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"Your Gay Dance Teacher's" Origin Story

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

Harmony is reclining on a hopscotch pattern, with one hand resting on their shaved head, resting gently. They are wearing a colorful, striped shirt and gold and pearl earring.

Hi, my name is Harmony.

I am a dancer.

I am also transgender (my pronouns are he/him/his and they/them/theirs), non-binary, queer, a veteran of the US Navy, and mixed race Chinese American. As a gender non-conforming adult learner in dance, it’s been challenging for me to feel like a “real” dancer, but I remind myself daily that I too can claim this identity.

When I started my dance journey, I felt very aware that dance is a deeply gendered artform—the rules are different for men and women, and the rules are for men and women only. I didn’t see many dancers who looked like me. I have been mis-gendered in class more times than I can count. I’ve struggled to stay present in dance classes where the gendered expectations left little room for me to move and express myself authentically.

Still, I love to dance, and I love being a dancer. Dance has saved my life, brought me joy, built friendships, and helped me heal from trauma and emotional pain.

I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling marginalized by the gendered pressures of dance, so, in 2019, I began holding classes, workshops, and community healing spaces to help other transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people how to move with confidence, feel embodied, and relate to dance while remaining true to themselves. "Your Gay Dance Teacher" was born.

I am currently in school, continuing my education in Dance and Sign Language because I am deeply committed to facilitating healing through movement, especially for those who have difficulty accessing their own bodies due to gender dysphoria, trauma, inaccessibility, racism, and marginalization. I have found so much healing through dance, and it is my mission to share dance so more of us can heal together.

Every one of my students so far has come to class because they want to relate to their bodies in a deeper way, but they feel anxious or intimidated by dance classes, due to uncomfortable or unsafe past experiences. In my classes, I ensure pronouns and identities are centered, and that racism will not be tolerated. I have seen amazing breakthroughs and healing occur within just one class because students are given the space to take up space unapologetically. These moments motivate me to grow this project, and expand what I can offer in service to my community.

Safer spaces for TGNC people to dance—especially as an adult beginners—are rare. Dance is a vulnerable expression, and moving in a marginalized body only elevates that vulnerability. Simply put, we need safer spaces for somatic healing, but most dance spaces do not center TGNC needs and experiences. It’s my goal to create, support, and inspire healing spaces for us, while using a gender-expansive approach to dance.

Thank you for being here and I can't wait to see you on the dance floor soon.

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