to even like this stuff at all after 3 weeks if you've never even tried it? The fact is that they won't. And they'll make the assumption which you have already expressed by putting it off, which is that you're really "not" serious. The talented and devoted ones who have made their own personal efforts to get prepared rarely want to waste their time with someone who hasn't at least made some type of effort on their own.
A lot of people tell me repeatedly that they really want to dance better. And I mean "A LOT" of them! But very, very few ever take the first step, even in this incredible area of Washington DC which unlike many areas of the US, the level of top, top class instruction and coaching is available everywhere. This is why the really good potential partners want to see some kind of evidence ahead of time that becoming a better dancer is already an established goal that the about-to-be-lucky one is already committed to. They don't want to waste valuable time working with someone who hasn't yet taken even the first step, only to find out that they didn't really want to make the committment in the first place.
The phenomenon of having good luck is often little more than being prepared when the right opportunity comes along. And bad luck, on the other hand is NOT being prepared when that same opportunity arises. Which is why we want to be ready when the perfect dance/practice partner suddenly appears so we don't see them go off to someone else. I have to equate this to my own brief stint in getting a tiny part in a motion picture that some of us were fortunate enough to be chosen for in 2002. Our intention was to volunteer as extras for the film. We just wanted the experience of being in a major motion picture. Extras, by the way, receive practically no pay (maybe $65. for the day, regardless of how long that might be), usually stand around for 10 or more hours at a time (our day was 15 hours long), they sign off on all credits, royalties and everything. They just want a brief chance to be seen "In the movies". A few of us, however, were then chosen to be actual "dancers" in the flick, which put a whole new light on the process. And after we had our first and only rehearsal (which lasted two hours, but which SAG insisted we be paid a minimum of 8 hours for), each couple was assigned a certain piece of choreography to be performed during the filming that would take place in two days. My partner and I decided however that we were not only going to perfect our assigned parts, but those of everyone else in the segment, as well. We wanted to be able to have some variety in case the director asked us to just dance for 5 or 6 minutes without having to do the same thing over and over again. The end product of which might be a better chance of getting some real "face-time" in the flick.
We also worked out what we thought was even better choreography together rather than dancing it individually as was assigned by the choreographer. A routine that we practiced repeatedly during the two-day span between rehearsal and the actual taping. Little did we know that when Chris Rock and his co-director on the set saw it on their monitor in the next room, that they would go "Ballistic" (as described by several other extras in the same room when he saw it) over how it looked; ultimately making this his favorite part of the whole film. In addition because I had practiced the dance role of one of the others whose costuming clashed, I had the opportunity to get in a second spot on the same film segment. A second spot which not only ended up in the film, but into the movie trailer and into almost every TV and theatre ad for the movie for almost two months before it even came out in the theatres. I had people calling me from across town to across the country who saw it either at home on TV or in the theatres (including my family in Ohio who had no idea I had done such a thing). Plus it's still available to be seen, as are all trailers to all movies 'ad infinitum', on www.movies.com. All of this because two of us decided to prepare ourselves well beyond what was expected by the choreographer ahead of time instead of just waiting and sliding through with what was assigned. They actually ended up using us so much in the advertising and marketing of the film, that we received movie credits at the end of the film, in addition to SAG (Screen Actors' Guild) wages (including time and a half over 8 hours and double time over 10...we were there for 15...), and "royalties", which we still receive on occasion for DVD & video sales and pay TV (so buy your friends and families "Head Of State" DVD's for their birthdays and during the holidays and we'll get even MORE!). All of this happened because we decided to be more than ready in case an unforseen opportunity might arise.
Just as in preparing for our little movie gig, nothing will ensure good luck in finding a talented, devoted and serious dance partner any more than preparing and training oneself ahead of meeting that person. So that when the perfect partner just happens out of the blue (which is from where they usually come...a lot like the perfect boyfriends and girlfriends do) you'll be ready.
One should always keep up with at least some form of coaching through classes or private instruction, as well as practicing with or without a partner on at least a weekly basis if you're really serious about finding a good partner and getting better in this incredible and fun-filled sport. That isn't to say that a hard-core, rigorous schedule is a "must" for everyone, mind you, in case you're just planning to dance better socially or to attend Gay Games or the 1st World OutGames as a spectator. But if you do plan to compete and want to do well and learn the maximum that you can learn through the incredible opportunities that will be available to us in 2006, weekly training that starts soon is crucially important. Not only that but the whole process is guaranteed to be a fun and exciting one at the same time and will more often than not produce unlimited returns on a social level once you have started to master some of these newly-discovered dances. What is more, those good dance partners often actually come right out of the classes and practice sessions because during such events, one has the opportunity to come in contact with others who are also actively working to make improvements in their dancing, instead of just talking about it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that just as important as finding the right partner is that both members of a partnership must have the same aspirations of how successful they want to be. And to work together accordingly so that your level of preparation is determined by those goals. Such thoughts and perceptions of what the final product will be and who might be interested in the same goals can be better determined while spending time in classes and practice sessions with other potential partners. You can tell who's more serious or not-so-serious if that's what you prefer, and as a result you'll be better equiped to make a more educated choice.
Regarding 2006, literally anyone can be prepared for at least the beginner level and most probably intermediate by either Gay Games, Chicago or the World OutGames, Montreal (or preferably both), even if you are just starting to train now. And believe me when I say that as one who attended the very first Ballroom & Latin competition ever held during Gay Games in Amsterdam of 1998, there will not have been two more fun-filled, high-energy and exciting Gay & Lesbian events on this continent than the dance events that we'll have the opportunity to experience in Chicago and Montreal in 2006. Events that I guarantee you will never regret spending time preparing yourself for, whether as a spectator or competitor. They were the most sold-out events in Amsterdam and they were the most sold-out events again in Gay Games, Sydney. And I guarantee they will once again be sold out very early in 2006. Plus in Amsterdam they were shown daily on all of the local TV stations. The Gay Games committee has already worked out arrangements with Q Television, a pay cable station which will be unscrambled during the 8 day sports and cultural festival so that everyone can view the coverage whether they've paid for Q Television or not. Such broad television coverage has never been available in the history of the Gay Games. Q Television will be available in 150 markets by July of 2006 and I'm confident that from past experience, the dancing performed by same-gender couples will get more than it's fair share of face-time during Gay Games and probably beyond.
As one who has already been dancing for 30+ years and who considers himself a not-so-bad, fair-to-middlin' dancer, I personally continue weekly classes in several different dances. Those include Flamenco, (great for your hand and arm styling in Paso Doble...but it's "tough" doing all those difficult foot patterns and arm movements at once!), Middle Eastern dance (belly dancing; incredible for International Samba!) tap, (great for speed and precision in Jive or ANY of the dances that require fast footwork), advanced Salsa on 2 (mambo) every Sunday, and gold International Ballroom and Latin classes (an ongoing series which eventually includes 8 of the 10 International Ballroom & Latin dances over an 8 month cycle and then repeats). Having danced since 1974, it just goes to show that regardless of how good you might get or how experienced you are, training is truely a never-ending process. Mainly because there's always another level to strive toward.
The average dancer, however, needn't be so obsessive/compulsive, unless you decide that you really love this stuff. Some of us are addicted to it. And the more we learn and the better we get, the more maniacal we get (very similar to the way some people get high on alcohol or drugs!...). The point is that regardless of the level you wish to attain, it will take time and a committment to find the right partner and to receive the greatest return from these two absolutely incredible dance opportunities in 2006. Opportunities the likes of which have never before been available to those of us on the North American Continent and may not be available to us again for years to come (unless of course we as Americans get our own acts together as the European LGBT dancers have done....which I hope will happen after so many more of us have the opportunity to personally witness such events right here in North America). Hopefully you won't miss either one of them, even if you plan to attend as a spectator and not actually as a competitor. At a minimum you'll want to prepare yourself to feel comfortable dancing socially with the many other gay & lesbian dancers from across the US and around the world.
So do yourself a favor and start now. And please don't put it off and regret having done so as you watch everyone else out having an incredible time on the dance floor.
For the first time during Gay Games, Chicago, 2006, as well as during World OutGames, Montreal, 2006, Country/Western competitions will also be included in addition to International Ballroom & Latin and wheelchair dancing. This makes something available for literally everyone to either compete in or watch, regardless of their favorite dance style.
There are numerous opportunities for taking classes and locating fun dance events all across the United States and around the globe for you to take advantage of listed at www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org (www.GayDanceSPORT.com). The time you put in will never be time wasted.

And of course we hope to see you OUT on the dance floor in 2009, if not before.

Dance partner search...Response to an email: Sorry I can't be more helpful but "If it is to be, it is up to thee". We all have to make ourselves look like we're worth someone's efforts to train with us. Good and committed practice/dance partners do not grow on trees.

Hi,
The Lambda DanceSPORT DC Gay Games practice and training sessions are on Fridays and Sunday nights as well as during any # of regular classes (attached and at www.LambdaDanceSportDC.org).
I'm copying your statement below. If you wish to learn this stuff, I'm afraid we all have to train ourselves. I hate to have to be so realistic, but I'd be doing you a disservice if I suggested that I or anyone else will be willing to train a new dance partner. That is a LOT of work and time and effort and expense and we all need to be responsible for our own future when it comes to dancing and finding a partner.
You jump into classes and practice sessions and make the effort to make yourself desireable as a dance partner as opposed to expecting someone to come along and take the responsibility to do it for you. I've been teaching this stuff since 1974 and I'm still in training several hours per week. But I don't expect someone else to come along and make it possible for me. "If it is to be, it is up to me..." and that's the only way to make someone feel comfortable enough with your level of motivation and committment to care to train along with you. Dance partners come and go and if one hasn't bothered to begin the training on their own, how do you know someone is serious? You won't know even yourself until you at least make an effort. This is very hard work and MANY who start don't last.
It's like sitting in front of the TV and eating Bon Bons until Mr or Ms Right comes along as opposed to going to the gym and preparing ourselves for Mr or Ms Right ahead of time. They're going to go with the ones who have made the effort to get off of the couch and get fit. And dance partners are going to do the same.
The level of dancer that I personally am looking for is very advanced to begin with, which would have to involve nearly a decade of previous training...a fraction of the training that I have already given myself. Plus to dance in Gay Games and OutGames, I need a same-gender partner. Working with a female partner for showcases, team performances, etc may be a possibility, but I can find any number of very highly trained female partners at my level to compete with as a mixed-gender couple. To dance in Gay DanceSPORT, however, I need another male dancer.
All is not bad, however. I'm sure that with some classes and experience, new partners will become available. However if you believe that they will just come out of the woodwork and commit a lot of time and effort on someone who hasn't bothered to take the first step on their own, that won't happen. Sorry to have to call a spade a spade, but that's just my style. I would never make a good politician, most of whom just dance around the facts instead of being up front with reality. Instead of finding someone who is dedicated enough to set a goal and make it happen, the goal to make all of this happen I'm sorry to say has to be yours and yours alone.
Hopefully you can jump into the training sessions, mainly on Fridays from 5:30 to 8:30 and Sundays after 7:30.
I hope all of this helps to indicate how you can get started. You can also include your information on the "Dane Partner Search" of www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org.

Take Care,

- Terry

Terry Chasteen's "International DanceSPORT and Entertainment"
(Providing entertainment plus easy, affordable and fun instruction in every style of social dance from around the globe)
TerryChasteen@yahoo.com, TerryChasteen@InternationalDanceSPORT.net
202-462-0870
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com
www.DanceSportOfAmerica.com
www.InternationalDanceSPORT.com
www.InterNationalDanceSPORTcompany.com
www.TangoDanceSPORT.com
www.DanceAtYourWeddingWorkshops.com
www.TheDancingKidsNetwork.com
www.MichaelJackonsThriller.com
www.Learn-to-Dance-athon.org
www.DancingWithTheDCStars.info

(www.OutOnTheDanceFloor.net)
(the web site for the annual 1st Saturday in June "Out on The Dance Floor Charity Ball" plus monthly "So You Think You Can Dance DC" and "Dancing with the DC Stars" mini-dance competitions (plus occasional "Dancing With The AC/DC Stars" mini-comps for same-gender couples...any orientation, however competing couples must be of the same gender) in all styles open to anyone ..... so join us "Out on The Dance Floor")

www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org
www.GayDanceSPORT.com,

www.LambdaDanceSportDC.org (www.DancingWithTheACDCStars.com)
www.BrokebackMountain.us
(the web site of the Brokeback Mountain Photo Gallery)
www.LambdaDanceSportNews.com

 

It's time to "STOP WATCHING" all the fun....

...and start "HAVING IT"!!

...But then that's just my opinion....

(You may send your profile for finding a dance partner to TerryChasteen@hotmail.com to be posted on the Lambda DanceSPORT International web site if you're looking for a potential dance partner, whether for competition or social dancing. Visit www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org or www.GayDanceSPORT.com)

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J. In response to "Ballroom Dancing Is Not a Sport
(So why is it in the Gay Games?)"
By Jonathan M. Bell For Outsports.com
(http://www.outsports.com/columns/bell/whatissport20010827.htm)

Nobody asked for My Opinion...BUT...

In response to the article by Jonathon Bell that Ballroom & Latin dancing are not sports, I have to say that it is obvious that Jonathon has never attempted either one of these dance styles on a serious level or he would know otherwise. It is easy to sit back and judge what one might think is physically strenuous or not; there are a ton of armchair critics on this earth, but unless you have ever made an effort to accomplish those movements and coordinated efforts between two individuals, in perfect time and to music that's 100 miles an hour, how would you know?
And this criteria that you have to fall down on a regular basis (even though I have seen many a Ballroom & Latin Competitor fall in the middle of a performance) to be a real sport; what is that all about? Do runners fall on a regular basis while they're running in competition? Granted sometimes they do, but not always, so does that make running suspect for being a cultural event also? Just because gymnasts and skaters often do, does that mean that every sport must fall flat on their faces to be considered a sport? And what about swimmers? Swimmers don't fall, unless you consider jumping into the water at the start of a contest falling, in which case maybe swimming isn't really a sport either. I'm very confused as to how anyone could come up with such a requirement of how much a competitor has to fall for an event to be considered a sport.
And if Jonathon doesn't think that physically these people aren't in top notch condition and extending themselves to the absolute limit during a performance, even though it may not look as though they are (which is the objective...to extend your physical movement and exertion to the maximum while still maintaining balance and constant communication with your dance partner without it looking like you're doing so), once again, he is talking about something that he has never ever tried. Without even knowing him, I would bet good money and a "LOT" of it that Jonathon has never, ever attempted serious Ballroom & Latin dancing. I'm not talking about going down to the club on a Saturday night and taking off your shirt and bouncing around for 3 hours doing your aerobics work-out routine. Nor am I talking about social dancing in a social Ballroom, Latin, Hustle or Swing dance environment. But rather I'm talking about serious full blown Ballroom & Latin competitive dancing. Accomplished to the timing and speed of the music and perfectly synchronized with your partner and performing patterns and turn combinations that are often faster than the eye can see. Plus in our environment, changing leader and follower roles right in the middle of the performance.
As for the equestrian events, if they are included in the cultural, as opposed to sport categories of Gay Games, then I agree 100% that they shouldn't be. Having raised, trained, shown and sold show horse for 26 years in a past life, I will attest that Jumping is an incredibly demanding sport, both physically and mentally. And it doesn't come close to what most would consider a cultural event. If the equestrian events are not considered sport events in Gay Games, they should be.
I guess my only other response to the question of whether Ballroom & Latin dancing should be considered sports or not during Gay Games and the 1st World OutGames in 2006 is that the Olympics have already slated Ballroom dancing as an exhibition sport to be included in the near future as an actual competitive event. If the Olympic Committee considers Ballroom & Latin dancing to be physically and mentally demanding enough to be considered a sport without their having to fall down repeatedly throughout a performance, than why shouldn't we?

...But then that's just my opinion....

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com

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Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

K. Don't forgive the Reverend Ted Haggard... instead accept him for what he is...which is Gay. Gay like Jim McGreevy, Mark Foley and millions of other men and women in America -- who have been brow-beaten from childhood through the graces of our supposed God-fearing, loving, forgiving, non-judgmental, and all-too-righteous American majority -- about their secret and innate sexual attractions which have usually plagued them since very early in life. Rev Haggard and millions of others like him have been plagued by gay-bashing remarks and sometimes treatment that are far too often performed by far too many people in this country; not only in the schools, but during simple casual conversation and more than anywhere else, in our churches. In the very houses of our ever-loving Heavenly Father. Such remarks and condemnation without a doubt cause many such as Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, James McGreevy and millions of others around the world to ultimately give in to self-destructive behavior as a result of the self-hatred that our holier-than-thou American society forces upon them.
Of course the popular justification for such actions of discrimination is that "It's in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin". But in spite of the fact that the word "homosexuality" cannot be found anywhere in the Bible, and that the word "love" is in the Bible over 400 times, how do we justify the sins of women cutting their hair, which is strictly prohibited in the Bible? And women wearing their dresses above the knee? That too is prohibited in the Bible, as well as men cutting their beards and the sin of wearing both silk and wool at the same time, something that every one of us with our wool suits and silk ties or handkerchiefs often do on a daily basis without thinking twice about it. All of this in addition to a multitude of customs which we all take part in every single day without a second thought are absolutely prohibited in the early Bible. But still it's love and affection between two people of the same gender which is the sole infraction of these ancient offenses that we continue to show distaste toward. Practices of love affection and concern for one another as opposed to what at that time was definitely not done out of love and affection between the partners involved, but rather done either as rape to express disdane for strangers or enemies or as a practice of paganism and idol worship supposedly for the purpose of influencing better growth of the crops. These were not loving and caring relationships, but rather an abomination against God through paganism and idol worship as opposed to actually expressing love and affection toward the partner involved. Totally different than the love and affection that the LGBT community is fighting to protect today.
But why does this practice of affection between two people of the same gender continue to be held in such greater contempt where other forbidden practices from the early Bible aren't? First of all it's much easier for those who benefit from the practice of "Divide and Conquer" to discriminate against a small group of people who will never attain more than 10% of the population, according to extensive research. Could this advantage be taken out on a group of people who consisted of 60, 70 or 80% of the population? I doubt it. Minorities have been discriminated against for centuries because they're easy targets and can't defend themselves against the majority. This community of people just happens to be another easy target. Even before the research showing how small the gay and lesbian population is, which is very recent, it was always known that the percentage of "those people" has always been small. Which must automatically mean there's something wrong with them and they're prime targets to be shunned and taken advantage of if they're not like the majority. Sound familiar? It's something that our African-American friends in this country have endured for generations along with numerous other incidences of discriminatin. This struggle is no different.
Secondly since it's the sex that's different and conveniently receives the emphasis of these relationships from the disciples of hypocricy as opposed to the affection -- which is what any true relationsip is really about -- it's much easier to create repudiation against something that involves this taboo act and completely overlooks the genuine bases of the relationships, namely love, respect and affection. This is why some supporters prefer the use the term of homo-affectionate as opposed to homosexual which just plays into the hands of those disciples of hypocricy with that horrible word...."sex".
What is also obvious and regrettable in this whole form of discrimination is that many of the fear tactics that the moral majority use are more often than not, wedge issues for the sole purpose of motivating the oblivious and misinformed public to dig deeper into their pockets to fill the coffers. Coffers belonging to those religious and political individuals who benefit from the power and financial gain that such divisive fear tactics always have and always will provide. Let's face it, Carl Rove used this "Divide and Conquer" wedge issue of gay marraige to the max to successfully frighten the religious community in this country to put his constituents in the position of power that they've had for the past 6 years while at the same time ignoring the not-so-emotional but much more important issues of social security, health care, education and dealing with the war in Irag. In addition that fear brought billions of dollars to the politicians and participating churches to fight off this horrible thought of same-gender couples being joined legally in a loving, caring and responsible relationship. How awful! What is even harder to believe is that after the centuries of documentation and exposure of the success of the tactic of "Divide and Conquer" that so many supposedly-educated people in this country are still falling for this centuries-old tactic; hook, line and sinker.
None of this is meant to imply condonation of activities of adultery, bigotry, drug use, prostitution, pedophilia and the use of political power for personal gain or the gain of their significant others by those who are hiding their sexuality, which has taken place in all 3 of the above examples. Those are character issues that each of us must decide to either participate in or not. But it does imply that if everyone has the luxury of feeling comfortable being their true selves early in life and the luxury of living in the company of those they're naturally attracted to -- as most Americans are permitted to do without condemnation -- many more people may not feel the pressures that cause one to undertake such subversive and destructive secret lifestyles including drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and the self-hate which is the cause of such maladies. The incredible pain and confusion that are endured by those who are so afflicted, along with the resulting pain and suffering of their families and loved ones after the truth about them is finally exposed could have been so easily avoided by simply eliminating these condescending, discriminatory actions of so many people in this country from the beginning. So that everyone can feel comfortable to live, love and let-live as they were intended to do from the onset, as opposed to being forced into the unattainable molds of expectation that others have formed for them. Unattainable goals and expectations which they ultimately begin to demand of themselves and which can only seem to be reached on the surface while actually indulging in a secret and underhanded world of lies, deceipt and hypocrisy below the surface. An existance that just continues to be filled with one lie after another.
The time is long overdue for each of us in the U.S. and around the world to attend to our own affairs and stop forcing our personal beliefs and expectations onto everyone else. The religious wars are a prime example of this. How many different religions are there out there? Count them sometime and you'll be amazed. Yet according to most of them, those who don't believe what they believe are surely on a one-way path to hell. Which means that a LOT of us are going to ultimately end up in HELL! How many wars on tis earth over centuries of time have been the result of differences in religion? All of this has to be a sign that there are many religions and many of the religious who are out of touch with reality. And sadly the expectations of these people to have others only follow their beliefs are often made out of the desire for money, power and personal gain as opposed to the love of God.
The sad part for Reverend Haggard particularly, unlike former New Jersey Governor James McGreevy who finally faced and admitted his sexuality and who is now happily involved in a committed same-gender relationship, is that the political and personal pressures on Ted Haggard through the church and through his family and circle of support will probably end up in "therapy" to cure his gay attractions. And out of political and social pressures he will probably resort to the deception and falacy of this "EX-Gay rehabilitation" instead of facing and admitting the truth. And in the end -- once again out of political and social pressures -- he will probably pretend that such treatment has worked. After which he'll supposedly be cured of this horrible affliction that has plagued him as long as he can remember. Through a great deal of research, however, it has been repeatedly shown that these "Ex-gay" procedures never work, in spite of what those who are making the money from them and what some of the so-called "success stories" claim. Many of them have been forced out of business by the courts and the only thing that such programs have ever accomplished long-term is to create more frustration and depression in people for continuing to try to be someting that they're really not. Such "Ex-Gay" programs only gloss the problem over for a time. No therapy can change the innate characteristics that we were all born with, including our blue or green eyes, the color of our hair and our sexuality. We can temporarily change our eye and hair color but over time, unless we keep adding the hair coloring or wearing colored blue contacts, we will at long last end up the same as when we started.
The indication that Reverend Haggard will probably take this "Ex-gay road-to-recovery" is already becoming obvious from a remark that he recently made confirming his belief that there is a "dark and evil side" to him. Meaning that he believes that the dark and evil problem is his as opposed to the dark and evil side of those who refuse to let him and others live and let live as they were intended to do from birth by their creator. In the final scheme of it all, Reverend Haggard most likely will contine in the same world of lies, deceipt and frustration that has plagued him from the get-go even if he doesn't again act upon his sexual inclinations. A situation that will sadly never end in complete honesty, happiness and contentment by any of those involved.
In closing I want to clarify that having been raised in the church and participating in the church for most of my life, I personally am at this point as spiritual as I have ever been. My problem, however is with the many who use the word of God and religion to create fear, promote hate and discrimination and more often than not, use the word of God and religion to promote their own personal gain.

...But then that's just my opinion...

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Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...(condensed version)

K. Don't forgive the Reverend Ted Haggard... instead accept him for what he is...which is Gay. Gay like Jim McGreevy, Mark Foley and millions of other men and women in America -- who have been brow-beaten from childhood through the graces of our self-proclaimed God-fearing, loving, forgiving, non-judgmental, and all-too-righteous and patronizing American majority -- about their secret and innate sexual attractions which have usually plagued them and millions like them since their lives began -- and which is often the cause of their ultimate subversive and destructive secret lifestyles. Lifestyles which often involve vices such as drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, self-hate and for far too many teens in this country, suicide. It is estimated that a very large proportion of gay teens in America each year are chosing the regrettable route of suicide as opposed to having to deal with the hate and bigotry that they must continually endure on a daily basis from America's moral majority. Hate and bigotry not only propogated in their homes and schools but more often than anyewhere else, in their churches.
Self-hate is bestowed upon them by the selfish pressures of society -- especially pressures from those who sit and judge everyone else's lives instead of recognizing their own contributions in causing such maladies in those who they try to intimidate--and who they try to intimidate only for the sake of their own personal, financial and political gain and not necessarily for the good or well-being of the ones they condemn, in spite of what is claimed. Hopefully someday the gullible, misinformed
and too-easily-impressed religious majority will learn to see through these selfish and egocentric "Divide and Conquer" tactics used routinely by our politicians and often our clergy, only to fill their coffers and to gain personal wealth and power. After all, if you believe the stories that "the homosexuals are coming and are going to take over the country", one may be much more prone to vote for you, attend your church and reach deep into your pockets in both instances to avoid such a humiliating end. It's these scare tactics that too many in America believe and react to irrationally. Hopefully people will someday see through such proclamations of bigotry, hate and condemnation which they claim the Bible promotes, when the Bible that I've read speaks of nothing but unconditional love and acceptance -- for everyone -- not just for those designated by a chosen few.
And if you don't believe the effectiveness of such tactics with those who are so misinformed, remember that they won a Presidency by using them in the not-too-distant past and now look at the mess this country is in. Someday soon America is going to have to wake up...

...But then that's just my opinion...

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L. "Who's blaming whom for the problems of the 'Games'?"
Re: "Quebec says OutGames lost more than $5 million"
(International News, The Washington Blade, November 24, 2006)

Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

I believe that many of us who either are, or would like to be more involved in a unified Worldwide sports program in our LGBT community are incensed by the recent sentiments of the co-chair of the first World OutGames in Montreal, Marielle Dupere when she attributed the financial loss of the OutGames to Gay Games, 2006. The quote from the November 24th Washington Blade was “Dupere blamed Gay Games, held in Chicago in July for negatively impacting the financial performance of OutGames, the Canadian Press reported”. To be exact, the Gay Games schedule had been designated for the summer of 2006 for quite some years and after tempers clashed and possibilities to compromise for both sides went right out the window, it was OutGames which decided to pull the plug and go off to organize their own competing organization and event -- not only in the same year, but in the same 30-day period and on the same North American Continent. So how can anyone involved in that process blame anyone else except OutGames for their own financial demise with a clear conscience?
And even more appalling was the supposed reason for the split between the two entities which was that OutGames had ideas of grandeur in holding a mammoth-sized event whereas Gay Games was tired of going in the red decade after decade and wanted to curb the excessive expenses of the final product.

I would bet that after all of this, Gay Games is happy that they didn’t jump on the band wagon and overlook their premonitions of what could happen. Nonetheless at the same time I believe a great percentage of the LGBT sports community feels that both sides dropped the ball in refusing to come up with a compromise that would make the lives of all of us in the LGBT sports community much easier without having to split up into two different World-wide events -- even if those are a full year apart in 2009 and 2010. This is still going to detract from the success of both events and who will be the ones to lose? It’s the competitors who will lose. Not being able to bring the whole planet of LGBT competitors together at one quadrennial event, but rather splintering the numbers between several major contests.

My hope is that the powers-that-be will stop blaming each other for what happened in the past and that both sides will renew a commitment to sitting down and compromising on a unified program for the good of our complete community, as opposed to digging in their heels and refusing to budge. If we need anything in this community of only 10% of the population, it’s unity – not tearing our resources in different directions just because ego’s continue to get in the way of understanding and compassion for those competitors who spend a tremendous amount of time, energy and money to support these events. Most of whom I’m positive would prefer to aim their sites on one single, magnificent world-wide and all-inclusive set of ‘Games’.

...But then that's just my opinion...

Terry Chasteen
(Visit "Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT..." at www.pleasedancewithme.com/gmyopinion.htm)

Terry Casteen
Terry@InternationalDanceSPORT.net
202-462-0870

Lambda DanceSPORT International
www.LambdadanceSPORT.org
www.GayDanceSPORT.com
www.BrokebackMountain.us

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M. Why religion and gonernment don't mix...and whose fault that is.

...Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

I believe it's a misunderstanding that those who insist that religion be kept out of government in this country do so because these people are against religion and/or God. What they're against is all of those who insist that THEIR religion and beleifs, whatever that religion is, should be forced down the throats of everyone else just because this is America and America was founded by Christians. I'm sorry, but government is no place for that. When a brand new Muslom congressman is being told that he must be sworn in on the Bible and not on his own Coran (or torrah, or whatever book one believes in) as certain Soutern zealots insisted in the near past, that is nothing more than out and out bigotry. And the right wing in this country is NOTORIOUS for out and out bigotry; most of which is for no other purpose than the centuries old "Divide and Conquer" tactics to scare people to reach deeper into their pockets to overcome such fabricated threats. It's a typical power and money tactic and too may in this country regrettably fall for it.
Look at the way the Republican party used the religious gay marraige ban as an example to put this maniac back into office...and everyone bought into it, hook, line and sinker. And now look at the mess we're in. As if gays being married or not is more important than health care, education and the spending of more and more money on this unbelievable war that was strictly for the purpose of giving this administration "oil power" and bragging rights in the first place. Bragging rights and "oil power" which never came after the whole mess blew up in their faces. I can still see this President on that Navy ship bragging about "Victory in Iraque". WHAT A JOKE!....
And then people just turned right around and voted him back into power for fear of nothing more than the religious "Gay Marraige" ban. If Gods and Bibles and Corans and Torrahs and all religions are going to be incorporated in this government, then they ALL need to be included equally. Not just the one religion of Christianity that some wish to cram down everyone's throats. And if the powers that be want to just use govermment as a means of forcing their own particular religions onto others, then we need to keep it out completely.
The "Separation of Church and State" was passed for a purpose. How many wars and deaths on this earth over it's complete history took place for no other reason than religious greed in government? Look at the middle East right now. What are they fighting about? Differences in their religion! Which is why the forefathers passed "Separation of Church and State" in the first place, though many continue to ignore it and continue to attempt their self-promoting antics. And until every church and religion on earth is included equally regardless of how small or large, I'm all for forcing it out completely until everyone in this country can learn to focus on the similarities of all of us, instead of our religious differences.

....But then that's just my opinion...

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N. A tribute to Steve Irwin:

We are sadened at the incredible loss and will always miss this irreplacable icon of wildlife conservation and compassion.
We should all be so passionate about life and love...


Terri, Robert, Steve and Bindi Sue


1962 - 2006

"Many things will catch your eye,
few will catch your heart; pursue those."

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Sir Winston Churchill



Harry the Koala and Rosie 2 the green sea turtle


The endangered tiger

Purchase the Steve Irwin Memorial Tribute DVD and
"He Changed our World"
to benefit wildlife conservation at
1-800-358-8600

Also available on the web site of Steve Irwin's "Wildlife Warriors Worldwide" at
www.WildlifeWarriors.org.au

 

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...Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

O. Re: An email from Mein S. on 3-7-’07.

Hello!

I'd like to share a positive dance experience I had over this past weekend (see attached photo).

I think it's very cool that I got my picture taken with Heidi (of Benjie & Heidi fame in the "So You Think You Can Dance" TV show in '06).

What's even cooler is that she picked me, from the huge class that she taught, to demo a move (in West Coast Swing) with her last weekend at the “Mad Jam”! (Sorry, I'm just too excited about having interacted with a dance celebrity).
(I caught the West Coast Swing bug earlier this year).

In case you missed her, here's a video montage of her on the show:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-aSE3MHXZM

Mein

....(In response….from meau (sp?)…

HUH!! So you danced with "ME"....and if I’m not a DANCE CELBRITY, what am I?, CHOPPED LIVER?! ... Was this Heidi person ever in a major Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks motion picture with Chris Rock and Bernie Mack ( www.pleasedancewithme.com/headofstate.htm )? And likewise did Heidi ever get credits in a major motion picture?...or is she still getting ROYALTIES (regardless of how small…) from DVD sales, pay TV and HBO (so watch "Head Of State" on HBO and pay-TV; and buy your friends and family "Head Of State" DVD's for their birthdays, anniversaries and other special events….and I’ll get even MORE!!!... )?
Also, was Heidi ever shown numerous times every day, over and over again on every movie and TV screen in America for over a month and a half in 2003 until most of her friends started telling her that they were getting SICK and TIRED of seeing her in that %^*~`’< movie commercial every time they turned on the boob tube?...And is Heidi in the “trailer” of a major motion picture that will probably be available on the movie web sites from now until eternity ( www.mooviees.com/1989/trailers )? Well...I’m not so SURE about this Heidi character!...(but I have to admit, you ARE good...which is why I wanted you to become part of what I feel to be our exceptionally talented lineup of teachers at the Chevy Chase Ballroom...and I'm CONFIDENT that you'll continue getting even better!...).

...But then that's just my opinion....

Take Care, and "CONGRATULATIONS"! (even if I am a bit JEALOUS!...)

- TLC

(and by the way "Head Of State" was on channel 4 last Saturday night, which I played on the TV at the studio during the Dance-&-Learn Party...what fun that was! Especially surprising for those who had no idea I had attempted such a ridiculous thing. It's so great to get your “15 minute claim-to-fame” caught on camera in a major motion picture so it gets played over and over and over again...until you make all of your family and friends HATEFUL!)

P. Terry Chasteen's bio


Terry Chasteen is the founder of metropolitan Washington DC's International DanceSPORT Company and has been teaching the many different forms of social dance (International and American style Ballroom and Latin, Argentine Tango, Salsa, Swing, Hustle and Country/Western) since 1974. Mr. Chasteen teaches both competitive dancing as well as the most basic level social dances, including children's dance and etiquette classes. He is a firm believer that everyone can (and should!) dance. He also believes that emphasis on proper technique and styling are paramount for all levels, including the most beginner level dancers, to achieve maximum and long-lasting results.
Through his 10-year affiliation with Washington area "Dance Guru", Ron Bennett and the many talented coaches who continually come through the Chevy Chase Ballroom & DanceSport Center each year, Terry has had and continues to have the opportunity to train with many of the top competitors, coaches and trainers from across the continent and around the world, many of which are seen routunely on some of the major DanceSport events in the media. He has been published and quoted on numerous occasions in local and national magazines and newspapers, including The United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association's "Amateur Dancers Magazine" (including a 2002 three-part article, "To Teach Well or Not To Teach Well...That is the Question"), The Washington Post, The Washington Blade, Woman's Monthly, Washingtonian Magazine and 5-6-7-8 Dance magazine. Terry has also taught dance to audiences on live television on numerous occasions for Fox-5 TV and he recently received a credited cameo dance role in the major motion picture, "Head of State", starring, written by and directed by the former "Funniest Person in America", comedian Chris Rock. That assignment in "Head Of State" not only paid SAG (Screen Actors' Guild) wages, which were totally unexpected after merely volunteering as a movie extra, but which turned out to be pretty incredible pay for a day and a half of work! In addition to several spotlight performances in the movie, it provided him with a spotlight in the promotional movie trailer that will probably be available on the internet from now until eternity (visit www.Mooviees.com and www.Movies.Yahoo.com plus www.imbd.com for some great movie photographs of the principle actors from "Head Of State"). As well, Terry was included in almost all of the movie advertisements with either one or both partners from "Head of State" that were shown extensively on every TV and movie screen across the United States through February, March and early April of 2003. After his two short "front-and-center" performances in the movie with both partners, Terry not only received movie credits, but even ROYALTIES! (so watch for "Head of State" on pay TV and when it comes to HBO and buy your friends, relatives and neighbors the DVD...and he'll get even MORE!!...).
Terry was a competitor during Gay Games® Amsterdam, ’98 in the very first Gay Games® that offered competition in International Ballroom & Latin DanceSport. Not having had a dance partner before the event, Terry was able to find through the Equality DancE committe which organized the first DanceSport competition a competing partner from South Africa through the Gay Games® organizing committee one day before the first event. In spite of the handicap of dancing with a brand new person, Terry and his partner were able to make it all the way to the semi-finals in category B of the Latin competition. This in spite of the fact that the other couples had had in some cases several years to practice their routines together before the event.
To Terry, the Gay Games experience was one of the most inspiring events ever. Dr Phil McGraw would call it a "Defining Moment"; an event which changes a person from within and after which one is never again the same. This experience with the many talented gay and lesbian dancers in Europe has become an impetus for insuring that such opportunities in Ballroom, Latin, Country/Western and all other dance styles for same-gender couples will become more and more available to every one in the U.S. and other parts of the world. That is the primary objective of Lambda DanceSport International (www.LambdaDanceSport.org) of which Terry is one of the founding members. The Lambda DanceSport web site includes a list of ongoing, as well as single, one-time partnership dance events for same-gender couples across the U. S. and around the globe, so that LGBT dancers will find it easier to locate places to dance and people to dance with as gay and lesbian couples wherever they happen to travel.
Terry’s personal theory and primary objective for helping to organize Lambda DanceSport International is three-fold. The first part is a very selfish one...he and the rest of those of us involved LOVE TO DANCE!...and we want more people in the LGBT community to dance with. Also, by promoting better dancing of all styles for same-gender couples, we can better unite and bring together the many different factions of our own community through our mutual love and passion for this incredible sport and through the different types of music and styles of dance. And lastly, our unique ability to dance both leader and follower roles as gay dancers at the drop of a hat (which is unheard of in the non-LGBT community) and changing those roles right onto the dance floor and in the middle of a song will always get a lot of attention from anyone who witnesses such a phenomenon. Attention which will ultimately create more and more friends in the dance community toward same-gender couples, not only as dancers, but as individuals. Attention which also may ultimately help to promote our cause against the gross discrimination and inconsideration that has been shown and continues to be shown toward the LGBT community in this country today.
Terry considers himself to be an ardent gay activist. Not in the courts or at the end of a picket sign, but rather by making friends and gaining support for same-gender couples "OUT OnThe Dance Floor". Terry has personally experienced incredibly positive reactions from numerous members of the non-LGBT dance community during some major Ballroom, Latin, Swing and Country/Western dance events over the years by attending and dancing with other male dance partners. And in every case the positive feedback and results of such experiences far outweighed the few negative incidences and remarks that took place. After all, how can even the most outspoken bigots make condescending, negative remarks about a group of people who far out-perform them in their abilities and role-changing tactics without their looking like "sour grapes"? The fact is that they cannot. And if they do, they set themselves up for criticism from their very own peers. Terry has witnessed such incidences on many occasions and the changing of opinions toward the gay dancers has always been positive. Which can do nothing but help in the long run when those people ultimately go to the polls to decide the fate and rights of our community.
Terry is also one of the founding members of the recently organized "Dance Team DC'. Dance Team DC is an affiliate of the DC Council of Sports ("Team DC"...visit www.TeamDC.org). The primary goal of "Dance Team DC" is to help prepare LGBT dancers in the Baltimore/Washington DC Metropolitan area for social dancing locally, as well as social and competitive dancing in any one or all of the Ballroom, Country/Western, Latin and Swing DanceSport events during Gay Games Chicago, 2006 and the 1st World Outgames Montreal, 2006. This also includes assisting and preparing potential seeing and hearing impaired dancers, as well as wheel chair dancers, for which there is a separate dance competition division during both major events (we would LOVE to take a team of wheel chair dancers to the competitions!...if you're in a wheel chair and you don't have a dancing able-bodied partner, call us. We'll find you one!). Terry continues to bring home the fact that as in years past, it is estimated that over 70% of those competing at both of these major events will be in the BEGINNER levels, so no one should hesitate to participate just because they're new to dancing. The web site for Dance Team DC is www.DanceTeamDC.us. Terry is also more recently committed through is expertise in DanceSport and social dancing of all varieties to promoting open and unrestricted Gay Dancing by same-gender couples through different charitable fund raising events for both the LGBT and non-LGBT communities. Something which along with dancing as same-gender couples in public in general he feels is important for all of us to become more involved in to offset the negative images that the anti-LGBT bigots love to portray about this community every chance they get (visit www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com/gmyopinion.htm#GrassRootsGayActivism as well as www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net for upcoming charitable dance events involving both the LGBT and non-LGBT communities).
In addition to teaching at The Chevy Chase Ballroom & DanceSport Center, 5207 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington DC (at Harrison & Wisconsin Ave - Friendship Heights red line Metro), Terry also teaches at The YMCA, National Capital at 1711 Rhode Island Ave., NW (Farragut North & Dupont Circle red line Metro). Besides conducting classes in all of the Ballroom, Latin, Tango, Salsa, Hustle, Country Western and Swing dances, Terry and his associates are also available for private coaching, teaching at private social events, providing music and mini-classes for dance or corporate events and teaching for wedding couples or those preparing to attend weddings or Bar/Bat Mitzvah's. He has also been involved in numerous dance-oriented fund-raising efforts for non-profit organizations and considers such events terrific opportunities to help promote the sport of dance to people of all persuasions. Terry can be reached at 202-462-0870 or TerryChasteen@hotmail.com, or you may visit his web sites at www.GayDanceSPORT.com and www.InternationalDanceSPORTcompany.com (www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com).

Terry Chasteen
TerryChasteen@hotmail.com
202-462-0870
www.GayDanceSPORT.com (www.LambdaDanceSPORT.org)
www.DanceTeamDC.us (www.OUTonTheDanceFloor.net)
www.PleaseDanceWithMe.com

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Q. Black History Month - February 2007


...Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

Though the great performers of yester-year were considered to be such dance icons as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Danny Kaye, none of them (...in MY opinion...) compared to two of the really great artists that so many Americans often never even heard of. And why? Because they were black.
To this day after 58 years of watching more dance performances and movies than Carter has little liver pills (some of you may be too young to understand that comparison), not a one of them can come close to the performances of the unbelievable black brother duo, The Nicholas Brothers, Harold and Fayard. There's too much incredible material available to even begin including it all here, but please do yourself a favor and visit www.NicholasBrothers.com for their incredible story. Believe it or not but the photos don't come close to their actual performances. If you get a chance, be sure to actually see their movies.

The Nicholas Brothers have headlined shows all over the world. They have appeared in every major television show, nightclub and theater in America and performed for the troops in Viet Nam in 1965.
They've received many tributes and awards, which include: A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, The Kennedy Center Honors, and an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University. They are also proud of the some of students they have taught, including Debbie Allen, Janet Jackson, and Michael Jackson. Had they been born much later when discrimination wasn't nearly as prevalent as back then (thank God for that, though we still have a LONG way to go to eliminate discrimination completely in this country...), their talents would have been even more recognized as actual headlining stars of the Silver Screen as opposed to back-up performers. They are true pioneers in black entertainment and remain second to none in the world of show business.

PLUS...

Frankie Manning
The Ambassador of Lindy Hop

Mr. Manning was born in 1914 in Jacksonville, Fla. At age 3, he moved to Harlem with his mother, who was a dancer. He grew up in the Swing Era and became part of its history by dancing to the music of the 1930s and 1940s.

The name Lindy Hop emerged shortly after Charles Lindbergh completed his trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. Shorty Snowden, a dancer at the time, coined the phrase during a dance marathon in Manhattan. It was later at the Savoy Ballroom's weekly dance contests that Snowden's style of Lindy Hop, in which the body is held upright as the dancer executes intricate footwork, was soon overshadowed by Mr. Manning's more acrobatic style.

In 1934 Mr. Manning was a dancer and the chief choreographer for the original "Whitey's Lindy Hoppers," the professional troupe organized by Herbert "Whitey" White, a bouncer at the Savoy Ballroom. Mr. Manning also performed in several films, including the Marx Brothers' "A Day at the Races" in 1937 and "Hellzapoppin'," before touring the world with jazz artists Ethel Waters, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Cab Calloway.

While dancing in London in 1937, Mr. Manning gave a command performance for King George VI. By 1943 a Life magazine cover story proclaimed the Lindy Hop as "America's national dance" and "this country's only native and original dance form" except for tap dancing.

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers disbanded during World War II, and Mr. Manning joined the U.S. Army. But upon his release in 1947, Mr. Manning formed his own dance troupe, "The Congaroos Dancers." They appeared on the "Milton Berle Show," and toured with Nat "King" Cole, Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Martha Raye and Sammy Davis Jr.

As popular taste turned to rock 'n' roll in the 1950s, Mr. Manning settled down to family life. A revival of swing dancing in the mid- 1980s sparked a renewed interest, which has sent Mr. Manning throughout the world once again, leading workshops and lectures and developing choreography for groups such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Rhythm Hot Shot of Sweden.

Among national recognitions he has received, Mr. Manning was profiled on the ABC prime-time news program, "20/20"; he received a Tony Award for best choreography in the Broadway hit musical "Black and Blue"; and choreographed "Stompin' at the Savoy," an NBC made-for-television movie directed by Debbie Allen. Recently, he was involved in the two- part TV film on American social dancing called "Gotta Dance!"

 

(1914 - ) Dancer and Choreographer

No one has contributed more to the Lindy Hop than Frankie Manning. As a dancer, innovator, and choreographer, he has been an unofficial "Ambassador of Lindy Hop," spreading its popularity through three continents while touring with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers in the 1930s and 40s, and again teaching, choreographing, and performing in the Lindy Hop revival of the 1980s and '90s.

Manning started dancing in his early teens at a Sunday afternoon dance at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem to the music of Vernon Andrade. From there he moved to the Rennaissance Ballroom, which had an early evening dance for older teens with the live swing music of the Claude Hopkins Orchestra. Finally, Manning "graduated" to the Savoy Ballroom, which was known for its great dancers and bands. Manning, competitive and gifted, became a star in the informal jams in the "Kat's Korner" of the Savoy and frequently won the Saturday night contests. He was invited to join the elite 400 Club, whose members could come to the Savoy Ballroom during daytime hours to practice alongside the bands that were booked there.

Manning was inspired by first-generation Lindy Hoppers George "Shorty" Snowden and Leroy "Stretch" Jones. However, in order to beat these two great dancers in the intense competitions held at the Savoy Ballroom, he developed his own unique style, and his dancing stood out for its unerring musicality. Fast on his feet and with a keen ear, Manning gave physical expression to the beat, the feel, and the excitement of the swing sound played by the great big bands. He is responsible for many innovations of Lindy Hop step and style, including dancing at a sharp angle to the ground like a track-runner, instead of in the upright, stiff ballroom position of his predecessors. In a famous competition, Manning astonished the crowd of 2000 with the first Lindy aerial step ever done.

In 1935, when Herbert White brought together the top Savoy Ballroom Dancers into a professional performance group to be called Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, Manning created the first ensemble Lindy Hop routines. This gave him an opportunity to expand upon his gift for transforming the swing music into exciting dance-movement patterns. When Whitey's Lindy Hoppers were in their heyday, Manning was the chief choreographer, serving as what we today would call artistic director, while Whitey was business manager.

He has toured with jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and others. He performed in several films, including Everybody Sings with Judy Garland and Hellzapoppin'. More recently, he was the dance consultant for and danced in Spike Lee's film Malcolm X. Frankie's fabulous dancing and radiant smile have inspired generations of Lindy Hop enthusiasts, but he modestly claims, "I'm not interested in fame and glory. It's just that I would like others to know what a happy dance this is."

...But then that's just my opinion....

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T. Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

The discriminatory remarks by the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace were are not only inappropriate but also damaging to the morale and productivity of the thousands of gay and lesbian service members who are both presently in and planning to join the U Armed Forces... .

This week I sent an Email to about 1,000 thousand fellow LGBT dancers after hearing the infamous condescending and inappropriate remarks by our Chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace about his personal belief in the "Imorality" of homoexuality and his resulting belief in "Don't ask, Don't tell" for the thousands of LGBT personnel who continually put their lives on the line as does everyone else in the US Armed Forces. The email encouraged everyone to write to Washington DC's Channel 4 at nbc4Connected@NBC4.com who immediately asked for opinions on a poll about the quetionably approprate remark to make it obvious at least on that one TV poll that many in this country are not one bit happy.
I think General Pace is going to (and actually already has) take a lot of flack from this, including from his superiors by the announcement that I saw on the news by days end for this blatant discriminatoty remark. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that Pace's remarks on his opinion about "immorality regarding sex for same-gender couples" was inappropriate. "Personal opinion really doesn't have a place here.
The media really gave that remark a TON of attention and I can't imagine being one of the thousands of LGBT military personnell now on active duty and having to tolerate such a blatant, condescending, discriminatory remark from your superior officer whom you are supposed to depend upon for support. For their sake, I would like to see the man removed from his position like the rest of the incompetent individuals that are finally being exposed in this God-awful administration. You can't really admonish him and leave him in charge as it would affect his effectiveness in such a high position, but his effectiveness is compromised anyway. So my vote is to send him down the same road as so many of those of the Bush administration are going...right along with Gonzales.
I have to say, however that I am actually pleased that all of this came along at this time because the news media has repeatedly indicated how inappropriate it was, hopefully making repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) even that much more attainable. It gave several reputable gay military retirees, including several retired Generals and Eric a spring board from which to get their opinions out there on DADT. Consequently I believe it was strategically and in a roundabout way a very good thing for the LGBT community at this time. We just need to keep the momentum going and take as much advantage of such a thoughtless blunder as possible. My honest feeling is that General Pace helped to cook his own discriminating goose and that good may come from it after all.

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U. Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

I. The discriminatory remarks by the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace were are not only inappropriate but also damaging to the morale and productivity of the thousands of gay and lesbian service members who are both presently in and planning to join the United States Armed Forces... .

This week many in this country were blown away after hearing the infamous condescending and inappropriate remarks by our Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace about his personal belief in the "imorality" of homoexuality and his resulting belief in "Don't ask, Don't tell" for the thousands of LGBT personnel who continually put their lives on the line right along with everyone else in the US Armed Forces.
General Pace is going to take (and actually already has taken) considerable flack from this, including from his superiors by the announcement on the news before days end for this blatant discriminatoty remark. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that Pace's remarks regarding his judgement of "the immorality regarding homosexuality" was inappropriate. "Personal judgement really doesn't have a place here" remarked Defense Secretary Gates even though he conceded that a law is a law and is to be upheld as long as it is a law (another important topic within itself "to-be-conidered...").
The media really gave the remarks a TON of attention and I can't imagine being one of the thousands of LGBT military personnel now on active duty and having to tolerate such a blatant, insensitive opinion from your superior officer whom you are supposed to depend upon for support.
Though I am not in the habit of bringing down the gavel on anyone for any single mistake (God only knows we all make them), in this situation my honest opinion is that there is no place for such obvious discrimination and bigotry where the most influential and powerful position of the United States Armed forces is concerned. This isn't like simple gossip in the local barber shop or town diner. This is about a worldwide expression of disgust (and one can call the General's remarks whatever they wish, but the obvious reaction by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff toward lesbian and gay people, service members or not, is inconsideration and disgust) toward approximately 65,000 lesbian and gay US Service Members that he felt comfortable speaking against openly for a publication; making all of those people who are working for him and and for the safety of all Americans that much more susceptable to redicule and copy-cat disdain from others within and outside of the military.
I'm sure General Pace regrets making these inappropriate comments publicly by now (you might compare them to the regrets of former Enron CEO's Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling after their indictments, but only because they were caught), if for no other reason than the overwhelming negative backlash from the media country-wide. Nonetheless he is still unwilling to apologize or express any regret for making them in spite of the displeasure toward his inappropriate remarks by so many. For the sake of those who are in and must remain loyal to the armed forces that need to be devoted to the government and military hierarchy to fulfill their duties and who must feel confident that support in their profession will go in both directions, I would personally like to see the man removed from this position. It's hard to reprove him and still leave him in charge as it would impact his effectiveness in such a high position, but his effectiveness after all of this in my opinion has been compromised anyway. I wonder how he and the powers-that-be would feel if the approximately 65,000 lesbian and gay service members just decided to throw in the towel over the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and resign after such blatant chastizing.
For me personally it's difficult to once again show respect for people like Sienfeld's Kramer, Michael Richards after his infamous bigoted remarks in public or Isaiah Washington of Grey's Anatomy, neither of whom I would ever again be compelled to go out of my way to watch or show any interest in their characters or opinions after witnessing such disclosing remarks about their personal feelings toward members of society who are different than they are. I would never go out of my way or even avoid turning the channel on Michael Richards after his recent bigoted outburst and I find myself subconsciously indifferent toward the character of Isaiah Washington on Grey's Anatomy as much as I still very much enjoy the show. I feel totally apathetic toward anyting that is character does on set because all I can subconsciously picture in my mind is someone who is in real life a bigot. I can always turn off the TV in those situations, but having that mentality as a major part of our military creates a more difficult problem.
It doesn't matter what community such bigotry is expressed toward. Most of us would be just as disdainful toward those who express such condescending remarks against Jewish, Hispanic, African American, Asian; it's bigotry, nonetheless. And it affects how people treat and show fairness toward others and it should not be a part of the make-up of one of the most influential and powerful individuals in the US Armed Forces whose decisions may impact so many people. There are serious considerations for future promotions and demotions and assignments involved and one who is ready, willing and able to openly criticize and judge those involved by whoever they show their affections toward is in my opinion unfit for such a high-profile position. Regardless of how General Pace's religious beliefs continue to be his right, and they are, the Separation of Church and State when expressing them as part of our government was introduced by our forefathers for a purpose. And interpretations of "The Bible" or "The Torah" or "The Coran" or any other books of religion are not an appropriate excuse for discriminating against any segment of society. In spite of the interpretations of immorality of the Bible toward homosexuality that General Pace believes in, that's a religious evaluation and not sared by all should by law have no place in his position as a servant of "everyone" in the US Government, not just his chosen few.
So in spite of the fact that no one else is calling for it to date, my opinion is that too much is at stake for fairness and equality in such a high profile position and my vote is to send him down the same road as so many of those in the government are already going. Like the rest of the self-serving individuals that are finally being exposed in this God-awful administration, right along with Rumsfeld and hopefully soon Rove and Gonzales and even the rediculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which is simply another wedge isue to "Divide and Conquer" and by labeling another segment of our society as second class citizens.
In spite of all of this negativity, however, I have to say that I am actually pleased that all of this came along at this time because the news media has repeatedly indicated how inappropriate it was, hopefully making repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) even that much more attainable. It gave several reputable gay military retirees, including several retired Generals and Eric a spring board from which to get their opinions out there on DADT. Consequently I believe it was strategically and in a roundabout way a very good thing for the LGBT community at this time. We just need to keep the momentum going and take as much advantage of such a thoughtless blunder as possible. My honest feeling is that General Pace helped to cook his own discriminating goose and that good may come from it after all.

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U. A Sharp Drop in Gays Discharged From Military Tied to War Need

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 14, 2007; Page A03

The number of homosexuals discharged from the U.S. military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy dropped significantly in 2006, according to Pentagon figures released yesterday -- continuing a sharp decline since the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts began and leading critics to charge that the military is retaining gay men and lesbians because it needs them in a time of war.

According to preliminary Pentagon data, 612 homosexuals were discharged in fiscal 2006, fewer than half the 1,227 discharged in 2001. On average, more than 1,000 service members were discharged each year from 1997 to 2001 -- but in the past five years the average has fallen below 730. The data were provided to The Washington Post in response to a request.

"It is hypocritical that the Pentagon seems to retain gay and lesbian service members when they need them most, and fires them when it believes they are expendable," said Steve E. Ralls, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit that opposes the policy.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sparked an outcry among gay-advocacy groups on Monday when he said he considers homosexual acts "immoral" and therefore opposes lifting the "don't ask, don't tell" rule and allowing homosexuals to serve openly. "We should not condone immoral acts," Pace told the Chicago Tribune in an interview.

Yesterday, Pace said it would have been better to refrain from offering opinions. "I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views," he said in a statement, noting that the policy itself "does not make a judgment about the morality of individual acts."

President Bush "thought it was appropriate" for Pace to qualify his remarks, presidential counselor Dan Bartlett said yesterday. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also suggested yesterday that Pace's "immoral" remark was inappropriate. "Personal opinion really doesn't have a place here. What's important is that we have a law, a statute that governs 'don't ask, don't tell,' " Gates said when asked about his own views on the policy during an interview with the Pentagon Channel.

Pace drew fire yesterday from congressional Democrats, who have recently renewed a push to repeal the policy, as well as from some Republicans and gay-advocacy groups.

"General Pace's statements aren't in line with either the majority of the public or the military," said Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.), who last month reintroduced legislation that would repeal the policy on grounds that it is unfair, expensive and harmful to military readiness. "We are turning away good troops to enforce a costly policy of discrimination," he said in a statement. Meehan's legislation has more than 100 co-sponsors and is supported by several prominent retired generals, including a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) said in a statement yesterday: "I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the Chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral."

More than 10,870 military personnel have been discharged under the policy since President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1993. The law requires that gay service members keep their sexual orientation private and do not engage in homosexual acts, and it prohibits commanders from asking about sexual orientation.

The dismissed have included Arabic speakers and other linguists, intelligence experts and medical personnel -- all of whom are in short supply. In 2005, for example, 49 medical workers were discharged.

"The military can't afford to lose these people, dozens and dozens of well-trained men and women who would ordinarily be doing their job," Ralls said. He said the reduction in discharges since 2001 indicates that the military is applying its policy selectively now because the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have lowered support for joining the military among youths and their parents.

There are an estimated 65,000 gay men and lesbians serving in the military today, according to census-based research by the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, Ralls said.

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A Sharp Drop in Gays Discharged From Military Tied to War Need

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 14, 2007; Page A03

The number of homosexuals discharged from the U.S. military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy dropped significantly in 2006, according to Pentagon figures released yesterday -- continuing a sharp decline since the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts began and leading critics to charge that the military is retaining gay men and lesbians because it needs them in a time of war.

According to preliminary Pentagon data, 612 homosexuals were discharged in fiscal 2006, fewer than half the 1,227 discharged in 2001. On average, more than 1,000 service members were discharged each year from 1997 to 2001 -- but in the past five years the average has fallen below 730. The data were provided to The Washington Post in response to a request.

"It is hypocritical that the Pentagon seems to retain gay and lesbian service members when they need them most, and fires them when it believes they are expendable," said Steve E. Ralls, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit that opposes the policy.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sparked an outcry among gay-advocacy groups on Monday when he said he considers homosexual acts "immoral" and therefore opposes lifting the "don't ask, don't tell" rule and allowing homosexuals to serve openly. "We should not condone immoral acts," Pace told the Chicago Tribune in an interview.

Yesterday, Pace said it would have been better to refrain from offering opinions. "I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views," he said in a statement, noting that the policy itself "does not make a judgment about the morality of individual acts."

President Bush "thought it was appropriate" for Pace to qualify his remarks, presidential counselor Dan Bartlett said yesterday. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also suggested yesterday that Pace's "immoral" remark was inappropriate. "Personal opinion really doesn't have a place here. What's important is that we have a law, a statute that governs 'don't ask, don't tell,' " Gates said when asked about his own views on the policy during an interview with the Pentagon Channel.

Pace drew fire yesterday from congressional Democrats, who have recently renewed a push to repeal the policy, as well as from some Republicans and gay-advocacy groups.

"General Pace's statements aren't in line with either the majority of the public or the military," said Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.), who last month reintroduced legislation that would repeal the policy on grounds that it is unfair, expensive and harmful to military readiness. "We are turning away good troops to enforce a costly policy of discrimination," he said in a statement. Meehan's legislation has more than 100 co-sponsors and is supported by several prominent retired generals, including a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) said in a statement yesterday: "I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the Chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral."

More than 10,870 military personnel have been discharged under the policy since President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1993. The law requires that gay service members keep their sexual orientation private and do not engage in homosexual acts, and it prohibits commanders from asking about sexual orientation.

The dismissed have included Arabic speakers and other linguists, intelligence experts and medical personnel -- all of whom are in short supply. In 2005, for example, 49 medical workers were discharged.

"The military can't afford to lose these people, dozens and dozens of well-trained men and women who would ordinarily be doing their job," Ralls said. He said the reduction in discharges since 2001 indicates that the military is applying its policy selectively now because the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have lowered support for joining the military among youths and their parents.

There are an estimated 65,000 gay men and lesbians serving in the military today, according to census-based research by the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, Ralls said.

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V. ...Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...

An overdue Congressional Gold Medal salute to the Tuskegee Air Men
Congratulations at long last to the incomparable service by The Tuskegee Air Men who
received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal on March 29th, 2007.



Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT...
The Tuskegee Air Men received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal on March 29th, 2007.... though to be perfectly honest, this unequaled award for bravery, professionalism, heroism, public service and valor is only about 60 years too late.
There aren't enough synonyms in any thesaurus to describe the courage that this small group of black Americans showed during World War II for the benefit of not just America but for the world. And I'm sorry to have to put a negative stamp on such a wonderful and notable honor, but ladies and gentlemen, this award has been MUCH TOO LONG OVERDUE... I am personaly not, nor will I ever be good in politics as I am unlike most politicians, compeled to call a spade a spade, despite the consequences... and though better late than never, it amazes me that it took almost 60 years to right this one of far too many acts of bigotry and hatefulness that were practiced and considered acceptable for far too many years and by far too many "notable individuals" in this country's history. And regretably those of us who are white Americans (and particularly those of us who are white male Americans) all continue to bear the burden of those actions.
Almost 60 years after they flew their missions over Europe and North Africa, the Tuskegee Airmen – blacks who fought prejudice while compiling an amazing record for destroying enemy aircraft and successfully escorting bombers during World War II – received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, in the Capitol Rotunda on March 29, 2007.
Sgt. Jesse Rutledge, of Detroit, said the recognition is a long time coming — and comes far too late for many of the airmen who already have died. “That was almost 60 years ago,” said Rutledge, 84, who moved to Detroit after training as a bomber gunner. Shortly before the ceremony took place, he recalled the incredible acts of prejudice that all of the airmen continued to face on a daily basis in this country for years to come, in spite of their invaluable service to all of America and to the world as a whole.
At one time it was even claimed that the Bible supported the discriminatory acts of slavery and second class treatment toward certain people, serving mainly the financial and personal benefit of the chosen few who promoted those claims. And there are still those who in more ways than one continue to promote such bigotry and discrimination even today for those same personal gains. They need to be stopped or we will all continue to be at fault and forced to bear that burden of blame through our own inaction. We cannot sit back and direct fault toward others for such prejudices if we refuse to make our opinions known without the least reservation that we are against bigotry, discrimination and unequal treatment under any circumstances and toward any group of people, including African-American, Asian, Jewish, Hispanic, gay & lesbian, Islamic and Muslom, women, immigrants or any other faction of human beings. And when we do sit back in silence or pick and choose who we can discriminate against, we are no less guilty than they.
As US citizens there is no way for us to control how other countries treat their minorities and those people who are not in positions of power and influence. But we can at least set an example in America by demanding fair treatment for all of our own fellow citizens. In far too many instances however, both publicly and in our personal lives, we continue missing the boat in doing so, even today..... but then THAT IS JUST MY OPINION...

SPECIAL NOTE: The recent remark by shock jock Don Imus about the Rutger's University women's basketball team is just one more blatant and grossly discriminatory incident by those who continue to think nothing about going through life judging and legitimizing such condescending and destructive remarks and actions toward other fellow human beings. It's just another example of how the ugly head of discrimination after all of these years is still alive and well. Whether it's the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff making degrading remarks about the lesbian and gay soldiers who daily risk their lives in the military, the genocide taking place by the Janjeweed in Darfour while the world continues to sleep through it all or those in the public media like Don Imus who have in the past and continue to show little respect and consideration for anyone different than they are, the blatant and degrading actions and remarks of these people need to be designated in no uncertain terms that they are NOT going to be accepted and overlooked. It is up to all of us to demand that any such inexcusable acts come to an end. And once again, if we each sit back in silence without expressing our disgust toward any such activities, we are all no less guilty than they.....

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W. July 4th, 2007...WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE...FOR ALL?...


WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL...THAT MEANS FOR "EVERYONE"...NOT JUST FOR A SELECT FEW DESIGNATED BY A SELECT FEW. THE TIME IS LONG OVER DUE TO SEND "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" AND EVERY SIMILAR FORM OF BIGOTRY AND DISCRIMINATION BEING PROMOTED IN THE NAME OF THE BIBLE AND OUR LOVING GOD, DOWN THE SAME PATH AS SLAVERY, SEPARATE DRINKING FOUNTAINS & REST ROOMS, RIDING IN THE BACK OF THE BUS AND ANY OTHER BIGOTED PRACTICES THAT HAVE BLEMISHED THIS COUNTRY'S HISTORY FROM THE ONSET. ALL OF WHICH, BY THE WAY, WERE ALSO AT ONE TIME SUPPOSEDLY JUSTIFIED BY THE BIBLE AND IN THE NAME OF OUR LOVING GOD...
....BUT THEN THAT IS JUST MY LGBT OPINION...

 

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"So, whatever you want to do, just do it....Making a damn fool of yourself is
absolutely essential." -- Gloria Steinem

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We're not here for a long time, we're here for a GOOD TIME!
So let's get started...and DANCE!!!

Whether it's from watching
"America's Ballroom Challenge"
on PBS,


"So you Think You Can Dance"
on FOX,

"Dancing with the Stars"
on ABC,

Dancin with the Stars graphic


or just the recent
"Allignment-of-the-stars"
within our solar system,

Washington DC
is definitely becoming a city of
BALLROOM, LATIN, TANGO & SWING DANCING!

Isn't it time to "STOP WATCHING" all the fun....and "START HAVING IT"?!!

 

SPECIAL DANCE-&-LEARN PARTY FUNDRAISER AND SILENT AUCTION FOR CHERYL SPECTOR WILL CONTINUE INTO JULY & AUGUST. SO IF YOU COULDN'T JOIN US ON THE LAST SATURDAY OF THE MONTH, THERE'S STILL TIME TO HELP OUT AND EXPERIENCE A NON-STOP EVENING OF MUSIC, PERFORMANCES, "DANCING WITH THE AC/DC STARS" MINI-COMPETITIONS, MINI-DANCE CLASSES AND GENERAL BALLROOM, LATIN, SALSA, HUSTLE, TANGO, SWING AND C/W DANCING WELL INTO THE NIGHT...NO PREVIOUS DANCE EXPERIENCE OR PARTNER REQUIRED.

Join us Out On The Dance Floor!! to learn and perfect what could become one of the most effective forms of grass roots gay activism available to us today.

July 28th & August 25th Cheryl Spector Dance-&-Learn fund raiser PLUS Team DC Night OUT at the Nationals on Monday, July 16, 2007 7:05 p.m. vs. the Houston Astros at RFK Stadium. Arrive by 6:40 p.m. to hear the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington perform the National Anthem.

Lambda DanceSPORT DC
Visit www.LambdaDanceSportNews.com, www.LambdaDanceSportDC.org or www.GayDanceSPORT.com for details on the above as well as information about social and competitive DanceSport for same-gender couples across the US and around the globe.


Hopefully we'll see many of you as always after the fireworks out two stepping and dancing all of our Ballroom, Latin, Salsa & Swing to country music at Remington's.

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X. Dance partner search...sorry I can't be more helpful but "If it is to be, it is up to thee". We all have to make ourselves look worth someone's efforts to train with us.

Y. Too many problems in your life?...maybe here's the answer...
It's All Because (The Gays Are Getting Married)

 

 

2. Also,...Nobody asked for their opinions either...BUT...

A complement from The Netherlands...
Hi, Terry,

I don´t know if this website is yours, but I saw your e-mail adress at www.LambdaDanceSport.org and I just wanted to say what a great website it is! My name is Michel from the Netherlands. I´ve danced for a few years samesex-competitions in Europe. I´ve stopped now, but I´m still helping equalitydance with their dancemagazine! Have you ever been to Holland?

Take Care.

greetings,
Michel

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B. A complement from DC.
"I'll get you my pretty!....and your little dog too"!
Terry that is so hysterical - this is a famous line in my family! I was so surprised to see it on your photo site which is spectacular by the way- all my favorites.

Melissa from DC

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C. A complement from Florida...
I really appreciate you putting your feelers out there for me and others like me. This is a great thing your doing. Keep up the great work. Thanks again.

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D. A complement from the Miss Adams Morgan Pageant...

Terry,
Did you choreograph "Last Dance" at Miss Adams Morgan? I saw you on stage posing for photos with the dancer. I just wanted to let you know how brilliant I though the performance was. You created wonderful created wonderful disco energy--the best number in the show!

Steven
=====
Steven Reichert
"Thanks, Steve...I thought it was pretty fun, myself..."

Quotes regarding discrimination by John F. Kennedy...

"All this will not be finished in the first hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin".

"There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction".

"We stand for freedom. That is our conviction for ourselves; that is our only commitment to others".

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future."
- John F. Kennedy

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Following is a report that I feel we should all see over and over again by Matthew Hennie and Lou Chibbaro Jr. of the Washington Blade.

E. Blacks struggle over gay marriage ban
Church leaders outspoken in favor of measure, while lawmakers oppose it

The same institution that was a leading force behind the struggle of African Americans for civil rights in the 1960s — the black church — is now on the front lines of another movement for social justice. But in this fight, some black church leaders are among the most outspoken supporters of proposed federal and state constitutional amendments that would ban gay marriage.
Some black ministers and politicians also criticize gay activists and their supporters for comparing the struggle for marriage equality to the historic civil rights movement. “I don’t see [marriage for gays] as a basic civil right,” said Rev. D.L. Foster, a pastor at Restoration Church, an African American congregation outside Atlanta. “We discriminate in this country in a lot of ways, and all discrimination isn’t bad discrimination,” he said. “I think [the gay marriage ban] is a form of good discrimination
because we have to determine what is good for the nation, and what is bad for the nation,” said Foster, who says he was gay for 11 years.

In Washington, Mayor Anthony Williams is deliberating over whether to release a legal opinion by his Corporation Counsel that sources believe calls on the city to recognize gay marriages issued in Massachusetts, based on an interpretation of D.C. law. Although leaders of the city’s black churches have been relatively quiet about the gay marriage issue so far, veteran D.C. gay activist Phil Pannell said black ministers would speak out loudly against same-sex marriage if the mayor were to announce D.C. would recognize such marriages from other states. “I would say 98 percent to 99 percent of the black ministers in this
city are against gay marriage,” said Pannell, a recognized leader in the African-American civil rights movement. “I can’t think of any mainline minister of a black church in this city who is not against gay marriage,” he said. Among the most prominent of the D.C. ministers backing a constitutional ban on gay marriage is Rev. Walter Fauntroy, the former D.C. congressional
delegate. Fauntroy is among the leaders of a coalition of religious and secular gruops organizing the campaign for the Federal Marriage Amendment, the proposed constitutional amendment seeking to ban same-sex marriage that is expected to reach the Senate floor this summer. At least four mostly gay African-American congregations in D.C. are expected to fight efforts to ban same-sex marriage. But activists acknowledge that they will be up against great odds, with just a few socially progressive
black churches expected to join them in supporting same-sex marriage rights.

The Traditional Values Coalition held a meeting with more than 50 black pastors from around the country on May 17, according to the Washington Times. They denounced efforts to claim the same-sex marriage battles are part of the civil rights movement and said they would call on the Congressional Black Caucus to support a constitutional amendement to ban gay
marriage. Black gay men and lesbians leading the fight for marriage equality said they are disheartened and disgusted by the apparent ease with which some black leaders embrace what they call discrimination. “They don’t realize they’re discriminating against their own people,” said Jasmyne Cannick, media director for the National Black Justice Coalition, a New York-based ad-hoc group of blacks fighting for same-sex marriage. “When many black people hear about anything gay, the first thing that
comes to their mind is sex, sex, sex, sex; they’re not thinking about the rights that are at stake with this issue,” Cannick said.
With proposed gay marriage bans now headed to the Nov. 2 ballot in six states, advocates on both sides expect African-American churches to be instrumental in framing the debate for black voters. Cannick said she can’t help but laugh at the irony of black churches leading the fight against same-sex marriage, since gay black men are among the most devoted churchgoers.
“Behind every good choir and in every pew, there’s black gay folks listening to themselves being demeaned and invalidated,” Cannick said. “That’s why it’s important that we get black gay and lesbian individuals to speak out, come out and stand up for their own rights.”

Pivotal role of black lawmakers
Black legislators can play a pivotal role in close votes on gay marriage bans. In Georgia, for example, black legislators overwhelmingly opposed a proposed amendment to that state’s constitution that would prohibit gay marriage. All 10 black senators voted against the amendment. But in the House, four black legislators supported the gay marriage ban, giving the measure two votes more than it needed to pass. A group of some 30 black ministers rallying in support of the amendment during the time between the two House votes likely played a factor, Foster said. “The black legislators were basically a unified group against this amendment, but because of our rallies, it was enough to persuade some middle-of-the-road black legislators to move this forward,” Foster said.

Two of the black legislators who voted for the amendment — state Reps. Sharon Beasley-Teague (D-Fairburn) and Randal Mangham (D-Stone Mountain) — said their decision was based on religious beliefs. During a conversation with Beasley-Teague before the Georgia House vote, a gay constituent asked her what she sees when she looks at gay and lesbian
people.

“I don’t see God,” Beasley-Teague replied. “For this to be about discrimination I need to know more about you than I care to know. This is about a basic separation of standards.”

Civil rights issue?
Similar to Mangham and Beasley-Teague, black voters will likely view the gay marriage debate through a religious lens, not as a civil rights issue, Cannick said. “I think a lot of African-Americans have a hard time separating church and state,” Cannick said. “That’s the biggest obstacle we face in getting people to realize this is a civil issue, and a civil rights issue.” Opponents of the amendment have noted that religion was also used to justify past forms of discrimination, including slavery, segregation and the subordination of women. Seeing black leaders siding with religious conservatives and the Christian Coalition of Georgia is especially baffling, Cannick said. “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous,” she said. “Do you really want to align yourself with people who have historically discriminated against you too?”

As evidence of what she calls “twisted thinking” among some black leaders, Cannick points to the statements by Rev. Gregory Daniels, a black Chicago minister. “If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them,” Daniels told the New York Times. Mangham said he deliberated about siding with religious conservatives and decided it was the right thing to do when it concerned gay marriage. “Even a [broke] clock is right twice a day,” Mangham said. “If you say some of these other groups with far-out views are agreeing with my position, that’s great. But it’s not a matter of me joining with someone else, it’s a matter of what is viewed as the right view for the right time.”

Matthew Hennie and Lou Chibbaro Jr. of the Washington Blade jointly contributed to this report.

Lchibbarro@washblade.com, MHennie@sovo.com, www.WashBlade.com

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F. 'WE COULD DANCE TOGETHER AT GAY BARS. BUT TAKING LESSONS? BALLROOM LESSONS? IMPOSSIBLE.' November 1, 2002


Karen Peper, 46, a clinical psychologist, and Sue Gerrity, 50, a screenwriter,
Royal Oak: ballroom dancing

As a kid, Sue Gerrity was smitten with ballroom dancing. The hypnotic swirl of the gowns, couples covering impossible distances across the floor. But as a lesbian, it seemed that the magic of ballroom was unattainable. "We could dance together at gay bars. But taking lessons? Ballroom lessons? Impossible."

In 1994, though, Gerrity and her partner, Karen Peper, saw the dance competition at Gay Games IV in New York. And there it was. Men with men, women with women, whirling around the floor of the venerable Roseland Ballroom. "The thing I had always wanted to do -- those people were out there doing it."

They returned home and found a teacher: Suzy Brecht, who now teaches a same-sex couples class at Bloomfield Hills' Rhythm & Shoes studio. "The experience has been amazing," says Peper. "Being out and being challenged and doing something we thought we would never be able to do -- the journey has been worth it, whether we come home with medal or not."

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G. Gay Ballroom Dancing on ABC TV
Sydney Star Observer, Issue 711 Published 29/04/2004

By Stacy Farrar

Like figure skating and women’s golf, ballroom dancing is not a sport where you’d be surprised if someone announced they were gay. Whatever anyone says about dangerous stereotypes, gay men are known for their moves on dancefloors all over the world, and this translates into the professional movers.

The ABC’s Strictly Dancing is a prime-time attempt to capture the camp glory that is competitive dance. Each week, four couples take to the floor in a battle of sequins and style. The partners compete in some of a range of dances – salsa, lambada, jazz, hip-hop, rumba, paso doble, Argentinian tango, cha cha and jive.

Despite the show’s inherent campness, until this week it’s been a fairly heterosexual affair. Yes, a few girl-on-girl couples have competed in the heats without success but there has been no man-on-man ballroom.

But in this week’s show Gay Games gold medallists Darryl Davenport and Paul Crook are going to show exactly what two men can do with each other on a dancefloor.

Both men are part-time dance instructors in Perth and fans of the show.

“I like the fact that it’s short, it’s in your face, I like the comments. I loved the episode where Adrian won and then kissed his boyfriend, and it was shown on TV,” Davenport says.

In previous episodes, dance teams with two women have been criticised for not following the rules of dance – the man leads, the woman follows. Davenport says he and Crook stick to the rules as much as their gender allows.

“I lead predominantly and we are definitely very conscious of the lead-follow relationship and showing that in the dancing. We do sometimes swap though so that Paul will lead. We change hold, so whoever is doing the traditional male hold is leading.”

Despite this adherence to tradition, Davenport says a two-man pairing brings something different to the competition.

“Hopefully we come across very strong and powerful. With a traditional couple where the lady comes across as being very feminine, we can’t do that. We’re two strong people dancing together.”

Like figure skating and women’s golf, ballroom dancing is not a sport where you’d be surprised if someone announced they were gay. Whatever anyone says about dangerous stereotypes, gay men are known for their moves on dancefloors all over the world, and this translates into the professional movers.

The ABC’s Strictly Dancing is a prime-time attempt to capture the camp glory that is competitive dance. Each week, four couples take to the floor in a battle of sequins and style. The partners compete in some of a range of dances – salsa, lambada, jazz, hip-hop, rumba, paso doble, Argentinian tango, cha cha and jive.

Despite the show’s inherent campness, until this week it’s been a fairly heterosexual affair. Yes, a few girl-on-girl couples have competed in the heats without success but there has been no man-on-man ballroom.

But in this week’s show Gay Games gold medallists Darryl Davenport and Paul Crook are going to show exactly what two men can do with each other on a dancefloor.

Both men are part-time dance instructors in Perth and fans of the show.

“I like the fact that it’s short, it’s in your face, I like the comments. I loved the episode where Adrian won and then kissed his boyfriend, and it was shown on TV,” Davenport says.

In previous episodes, dance teams with two women have been criticised for not following the rules of dance – the man leads, the woman follows. Davenport says he and Crook stick to the rules as much as their gender allows.

“I lead predominantly and we are definitely very conscious of the lead-follow relationship and showing that in the dancing. We do sometimes swap though so that Paul will lead. We change hold, so whoever is doing the traditional male hold is leading.”

Despite this adherence to tradition, Davenport says a two-man pairing brings something different to the competition.

“Hopefully we come across very strong and powerful. With a traditional couple where the lady comes across as being very feminine, we can’t do that. We’re two strong people dancing together.”

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H. Ballroom Dancing Swings Back into Style - By Jack Nichols

I well remember a time when dancing was forbidden. In mid-1950s Washington, D.C.— Saturday night after-the-bars parties then provided the one venue where "cutting the rug" was permissible. Only two infamous dance bars on America's East Coast existed–both considered illegal by Percy Policemen. In 1956 I visited one of those bars, the C'est Soir, located on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

There, in a seedy back room, a few beer-tight romantics--coupled and shuffling, clung together like frightened monkeys in the semi-darkness— stealing a few moments of fractured joy that heterosexual couples took lazily for granted.

A singular light bulb, hanging in pure ugliness on a wire in the room's center , lit up whenever unknown personages entered the bar's outer premises. The lit bulb signaled that the dancers must break stride and sit on surrounding chairs like chastened wallflowers until the bartender felt assured he wasn't serving Percy Policeman.

But it was the after-hours 1950s parties in the nation's capital where I saw gay dancing at its best. The party's address got passed around at The Chicken Hut, the Derby Room, the Redskin's Lounge, or, even at the California Kitchen, an all night eatery. The trick was to buy a 6-pack before midnight so as to make oneself presentable at the party-thrower's door. Inside, dance teachers from Arthur Murray's Studios did swing exhibitions worthy of The Ed Sullivan Show.

Yup, and I made friends not only with Arthur Murray's swinging men but with Fred Astaire's dance teacher's too. In fact, at age 18, a dance teacher told me that his expensive auto, his huge rings and rubies and had been presents from admirers-- older ladies. You can have these things too, he said enticingly, hoping I'd join his studio and twirl around the floor all day. But I had other plans. Previous Entertainment Features from the GayToday Archive:
1998 Hollywood Year in Review

Much later, in San Francisco, I befriended a handsome student who worked as a bartender in the Castro district. He's since moved on, but the popular bar where he worked, The Midnight Sun, remains. It came as a shock on the first day of 1999 to read in the San Francisco Weekly that not only has dancing been banned at The Midnight Sun, but that its now been forbidden throughout the Castro. Hey, is this 1955 or something? Can we still kiss?

In contrast to this dreary Castro news, The New York Times reported on the same first day of the year that on campus "Tripping the Light Fantastic" is all the rage. At the University of Pennsylvania, for example, fifteen hundred undergraduates "were languishing on dance class waiting lists; on Friday nights, the ballroom dance club was overwhelmed trying to teach hundreds how to cha cha and fox trot."

Yup, the fox trot, a dance I learned to do when I was eight, has returned. And what else has returned? Benny Goodman, Red Nichols, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, commonplace names of a half century ago, are in. Latino rhythms, ever enticing, are back. Slow dancing felt sexy and romantic because it gave us all a chance to get close, to feel intimate before deciding to get intimate.

As I moved into my twenties, prior to any success gay and lesbian liberation would later know, I made a pact with myself at the late-night parties. Because I wanted to make sure that the guys I was attracted to weren't self-hating closet cases, I'd first ask them—after brief conversations-- to dance. Macho mental midgets—gay as gooses—would usually reply scornfully: "I don't dance with men." Enough said. Next?

It came as something of a shock the first time I saw people dancing apart-- doing The Twist. In fact I remember exactly where I was—in Pittsburgh at an all-black club where, on an upraised dance floor, it was impossible to tell who was dancing with whom.

That, according to an alarmist article I read shortly thereafter, was the problem. This article, appearing in 1961 in the Sunday magazine of a Washington newspaper, warned that people dancing by themselves offered a sure sign that social disorientation was right around the corner. Dance, said the writer, reflects social values. Dancing by oneself, he thought, would bring about a sure end to human unity.

I disagreed. As dancing without touching took over, human postures improved. Men, for the first time, learned that they could do what Elvis Presley had been forbidden to do-- to shake his hips on the Ed Sullivan Show. And believe it, this was progress.

In any case, it seemed somehow sad that the new dancing—dancing done alone—was taking over so completely. Why couldn't the two forms—dancing either alone or touching together—remain for those who liked them, side by side?

And now that Swing is back and ballroom dancing is once again in style, I beg only one thing of all fellow dancers: please, please never give up altogether on the joys of wiggling in wild, singular solitary abandon. Could it happen? Who would ever have once thought that the fox trot and the cha cha could disappear for forty years?

Better yet, why not create new forms? Disco-Swing, anyone?

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I. Dutch Equal Rights Committee Ruling:
Homosexual and lesbian couples should be allowed to compete in regular dance contests

(Click here for the condensed press release version)

The rule in ballroom dance competitions that a couple should consist of one man and one woman is a violation of Dutch law. This judgment has been pronounced by the Dutch Equal Treatment Committee on September 21, 2004. ( CGB 2004-116)
Therefore, couples consisting of two men or two women should be allowed to compete in regular dance contests. According to the Committee, the current competition rules discriminate against gay and lesbian dancers who want to dance with a partner of their own sex. The exclusion of same-sex couples is still associated with the predominance of the heterosexuality norm and with an aversion of visible homosexual identity. Therefore, the Committee judges that this exclusion is both a form of prohibited discrimination on the grounds of sex and on the grounds of homosexual orientation.

This judgment is a response to a petition by a male couple that has been dancing together at a higher level for several years. At international dance competitions for same-sex couples they dance in the highest class. In the Netherlands, they lack serious competition at their level; therefore, for dance contests they have to travel abroad. Their lessons and training generally take place together with different-sex couples. Therefore, they applied for permission to compete in regular Dutch contests.

At the dance contests organized by the Nederlandse Algemene Danssport Bond (NADB), the official Dutch dance association which is a member of the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF), only mixed couples are allowed to compete. The male couple was denied permission to participate; the NADB justified its refusal also with an appeal to the international rules of the International DanceSport Federation. After attempts to discuss this refusal with the NADB failed, Equality dancE (the Dutch organization of same-sex dance couples) and the Stichting Homosport Nederland (the general organization for gay and lesbian sportswomen and sportsmen in the Netherlands) decided to submit the case to the Dutch Equal Treatment Committee.

The spokesperson of both gay organizations, prof. Wibren van der Burg is very pleased with the judgment:
“This is an important step ahead. In the dance world the traditional heterosexual norm that a couple consists of a man and a woman is still dominant. For the concept of marriage, we have now left this norm behind us, at least in the Netherlands and some other countries. This judgment gives a very clear message that the dance world should also move with the times. The exclusion of a male couple at dance contests is only the tip of the iceberg. At many dance schools, male couples and female couples are not allowed to take dance lessons or even to dance together on social dance evenings.”

During the procedure, the NADB has expressed its intention to cooperate with Equality dancE and Homosport Nederland on the broader issue of discrimination in dance schools, social dance events and lessons. The president of the NADB has repeatedly emphasized that discriminatory practices at dance schools are not acceptable. Both gay organizations welcome this very positive attitude of the NADB and look forward to work with the various sport organizations towards further integration. Moreover, the Nederlandse Culturele Sportbond, a sports association that has much experience with promoting the integration of gay men and lesbian women in the regular sport world, has gladly offered to provide support.

It should be noted that the opinions of the Equal Treatment Committee have legal authority, but they are not legally binding on the parties. In most of the cases, however, the parties in a procedure (and if invoked, the courts) tend to respect these opinions. The gay organizations, therefore, hope that the NADB will also follow the judgment of the Commission and will allow the dance couple to compete.
On Friday, 24 September, the NADB issued a statement that they will grant no provisional permission for the Amsterdam contest on 25 September. They are still considering the issue and need more time for a definitive reaction.


Backgrounds

The usual role pattern in ball room dancing reflects traditional views on male-female elations. The rule is that a man dances with a woman and that the man leads.

For many gays and lesbians this rule implies that they cannot dance with whom they want (if the partner of their choice is a person of the same sex). Ballroom dancing (with subdisciplines Standard and Latin-American) is a sport in which the partners move in close physical contact; often an element of seduction and flirting is woven into the character of the dance, for example in dances like the rumba and the tango. Most straight dancers prefer to dance with a partner of the opposite sex, and not merely because this is the way the dance has historically developed; they would have this preference even if they were to have a free choice to dance with a partner of the same sex. Many gay and lesbian dancers (though certainly not all) similarly prefer to dance with a partner of the same sex (sometimes also with their own life companion), as part of their homosexual identity.

Discrimination of gays and lesbians that want to dance with a partner of the same sex is not unusual in the dance world. The association Equality dancE is still confronted with stories of women who during social dancing want to dance with their girlfriend and are told that they immediately should leave the floor. Taking dance lessons as a same-sex couple in one class with mixed couples is at many dance schools impossible. In most cases, gays and lesbians will not even try to dance together at social dancing, let alone apply to a regular dance school for lessons. The rejection of same-sex couples in dance contests, which was the focus in the procedure with the Dutch Equal Treatment Committee, is, seen from this broader perspective, merely a tip of the iceberg. Therefore, the two gay and lesbian organizations welcome the clear statement of the NADB that these forms of discrimination in social dance and dance lessons should be condemned and combated.

The sometimes emotional rejection of same-sex dance couples, both in the context of competition and in the context of social dancing and lessons, can only be understood in light of the tradition in which heterosexual relations were the norm, in sexuality, in marriage and in dancing. It is not surprising that a similar intense reaction is sometimes experienced by opposite-sex couples in which the man follows and the woman takes the leading role – this is considered unacceptable too because it breaks through established role patterns.


History

This is not the first dance case presented to the Equal Treatment Committee. In 1997 the Committee also dealt with a dance contest. In the 1997 opinion, the Committee stated clearly that the exclusion of same-sex dance couples is a violation of the Dutch Equal Treatment Act. Since then, only a limited progress has been made with regard to the integration of same-sex couples in the general dance world.

That is the reason why the board of Equality dancE decided to contact the general dance world and discuss how further integration can be promoted. A male couple (which has been at the top in the Netherlands for the past years in dance competitions for same sex couples) had expressed the wish to participate in regular contests organized by the official Dutch dance association, the Nederlandse Algemene Danssport Bond. The NADB is the only Dutch member of the International DanceSport Federation (IDSF). The NADB organizes the most important Dutch championships. If a couple at a high dance level as that of the couple involved wants to compete at their own level, the only opportunities are to be found in the contests organized by or under the auspices of the NADB.

Equality dancE received support from the Stichting Homosport Nederland (also a member of the NOC*NSF). The two organizations have tried to contact the NADB. The intention was and still is that all those involved would prefer to have an open discussion with the NADB about how the process of integration could be implemented in a cooperative way. They have always emphasized that legal steps were certainly not their first choice, but, if really necessary, they would not avoid them.

The board of the NADB, however, refused to accommodate the couple at the most principal point, even if they were willing to accommodate same-sex couples at other points. The NADB referred especially to the international competition rules of the IDSF; they feel obliged to follow these rules strictly.

On the crucial point, therefore, the views remained strongly opposed. Consequently, Equality dancE, Homosport Nederland and the dance couple have filed this case with the Equal Treatment Committee, with the request to pronounce a judgment on the competition rules of the NADB and on the refusal to grant an exemption.


The opinion of the Equal Treatment Committee

The opinion of the Committee is a clear and elaborately argued statement.
Exclusion of same-sex couples at dance contests is a prohibited form of discrimination and therefore in violation of the law. The committee gives two separate grounds for this assertion; each of these grounds on its own would already suffice to justify the conclusion that there has been a violation of the law. The exclusion is a prohibited form of discrimination on the grounds of homosexual orientation and it is a prohibited form of discrimination on the grounds of sex.
1. It is direct discrimination on the grounds of homosexual orientation. The rejection of same-sex couples is ‘also the result of an aversion to homosexual orientation as such and certainly to visible expressions of homosexual identity, even if among the dancers there are many homosexuals.” Moreover, for the couple, participation in dance contests is an expression of their homosexual identity as they have the desire to dance with a partner of the same sex.
The willingness of the NADB – however much it is to be applauded – to organize separate contests for same-sex couples is, according to the Committee, no adequate solution. Firstly not, because there are not enough same-sex couples in the higher classes to make competition possible, and secondly not, because same-sex couples would still be excluded from the regular competitions.
The Dutch Equal Treatment Act does not acknowledge any exceptions or justifications once an action has been qualified as a form of direct discrimination on the grounds of homosexual orientation. As a consequence, this qualification alone would suffice to make the exclusion in the dance competition rules a prohibited form of discrimination and thus a violation of the law.
2. However, it is also direct discrimination on the grounds of sex. According to the Committee “the sex of the dancer as such is determinative of his or her possibilities to participate in contests.” As a man can only dance with a woman, it is obvious that there is a discrimination on the grounds of sex.
(An explanatory note on the Dutch Equal Treatment Act - WvdB: the word “discrimination” used in this act has a neutral meaning. Separate showers for men and women are thus a form of discrimination, although one that is objectively justified and thus constitutes no form of prohibited discrimination. In order to determine whether such a form of discrimination is prohibited and against the law, it has to be decided whether any objective justifications or exceptions apply. For more information about the Dutch Equal Treatment Act, see www.cgb.nl.)
When discrimination on the grounds of sex has been established, there are a number of possible exceptions. One exception is a case where sex is a determining factor. This exception has been elaborated in a more precise guideline with a number of criteria. The relevant criterion in this case is “the participation in activities in the domain of sports and games, (i.) insofar as a relevant difference exists in the average achievements of men and women, or (ii.) insofar as it concerns the admission to activities, separate for men and women, in an international context, and in an international context agreements have been made or rules hold which imply that requirements are to be set with regard to the sex of the participants.”
The first relevant exception clause (i.) could be that there are relevant differences. However, the committee holds that it has not been shown that a possible difference in muscular force of women and men will lead to significant differences in achievement between traditional couples and same-sex couples. Therefore, this exception does not apply. (An additional remark -WvdB: Even if such a significant difference in achievement would have been accepted by the Committee, the general ban on same-sex couples in the competition rules would still have been illegal, as such a difference would certainly not have justified the exclusion of female couples or of same-sex couples in the lower classes.)
The second relevant exception clause (ii.) is that of international competitions on the basis of international rules where men and women compete separately. The committee discards the appeal to this exception by stating that the mere fact that NADB dance contests are also open to foreign couples does not give these contests an international character.
Therefore, neither of the possibly relevant exceptions applies in this case, and the Committee concludes that the exclusion of same-sex couples is also a prohibited form of discrimination on the grounds of sex.
3. The Equal Treatment Act does not apply to internal activities and regulations of associations. The NADB had claimed that its contests had an internal character. However, the Committee holds that a large group of the dancers participating are neither directly, nor indirectly, members of the NADB. And even if this had been different (as it will probably be in a few months because of a change in the structure of the NADB), it would still not be an internal competition. The reasons given by the Committee are the central role of commercial dance schools and the fact that the future indirect membership of all dancers is merely a formality necessary to be allowed to participate in contests. Therefore, the Committee concludes that the appeal to the internal character of NADB dance contests fails.
4. The opinion of the Committee applies both to the association that issues the competition rules (the NADB) and to individual organizers of dance contests. According to the Committee, the individual organizers have an independent responsibility to obey the law and cannot appeal to competition rules that are in violation of Dutch law.

This case has much wider ramifications than merely those of the case at hand. The Committee has clearly stated that even in the context of competition, exclusion of same-sex couples cannot be justified. The general implication must be that, a fortiori, in the context of social dancing, dance lessons and training, the exclusion of same-sex couples is also a violation of the law.

The judgment of the Equal Treatment Committee certainly is not the end of a process but a start. This process will require a cultural change in the dance world, not only with regard to competitions, but also, and mainly, with regard to dance lessons, training locations and social dance events. Equality Dance and Homosport Nederland hope to contribute to this process in good cooperation with the NADB.

Wibren van der Burg, 25 September 2004
www.EqualityDancE.nl

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J. PRESS RELEASE: Dutch Equal Rights Committee Ruling condensed:
Homosexual and lesbian couples should be allowed to compete in regular dance contests

The rule that at ballroom dance competitions a couple should consist of one man and one woman is a violation of Dutch law. This judgment has been pronounced by the Dutch Equal Treatment Committee on September 21, 2004.
Therefore, couples consisting of two men or two women should be allowed to compete in regular dance contests. According to the Committee, the current competition rules discriminate against gay and lesbian dancers who want to dance with a partner of their own sex. The exclusion of same-sex couples is still associated with the predominance of the heterosexuality norm and with an aversion of visible homosexual identity. Therefore, the Committee judges that this exclusion is both a form of prohibited discrimination on the ground of sex and on the ground of homosexual orientation.

This judgment is a response to a petition by a male couple that has been dancing together at a higher level for several years. At international dance competitions for same-sex couples they dance in the highest class. In the Netherlands, they lack serious competition at their level; therefore, for dance contests they have to travel abroad. Their lessons and training generally take place together with different-sex couples. Therefore, they applied for permission to compete in regular Dutch contests.

At the dance contests organized by the Nederlandse Algemene Danssport Bond (NADB), the official Dutch dance association which is a member of the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF), only mixed couples are allowed to compete. The male couple was denied permission to participate; the NADB justified its refusal also with an appeal to the international rules of the International DanceSport Federation. After attempts to discuss this refusal with the NADB failed, Equality dancE (the Dutch organization of same-sex dance couples) and the Stichting Homosport Nederland (the general organization for gay and lesbian sportswomen and sportsmen in the Netherlands) decided to submit the case to the Dutch Equal Treatment Committee.

The spokesperson of both gay organizations, prof. Wibren van der Burg is very pleased with the judgment:
“This is an important step ahead. In the dance world the traditional heterosexual norm that a couple consists of a man and a woman is still dominant. For the concept of marriage, we have now left this norm behind us, at least in the Netherlands and some other countries. This judgment gives a very clear message that the dance world should also move with the times. The exclusion of a male couple at dance contests is only the tip of the iceberg. At many dance schools, male couples and female couples are not allowed to take dance lessons or even to dance together on social dance evenings.”

During the procedure, the NADB has expressed its intention to cooperate with Equality dancE and Homosport Nederland on the broader issue of discrimination in dance schools, social dance events and lessons. The president of the NADB has repeatedly emphasized that discriminatory practices at dance schools are not acceptable. Both gay organizations welcome this very positive attitude of the NADB and look forward to work with the various sport organizations towards further integration. Moreover, the Nederlandse Culturele Sportbond, a sports association that has much experience with promoting the integration of gay men and lesbian women in the regular sport world, has gladly offered to provide support.

It should be noted that the opinions of the Equal Treatment Committee have legal authority, but they are not legally binding on the parties. In most of the cases, however, the parties in a procedure (and if invoked, the courts) tend to respect these opinions. The gay organizations, therefore, hope that the NADB will also follow the judgment of the Commission and will allow the dance couple to compete.

The judgment of the Equal Treatment Committee certainly is not the end of a process but a start. This process will require a cultural change in the world of dance, not only with regard to competitions, but also, and mainly, with regard to dance lessons, training locations and social dance events. Equality Dance and Homosport Nederland hope to contribute to this process in good cooperation with the NADB.

Wibren van der Burg, 25 September 2004
For more background information, see the website www.equalitydance.nl.

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L. An observation about some of the able-bodied by Christopher Reeve shortly before his untimely death...
I was touched by the candidness (is that a word?...) of a remark of Christopher Reeve that I heard during an interview made just previous to his tragic and unexpected death. A thought that I had actually reflected upon myself on numerous occasions over the years. "I get really impatient sometimes with completely able-bodied people who have all of their limbs and senses and abilities and who still, for whatever reason, just hold themselves back from doing things. I feel like telling them to get over themselves and just do it. And stop making excuses and keeping yourself from accomplishing the things that you supposedly really want to accomplish". With all of the accomplishments made by this man who was hardly able to even move, I have often wondered about his thoughts regarding people who keep going around in life making excuses for not doing things and repeating the words "I can't" over and over again throughout life. Here was a man who had lost almost all of his physical ability and who had every reason to sit and do nothing. But instead he accomplished a great deal more than so many of us who are able-bodied will ever come close to. It's no wonder he felt impatient with those who just wasted their time complaining about and trying to convince themselves of what they CAN'T do instead of taking the bull by the horns and proving what they CAN do.
In my 30 + years of teaching, I have had every type of student that you can imagine, including some who were very severely handicapped and others who were completely deaf or blind. In spite of such setbacks, these people have almost always been the ones who were infallable in their desires and attempts to dance, while some of those who were completely capable spent more time whining and pining and moaning and groaning about how hard it is to do things and how too much is being expected of them. My handicaped students had every excuse in the world to make excuses, but still they never did.
One of my YMCA students who was very severely handicapped and had very little control over her complete left side was preparing for a sister's wedding. Though she had tremendous difficulty in the Swing part of my social Ballroom, Latin & swing class at the Y, she never once even thought about giving up. Her balance was severely hindered during under arm turns, but still she kept at it and kept at it until she could finally be led with frequent success in both the right and left directions. I've also had numerous deaf and blind students who just refused to quit and who often not only matched, but exceded their able-bodied counterpats in class and on the dance floor.
This is why I've insisted for some time now that the the words "I can't" are no longer in my vocabulary, so please don't even bring them up in class. I have never asked, nor never will I ask anyone in a class to do anything that I'm not confident that they can do with a little effort. We are all so much more capable than we often give ourselves credit for. But for whatever reason, whether out of laziness, an over-all pesimistic outlook on life in general or even in rare examples, out of a means to get attention (which I'm convinced I've experienced in the past), some insist on making what is undeniably possible for them to accomplish a major ordeal. They tell everyone, including themselves, over and over about what they "Can't do" and low and behold, in no time at all, what they keep repeating comes true. Such people do not inspire me. They waste my time and the time of everyone else in the class who is making a positive effort to get good at this goal of becoming better dancers. It's the ones who have every excuse in the world to say "I Can't" , but don't who are true inspirations to me and everyone around them.
We should all have the positive outlook and perseverence of Christopher Reeve and the many other achievers out there like him who refuse to acknowledge that the words "I can't" even exist.

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M. A MIRAMAX synopsis of "Shall We Dance"
A workaholic lawyer’s life and marriage take an unexpected twirl when he follows a beautiful woman to a Chicago dance studio and becomes a clandestine ballroom dance competitor in SHALL WE DANCE. What begins as a romantic comedy soon turns into an exhilarating tale about the unexpected place one finds passion. SHALL WE DANCE is based on the runaway Japanese hit that won fans around the world. Inspired by the Japanese film’s light-hearted wit and thrilling dance sequences, this new version brings the story to the American fulfillment and happiness.
Richard Gere stars as John Clark, a man with a wonderful job, charming wife, (Susan Sarandon) and loving family who nevertheless feels that something is missing as he makes his way every day through the city. Each evening on his commute home, John sees an entrancing young teacher (Jennifer Lopez) staring with a lost expression through the window of a dance studio. Haunted by her gaze, John impulsively jumps off the train one night and signs up for dance lessons hoping to meet her. At first it seems like a mistake. His teacher turns out to be not Paulina, but the older Miss Mitzi (Anita Gillett) and John proves to be just as clumsy as his equally clueless classmates on the dance floor. Even worse, when he does meet Paulina, she icily tell John that she hopes he has come to the studio to study dance and not to look for a date.
But as his lessons continue, John discovers that his attraction to Paulina pales in comparison to the invigorating effects of falling in love with dance. Now, keeping his new obsession from family and co-workers, John feverishly trains for Chicago’s biggest dance competition. His friendship with Paulina blossoms as his enthusiasm rekindles her own lost passion for dance. But the more time John spends away from home, the more his wife becomes suspicious until she hires a private detective to uncover a possible affair. With his secret about to be revealed, John will have to do some fancy footwork to keep his dream going and realize what it is he really yearns for.

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N.
For an array of interesting opinions on numerous important LGBT topics, visit the site of Wayne Besen - Author, Activist, Columnist, Public Speaker.

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O. A disgusting creation from one of my readers, which I don't at all agree with, mind you, but am displaying it here to show how heartless some people can be (...thanks, Ralph!...).

 

P. Homosexuals -- Are they REALLY destroying the institution of marriage?

Ronald Reagan - divorced the mother of two of his children to marry Nancy Reagan, who bore him a daughter only 7 months after the marriage.

Bob Dole - divorced the mother of his child, who had nursed him through the long recovery from his war wounds.

Newt Gingrich - divorced his wife who was dying of cancer.

Dick Armey - House Majority Leader - divorced

Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas - divorced

Gov. John Engler of Michigan - divorced

Gov. Pete Wilson of California - divorced

George Will - divorced

Sen. Lauch Faircloth - divorced

Rush Limbaugh - Rush and his current wife Marta have six marriages and four divorces between them.

Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia - Barr, not yet 50 years old, has been married three times. Barr had the audacity to author and push the "Defense of Marriage Act." The current joke making the rounds on Capitol Hill is "Bob Barr...WHICH marriage are you defending?!?

Sen. Alfonse D'Amato of New York - divorced

Sen. John Warner of Virginia - divorced (once married to Liz Taylor.)

Gov. George Allen of Virginia - divorced

Henry Kissinger - divorced

Rep. Helen Chenoweth of Idaho - divorced

Sen. John McCain of Arizonia - divorced

Rep. John Kasich of Ohio - divorced

Rep. Susan Molinari of New York - Republican National Convention Keynote Speaker - divorced

So ... homosexuals are going to destroy the institution of marriage? Wait a minute, it seems that the all-too-perfect, right wing Christian Republicans are doing a fine job without anyone else's help! Maybe if the general public who sees this as the right wing scare tactic to bring more money into their coffers that it really is, would realize how many long-term relationships between same-gender couples there are, then maybe they'd see through all of this hateful rhetoric. Hateful rhetoric that's made in "The Name of Our Loving God", I might add.

(submitted by James A. Raywalt)

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