Nigel Lythgoe defends but now “sincerely regret[s]” his “poor word choices and comments”

Following Nigel Lythgoe’s freak out about two male dancers on the Thursday premiere of So You Think You Can Dance, both Fox and the producer/judge have issued apologies, although ones that followed half-assed apologies.

Fox said in a statement to After Elton, in part, “All dancers are aware when they audition they will be subject to the judges’ opinions. We apologize if any viewers were offended by their remarks.” That is largely bullshit, and as After Elton notes, they are not “sorry for any of the homophobic comments made by judge Nigel Lythgoe” nor for the way “they edited the segment with music and footage that was blatantly offensive.”

Saturday, Nigel issued this statement to GLAAD and other media:

“I sincerely regret the fact that I have upset people with the poor word choices and comments I made both during the taping of the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ audition and on my personal status update. I am not homophobic and it was extremely upsetting for me to be classed as such.

I have been forthright and consistent with my opinion, as a judge, that professional male dancers should move with strength and agility — like Gene Kelly and Rudolph Nureyev. I now realize how this could be misconstrued.

I have been a dancer, and involved in the dance world, for nearly 50 years. Professionally and personally, I believe the sexual orientation of an auditioner or contestant is irrelevant. All that said, the fact that I have unintentionally upset people is distressing to me and it is obvious I have made mistakes that I must learn from. I trust that my humor will be more sensitive and mindful moving forward.”

That followed a day of defending his remarks and even being more offensive, which might make a cynical person think the statement that wasn’t genuine, unless he truly did learn from his mistakes. Throughout the day on Friday, Nigel Lythgoe responded to the criticism on Twitter. Here are the relevant posts:

I am passionate about dancers and dancing. I am not interested in their sexual preferences only their dancing and performances. Offstage (2:21 PM May 22nd)

We have had same sex dancing on SYTYCD from Season 1. Last year Joshua and Twitch. Before that MIa’s Prince’s routine with Danny and Neil. (2:11 PM May 22nd)

I believe overtly effeminate dancing destroys the opportunity for many male dancers to be supported. Being gay doesn’t mean effeminate. (1:13 PM May 22nd)

I am very sad the word ‘homophobe’ is being used. That is someone who hates homosexuals. I dislike effeminate dancing! Wake up and listen! (1:06 PM May 22nd)

The same sex ballroom guys did remind me of “Blades of Glory.” However, I’m not a fan of ‘Brokeback’ Ballroom. (3:37 AM May 22nd)

I hear I’m taking a beating on the web due to my comments regarding same sex ballroom I thought I was the most accepting of it on the panel? (3:14 AM May 22nd)

First, it’s fantastic he’s separating being gay from being effeminate, because those two things shouldn’t be linked, although that’s where homophobia stems from: people who take stereotypical gender roles so seriously they assume men must be strong and dominant and women be weak and submissive, and thus take issue with what they (again stereotypically and inaccurately) assume must be men being weak and submissive like women in the context of same-sex relationships.

Anyway, I’m not sure the criticism of Nigel’s Twitter posts has to go any further than his use of “sexual preference,” which seems to indicate what he really thinks about sexual orientation, especially since he did tell the two men they “might enjoy” being with a woman–just like he might enjoy being with a man, right? And let’s just ignore his “Brokeback Ballroom” comment, which would be funny if it wasn’t coming from such obvious contempt.

However, he later apologized for it, writing,”I have upset a number of dear friends,” and calling the comment “insensitive, ignorant and stupid.”

With that, it appears he may finally be getting it. Now if only he’d realize those three words also apply to his contempt for effeminate male dancers, we can leave him alone and go back to enjoying the dancing.

Fox issues non-apology apology for homophobia on “So You Think You Can Dance” [After Elton]
So You Think You Can Dance Judge Nigel Lythgoe Issues Apology [GLAAD]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.