It was a packed day on Ellen as Chaz Bono and Jon Cryer stopped by to promote their upcoming seasons of Dancing with the Stars and Two and a Half Men, respectively. DeGeneres opened with an impassioned defense of Bono before giving way to the lighter stuff. There was talk of prosthetic penises (from Cryer!); a surprise super-celebrity call-in; Bono revealing what style he drew for his first Dancing routine; and even some side scoop on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Read all about it below!
Having experienced her share of blowback for blazing a trail with her 1997 coming-out episode, DeGeneres wasted no time addressing the debate surrounding Bono’s groundbreaking turn on Dancing. After discouraging parents from viewing reality shows as educational tools for children (hear, hear!), she explained, “I think the controversy about Chaz comes from the fact that sometimes people reject what they don’t understand. And I don’t understand algebra, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
DeGeneres said wanted to have Bono on the show so people can ask questions and learn about his experience. After showing off his new skills by doing a graceful slide out onto the stage, Bono said he’d known as far back as he could remember that he was not meant to be Chastity. “When I was a kid there was nobody like me on TV,” he said. “I didn’t know what was possible. I just thought there was something desperately wrong with me.” After becoming more aware of the GLBTQ community and the science behind being transgendered, he made the decision at 30 years old to pursue sexual reassignment surgery.
Of his choice to compete on Dancing, Bono admitted he expected some controversy but said, “I really didn’t expect this.” DeGeneres deemed Bono’s decision “incredibly brave” and unabashedly mocked people who thought Bono’s appearance on Dancing would influence children to go through the painful, expensive process of sex reassignment surgery. She announced a surprise caller — Bono’s mother Cher, who recently had some strong words for her son’s detractors. Cher took a similar stance to DeGeneres, though admitted she probably wouldn’t be able to change the mind of anyone who has the “excess time and… hostility” to boycott “Dancing with the F—ing Stars!”
The segment gave DeGeneres pause to speak against bullying, saying all of us need to “take responsibility for how adults treat each other.” It was a thread that would carry through at the end of the show when she welcomed back the family of Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old who hanged himself two years ago after being bullied. Walker-Hoover’s mother revealed that she has been selected to appear on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
On a lighter note, Chaz revealed that his first dance will be the cha-cha, and that he and partner Lacey Schwimmer are doing “pretty good,” though “the quick step gives me nightmares.” Cher piped in, “You doing this Dancing is about as scary as you making the change!”