Catching Up With Louis van Amstel


By Phillip B. Crook

Was it important for you to be more public with your sexuality and your relationships?
Well, I don't really care. I hate labeling. After that moment on Chelsea Lately or the [equal marriage rights] storyline with Niecy Nash last season, people said, 'Oh, we're so proud of you for coming out.' I never came out. Chelsea asked me a question: 'Is your boyfriend in the audience?' I just said, 'Yes.' It's not a message: "Oh, I'm gay by the way." I'm proud of who I am. I am not bound by those words. But at the same time, I'm being honest. He was there. With the message that Niecy and I sent, all I said was, 'You have to help me in the fight so I can get married.' It doesn't matter what label you have. Are you happy with the person inside of you? That to me is really important. It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bi, transsexual or if you want to be overweight and be happy with it or if you wear glasses or if you're an albino or a redhead -- we all have the right to be passionate about something and no one has the right to take that away.

Do you think labels had an effect this season on you and Margaret Cho being eliminated?
Unfortunately it was a very labeled, in-your-face message that wasn't even Margaret's and my message. I was angry. If you want to be accepted as a gay guy, don't label yourself, because what is the message? Boom. You get voted off. In the end, that means you missed opportunities each week to let people like you for who you truly are. Margaret was so on a roll. She was such an advocate for everybody that felt weird about themselves -- maybe they were overweight or they were anorexic like her, almost killed themselves -- and this woman is growing as a person. That was our message. Unfortunately, the judges and the production company decided not to share our real message.

What do you think they tried to change it into?
It turned into a whole gay pride thing. In the package, Margaret said she wanted to celebrate that everyone should be proud of who they are. Bruno said, 'Oh, I love that you are wearing the gay flag as your dress.' In my package interview I stated very clearly why I chose those colors, because for me the rainbow represents this planet where seven billion people live under the rainbow. The colors all represent that we're all different. It had nothing to do with the gay community. ABC decided not to portray that, and I was so pissed off but I decided not to make myself look like an ass. I didn't say, 'Oh, by the way Bruno, it's not the gay flag,' because they always make you look like the bad guy if you talk back to the judges. It was a very disappointing evening. Margaret thinks different.

What's her reaction?
She felt you have to be proud of who you are, and, because her demographic is the gay demographic, she went with it. And then when we were with Brooke, she said 'The gay suicides just got to stop. Enough.' And I thought, What about all the other families who lost their kids who were straight or maybe overweight or maybe they were redheads or maybe they were bullied for other things than being gay? We talked after the show. She said, 'You have that one moment where you can take a stand and make a message and it's powerful and it will be remembered.' Tuesday morning I broke down. I cried. I was so disappointed because I work all my life to not be labeled. I was bullied for being fat and gay and short. And all my life I worked hard to overcome that and be an advocate for anyone who's being bullied.

It sounds like you and Margaret have the same goal just different approaches.
Absolutely. That's why I love her, and we had such a great conversation because we want the same [thing]. But the bottom line is that was not our storyline. Why do people have to come out? Just be who you want to be. To me that's the next step. Another example I can give you is what happened last season with Evan Lysacek. Evan was on the show, Johnny Weir was not. And Johnny Weir wants to be on Dancing With the Stars. He's pushing for Evan to come out and I'm like, "If Evan is gay, it doesn't really matter." The fact is he won the gold medal. Johnny Weir, why don't you win the gold medal? Put the pedal to the medal. To me, that's how you change people's minds about the gay community.

So Evan just doesn't want a label?
Nope, and that's why I love him.

Well in addition to DWTS, you've also choreographed for So You Think You Can Dance. Did you see the episode where two men auditioned together doing ballroom?
Yes, because they're my friends. William and Jacob, I think that was last season.

Tags: Television