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Bono is just being himself, so let him be

Chaz Bono left Lacey Schwimmer pose for phowhile rehearsing for upcoming seas'Dancing Stars' Los Angeles Wednesday Sept. 7 2011.

Chaz Bono, left, and Lacey Schwimmer pose for a photo while rehearsing for the upcoming season of "Dancing of the Stars" in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. The new season of "Dancing with the Stars" premieres Sept. 19 on ABC. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

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Updated: November 10, 2011 10:04AM



Jeez, can’t we just let the guy cha-cha?

That’s my reaction as the controversy swirls over the selection of Chaz Bono as one of the 12 contestants on “Dancing With the Stars,” which begins Monday night on ABC.

For the uninformed, Bono is the only child of entertainer Cher and the late Sonny Bono.

The 42-year-old was born female, but has undergone gender transition. Physically and legally, Bono is a male. On “DWTS,” he is paired with a female professional dancer, Lacey Schwimmer.

From the reaction on the Internet, you’d think Bono was going to be showing off surgery scars. There has been a huge outcry on websites such as OneMillionMoms.com that we must shield the children.

Just seeing Bono shimmy and shake across the stage is going to confuse them — that’s the gist of what psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a piece on FoxNews.com that advised parents not to let their children watch Bono dance.

Why? All kids will be seeing when Bono gets his moment in the spotlight is a man dancing with a woman. If a child does ask about Bono, can’t a parent just say “this is a person who decided she was a he” and let it go at that? Or, how about using any questions as a time for a candid family conversation?

Absolutely not, according to Ablow, who goofily compares Bono’s decision to that of a woman who cuts off her arms because she feels her true identity is as a double amputee. Ablow writes that if Bono had come to him, he would have done all in his power to change his decision, including, “I would have used everything I know about medication to help her.”

Yeah, let’s send our kids the message we “just say no” to drugs until someone dares to be different; then we medicate them senseless.

The Bono incident is just the latest in this country’s culture wars. There are those who want to pretend that everyone is the same and can’t tolerate any sort of diversity.

And then there are the rest of us who are ready to acknowledge there are all sorts of people and different is just that; not better, not worse, just different.

As I read the comments people — so many calling themselves “Christians” — have made, I couldn’t help but think about a book I read earlier this year, It Gets Better. Edited by syndicated columnist Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, it’s a compilation of essays from the famous and everyday people. The book came about after a number of teens committed suicide because of bullying about their sexuality.

In so many of the essays, the writers — several from conservative Christian backgrounds — describe the misery they experienced as teens because of their sexuality. Yet one after the other tells how the pain was lifted when they admitted, “This is who I am.”

They encourage teens to be open about themselves because in these times, now they can.

As one wrote, “You can be your­self. It’s no longer the road not taken.”

That’s all Chaz Bono is doing — being himself.

I bet there will be a number of teens — gay and straight, possibly some whose moms are blathering on the Internet as if the world were coming to an end — who will find strength to be themselves with Bono’s appearance.

Of course the Bono opponents are saying they’ll switch the channel. That’s their right. And the rest of us can turn it on and let ABC know we’re more than OK with letting people be who they are.

Chaz Bono, you go, boy.



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