Same-sex partners perform on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Gili Shem Tov and Dorit Milman are the first same-sex dance partners in the show's history; Pamela Anderson to guest star this week.

dwts 311 (photo credit: AP)
dwts 311
(photo credit: AP)
It might be the only time Pamela Anderson is ever going to be upstaged.
The flamboyant ex-Baywatch star and pinup girl is arriving in Israel this week as a guest performer on Channel 2’s Dancing With The Stars, but, on last week’s episode, all eyes were on contestants Gili Shem Tov and Dorit Milman.
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They became the first same-sex dance partners in the history of the show, since the format was launched in 2004 as the British program Strictly Come Dancing.
Since then, some 30 countries have spun off their own versions of the show, including Israel in 2005. But none of the formats – from Albania to Vietnam – have ever featured same-sex partners.
Shem Tov, an openly gay TV sportscaster who has a son and lives with a female partner, and Milman, a professional dancer, performed a cha-cha dressed in matching, semi-transparent outfits with fishnet tights on the show’s premier telecast this week, as they competed against 11 other couples.
“I thought it went really well,” Shem Tov told The Jerusalem Post Thursday, adding that she hadn’t had a chance to watch the segment herself yet.
Among the other contestants this season are Channel 1 news presenter Dalia Mazor, singer Sharon Haziz and actor Aki Avni. The Dancing with the Stars format pairs celebrities with professional dancers, whom then compete for the votes of judges and viewers.
The Israeli pairing of the two women has created headlines in England, where all the major media networks have pointed to the breakthrough as another example of Israel’s progressive society. Some have called on Britain to adopt a similar policy on its show.
The tricky question of which of the women will lead the dances has been elegantly solved. They’ll take turns.
“The challenge to dance with a woman in a public contest interested me because it’s unique and has never been done before,” Shem Tov told the BBC.
“Because I share my life with a woman and have a family with her, to me this is the most natural thing to do.”
Milman, who is heterosexual, said that she was unaware her partner was going to be a woman when she signed up to perform on the show for her fifth season, but that she immediately jumped at the opportunity.
“When we go on prime-time TV as a couple, we’re showing everyone can love everyone,” she told Reuters.
That message may not go down well with a certain segment of Israeli society, but it’s unlikely that many of them watch the weekly show. Shem Tov told the Post that she’s been overwhelmed with positive response from around the country and the world. A representative from Reshet, which produces the show, said there hasn’t been any organized protest against the same-sex couple.
“I heard people say they won’t let their children watch the show because it’s a same-sex couple and they don’t like it. It makes me feel I want to do it more,” Shem Tov told Sky News. “And if only a few people will become more tolerant and open-minded, [then] my work is done here.”