LOS ANGELES -- Chaz Bono made history last night, becoming the first transgender person to dance on ABC's smash hit, Dancing With the Stars.
Bono, who was the recent subject of "Becoming Chaz," a documentary that focused on his transition from female to male and premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network this past Spring, danced the "Cha-cha" with his professional dancing partner, Lacey Schwimmer in the two hour premiere of Dancing With the Stars, Monday, September 19, 2011.
Ever since ABC first announced that Bono would be a contestant on its 13th season, there has been a firestorm of controversy, with equal amounts of supporters and detractors weighing in across the internet, cable television and social media.
ABC took full advantage of the controversy, positioning Bono as the 12th and very last dance of the evening.
In his lead-in bio, common for all new celebrity contestants, Bono addressed his transgender status but it never came up again, during or after his dance. The normally reserved, and at times even subdued, Bono looked like he was letting loose and really enjoying himself, and showed he could pull off some dance moves.
The show's three judges also seemed to like Chaz's version of the snappy and energetic Latin-based ballroom dance and gave him a 6, 5, 6, for a total of 17, leaving him smack in the middle of the 12 person field, tied with openly gay Carson Kressley (also at 17), with five other scores below him and six others who had scored above him.
After the show, a beaming Bono and partner Schwimmer spoke to Cynthia McFadden of ABC's Nightline, about the experience.
"It's the hardest job you'll ever love," Bono told McFadden, summarizing his feelings about the show so far.
McFadden got right to the controversy, but Chaz, as usual, dismissed it quickly.
"I'm pretty good at tuning those things out," he said, before McFadden changed the subject.
When asked if he plans to be back next week, Bono was optimistic.
"I hope I'll be," he said. "I'd like to be. I'd like to be on as long as I can. So I hope everyone voted."
"It's in America's hands," Schwimmer chimed in. She then remarked that Bono was "in a daze" in response to McFadden asking what he was thinking during the dance.
"I did the best I could, and I had a good time doing it," Bono said. "Yes, I was in a total daze and I was thinking about holding the last pose for three seconds," he laughed. "I was thinking about pretty hands, which was something I never thought I'd be thinking about."
Tonight fans will find out if Bono made the first week's cut, after all viewer's votes are compiled along with those of the judges. DWTS airs tonight at 9 pm (PST) on ABC.
Pro-Bono party in Los Angeles
Chaz was also the focus at the "Pro-Bono" viewing party last night at one of the few gay owned and operated nightclubs in the Los Angeles area, Micky's, located in West Hollywood. According to long time activist Robin Tyler, about 125 members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community came out to support Bono.
"The party was great," she said. "Micky's couldn't have been better to us."
Tyler and celebrity / civil rights attorney Gloria Allred had helped organize the viewing party, and encouraged people to establish viewing parties around the country in solidarity and support of Bono. GetEQUAL recently jumped on board to lend a hand in getting the word out and lending their own support to the cause.
Tyler took to a microphone at the event and acted as the night's EMCEE. She fielded reporters from CNN, BBC, Fox, Los Angeles' Channel 5 and KCBS, who each spent time interviewing her, Allred and other attendees.
"GetEQUAL had a lot of activists there," Tyler said. "GLAAD sent a representative who also spoke to the crowd. It was entertaining, educating, and FUN! I had a good time in that I was able to get the media to focus on interviewing transgender leaders and not just other people talking about them.
And wow, are they terrific in speaking on this issue!"
Members of the LGBT community gathered not only to show their support of Bono, but to also view the 13th season premiere of the groundbreaking show along with other supporters and then vote together for Bono when the time came.
Others no doubt showed up primarily to dance with Allred, who had promised last week she would "dance with every transgender person" who came out to support Chaz.
She kept to her promise, as is evident in this TMZ video. (Warning: Some TMZ content on the site may be considered offensive.)
Mickey's will continue with the Pro-Bono parties throughout the DWTS season.