A group of all-male dancers, who perform in drag, were invited to perform in an Alabama Christmas parade on Saturday. The Prancing Elite thought they were welcome, but instead they were met with jeers and disgust.
Team captain Kentrell Collins, 26, told the organizer of the Semmes parade they the group was all-male.
"I said we're all over 21 and we're guys. She was so excited. She was like I didn't know they had any groups like that in Mobile," Collins told Fox 10 TV.
The Mobile dance team has performed in other cities and an Internet search of their name comes up were several videos that clearly show the nature of their performances.
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"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," said Karen McDuffie, who accepted applications for the event. "Their costumes and the style of dancing were inappropriate."
The dancers said they knew something was strange when the director of the procession said, “If anybody says anything to you, don't stop moving, keep going.”
Dressed in red and white Santa coats and short shorts, the five dancers
"Some of them were saying stuff like 'Oh my God, what's that?'" dancer Adrian Clemons said.
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"I was outraged and appalled. I never expect anything like this at the Semmes Christmas parade," said Claudia Davis, who was at the parade with her daughter.
Davis said the planning of the parade was handled by The Friends of Semmes organization this year and will be taken over by the city council next year.
"If they were gonna put this kind of activity in the parade, they should have notified the people of Semmes so that we had a choice whether we wanted out children to attend and see something like that," Davis said.
MacDuffie said their dance moves were “vulgar” and "not appropriate for a children's Christmas parade.”
A parade organizer, Jack Tillman, said he knew the group looked controversial, but didn’t speak up.
"Once they got in, it would have been a mess trying to get them removed -- so I just let them go," Tillman said. "To tell you the truth I didn't think much about it. I didn't particularly like it but there wasn't much I could do."
"I would rather you pull us to the side and say, hey that's probably not a good idea for you guy to march. Okay, we can accept that," dancer Jerel Maddox said.
The group apologized, but maintained the fact that they were invited to dance.
"We do want to apologize if we offended anybody who did not know who we were before today, but still at the end of the day, we only just came to dance and we did get invited," Collins said.
"We are no different than any team out there dancing. We want people to stop looking at gender and focus on the talent," he said. "It's OK for a woman to put on tights and play football but when a man wants to put on leotard and tights, it's a problem."
The group is already booked in Mobile for New Year’s Eve and Mardi Gras performances.