By Jeremy Kinser
Originally published on Advocate.com September 19 2011 6:50 AM ET
Chaz Bono's debut on Dancing With The Stars tonight has already been tremendously controversial, but his appearance is bringing together different factions of the LGBT community to view the premiere and vote for the first transgender contestant in the show's history.
Although conservative viewers have criticized ABC's decision to cast Bono, many LGBT activists and advocacy groups have reacted by organizing viewing parties, and urging people to vote for Bono. GLAAD has joined numerous advocacy groups including GetEqual, HRC, the Transgender Law Center, and LGBT advocates Belinda Carroll and Robin Tyler in voicing support for Bono and urging community members and allies to watch the show tonight and vote for their favorite contestant. The gatherings are being referred to as Pro Bono parties, a term coined by attorney Gloria Allred, who will host an event at Mickey's, a gay bar in West Hollywood tonight.
In related news, TMZ reports that ABC has increased security for Bono both on and off the dance floor. Although sources say there haven't been any specific threats against him, the studio has decided to provide Bono with protection on the set and off.
The new season of Dancing With The Stars will premiere on ABC tonight. Here's how to vote:
By phone, dial 1-800-868-3412. You can vote from any phone line as many times as there are couples still competing.
By text, AT&T customers only can text the word "VOTE" to 3412 from your AT&T phone.
Phone and text voting is open in your local time zone from the beginning of the Monday show until 30 minutes after the end of the Monday show.
To vote online, go to abc.com and sign in using your Facebook or Twitter cccount. If you don't have one, create an ABC.com account. You are able to vote from all current email accounts of your choosing.
For complete rules on voting, click here.
Online voting is open from the beginning of the Monday show until 8 a.m. Pacific time / 11 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday.