The small town of Semmes, Alabama got the surprise of a lifetime when the Prancing Elites, an all male, gay dance team from Mobile, Alabama, performed at their Christmas Day parade, sparking controversy across social media, reports AL.com.
The Elites, which consists of Captain Kentrell Collins, 26, Adrian Clemons, 23, Jerel Maddox, 23, Kareem Davis, 22, and Timothy Smith, 22, were invited by Karen McDuffie, who sits on the board of directors of the Friends of Semmes, the creators of the event.
McDuffie claims that she had no idea that the group would perform such “vulgar” and inappropriate dances.
“I had no idea that they would be dressed the way they were and that they would think it’s appropriate for a community Christmas parade,” she said. “Their costumes and the style of dancing were inappropriate.”
Read more from AL.com:
The group dances in a style called J-Setting, a hip-hop-style dance characterized by cheerleading-style sharp movements that originated at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. The dance style was historically performed by women since the 1970s, but some men started taking part in the style in the mid-1990s.
The Prancing Elites, who recently danced their way into viral fame, first started in 2004, with Collins filling the role as the group’s captain in 2006. They started out as a 10-member ensemble with rigorous practices and performance schedules. Today there are only five members.
Three of them played instruments and one was a drum major in their high school bands. They wanted to join the dance squads, but said they were never allowed.
In July, they appeared on “The Real,” a daytime talk show hosted by Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley. They were also invited to speak on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. And in November they auditioned for America’s Got Talent.
All this fame was precipitated by a tweet in June from basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who saw a video of them dancing on YouTube. The video went viral in two days, garnering about 200,000 views.
See one outraged Semmes town member speak about the Elites performance below:
Since the controversy, the Elites have received massive support on social media and have exceeded their Kickstarter goal for a new practice facility and uniforms.
See their performance at the Semmes Christmas parade below:
The Prancing Elites have also received support from popular and groundbreaking trans* “Orange Is The New Black” actress Laverne Cox:
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) December 24, 2013
Collins said that the criticism the dance team is receiving exposes a sad double standard.
“We are no different than any team out there dancing. We want people to stop looking at gender and focus on the talent,” said Collins. “It’s OK for a woman to put on tights and play football, but when a man wants to put on a leotard and tights, it’s a problem.”
In this case, it appears as if homophobia is going to lead to something good. The Prancing Elites are on the verge of even greater success.