Repost from glaadBLOG.org
Lil Mama Makes Controversial Critique on America’s Best Dance Crew
August 31, 2009
Underlying conflict rose to the surface for Vogue Evolution last night on America’s Best Dance Crew as Leiomy said she was homesick and was shown acting out in rehearsal footage. After their performance, judge Lil Mama waded into controversy with some of her comments to Leiomy.
After walking out of dress rehearsal, Leiomy says that she has decided to stay because she recognizes that she has become a prominent representative of the transgender community on television and does not want to let down her fans.
Lil Mama opens her comments by stating that she “live[s] for Vogue Evolution,” offers a critical analysis of their performance and then addresses Leiomy directly:
“Leiomy, come on. Your behavior…it’s unacceptable. I just feel that you always have to remember your truth. You were born a man and you are becoming a woman. If you’re going to become a woman, act like a lady. Don’t be a bird, like ‘Oh my god, I’m not doing this!’ You know what I’m saying? It gets too crazy and it gets confusing. You’re doing this for America. Even though you’re the face for transgenders, you’re the face of America right now with this group and it’s not about anybody else. It’s about y’all. You know what I’m saying? So do it for the team. Do it for the team.”
You can watch video of the performance here.
GLAAD has received a number of complaints from concerned constituents regarding Lil Mama’s comments. We are currently reviewing the events and have reached out to MTV. We hope to have an update soon.
This is just a poor case of “Lil Mama doesn’t know any better,” and I don’t think she was trying to be spiteful. She’s just an ‘unschooled’ ally, but she’s an ally nonetheless. And, I hope GLAAD’s response to her at least acknowledges that. Angry gay backlashes that get delivered without considering the message in its entirety quite often end up turning off potential allies. And Lil Mama has been an ally to the transgender/queer community, at least on this show.
At the end of the day, Leiomy really was acting out and she needed someone to give her a wakeup call – “it’s not about you, there are so many people looking up to you right now so don’t ruin it” was what I heard from Lil Mama’s critique that day. It could’ve been delivered without restating gender binaries, but I’m really sure the ignorant judge didn’t realize that by revisiting biological ‘manhood’ it was both demeaning, insensitive, and alienating. She needs to learn that it was, and I’m sure once she does she’ll be more careful.
So, I hope Lil Mama gets that message and considers the transgender experience more carefully next time before blabbing away with no tact. I would be more impressed were GLAAD to achieve that than an applause from the gay community at large for putting a perceived ignorant straight person in their place – back on the ‘other’ side – and everybody loses.
This is an excellent topic, glad this is being blogged about.
Personally, as an ally, I don’t think the focus should be on delivering a message to Lil Mama that is ally-friendly should be the focus, but rather delivering a message to her that her comments were offensive should be the focus. Allies should be corrected, and I think it is OK to do that.
Leiomy’s actions on the show were heavily edited (one week’s worth of behavior was cut down into about 45seconds), her friend Alloura died a few days before the taping of Sunday’s episode – which probably explained her absences and want to be back home. Many people in the ball room scene call each other “bitches” so when that clip was shown it was wildly out of context.
I think belng an ally to trans women is to allow yourself to be critiqued. I don’t think it is the right of allies to state how allies should be handled when we say something wrong, or to try to pacify the discussion when something transphobic (I think we should call it that) is said. I see where you’re coming from, I definitely do – but it doesn’t seem like a cut and dry type of discussion.
great references on how to be an ally to trans people and an ally in general are here:
I’m not sure what the resolution is – but the debate it is creating is important and really informs where Transactivism has been and where it will be going. In general, Leoimy has been absolutely vilified in multiple blogs/media sources (Best Week Ever has been wildly transphobic about her presence on the show from the beginning, as have Gawker, VH1, even MTV itself and other sites) and I think Lil Mama ignited that notion that bringing up Leoimy’s trans history (over and over and over again) informs every aspect of her behavior on the show. It doesn’t, and maybe something needs to be said about how Leoimy has been treated in the medias in general and Lil Mama’s comments could be the perfect opportunity to do so?
GLAAD posted an update today. i hope MTV will apologize too. and i hope Lil Mama apologizes to Leiomy too. it was definitely insensitive to her and just really wasn’t necessary to say in order to critique her dancing and her attitude.