Israeli Dancing with the Stars makes a gay statement
IN IDENTICAL net costumes and with matching blonde tresses, a television presenter and a professional dancer entered Israel'sDancing with the Stars to become the first same-sex couple to perform in the global television dance phenomenon.
Gili Shem Tov, an openly gay anchor on one of Israel's main channels, made a female partner a condition of competing in the show.
''This is my way of life and this is my agenda, and I wanted to express it,'' she said.
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Gili Shem Tov and Dorit Milman dance during a dress rehearsal for the Israeli version of Dancing with the Stars.Photo: Reuters
''If even just a few people become more tolerant and open-minded as a result, then I have achieved something.''
Shem Tov, who lives with her partner and their son, said most reaction had been positive, although a few people had said a program watched by children should not show two women dancing together.
''I don't understand that,'' she said. ''I have a child myself.''
Her partner, she said, was proud and excited ''and said I have a lot of courage''.
Her dance partner, Dorit Milman, was enthusiastic about the debut. ''Everyone knows that Israel has a lot of extremes,'' she said.
''When we go on primetime TV as a couple, we're showing everyone can love everyone.''
Milman, who is heterosexual, said the pair had to ''change the rules'' to make their dance routine work.
She said: ''In a 'normal' couple, the man must show his masculinity and the female is very sensual.''
The program's makers consulted the BBC, the owners of the format, on whether there had been a same-sex couple competing in any of the 36 countries where versions of the show have been broadcast.
''They said we would be the first,'' said the executive producer, Assaf Gil.
Israel has a thriving gay scene, based mostly in the liberal, secular and cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv.