There’s a reason that so many coming-of-age movies feature bullies as the antagonists. For most kids, the closest they’ll get to a real-life supervillain is a mean kid with nothing better to do. There are a lot of ways to deal with bullies. There’s the revenge route, which is generally the one we see in movies. Though exciting in theory, bullying a bully just turns you into a different kind of bully (and we do not need any more of those). You can turn to friends for support, or you can turn your experience into something amazing.
Greg Long’s son Jimmy loved to dance. Not only did Jimmy love dancing, but he was talented. His talent and passion for dancing landed him in a school performance, showcasing his skills to his classmates. However, what should have been a celebration of hard-work turned into something sinister. Some of the students in the audience decided to hurl insults and slurs at the young dancer, emboldened by the fact that their seats were shrouded in darkness.
On the ride home, Long listened to his son and his friends discuss the unexpectedly taxing day. He recalled to TODAY, “I got to listen to how 8- or 9- or 12-year-olds process that kind of bigotry. Instead of getting angry, I decided to make a T-shirt for them. And I came up with, ‘Hey, we’re just going to dance on. We’re just going to move past this.’”
“Dance On” started as a T-shirt design, a bold statement about doing what you love even in the face of bullies. But this supportive dad wasn’t done. The idea behind the T-shirt stayed with Long, as he was certain other kids faced the same thing his son and his friends had.
Greg Long is the type of dad we all admire – the type of dad who isn’t content strictly being there for his own kids. Long wanted to support other kids like his son, showing all boys who loved dancing that it was more than ok. That they should be proud of doing what they love rather than afraid of being judged. Long started a nonprofit called Dance On, an organization that promotes acceptance.
The Dance On website explains, “Here at Dance On, we are driven by a single goal; to do our part in making the world a better place for all. We work to keep boys dancing, even in the face of adversity. Our hope is to raise awareness around acceptance, anti-bullying, and allowing all people to follow their passions… to #danceon!”
The organization has sold thousands of T-Shirts, given away scholarships to deserving dancers, and Jimmy has even spoken publicly on his anti-bullying stance (with his supportive dad right behind him, of course).
“I lost it,” Greg said of a 2018 speech given by Jimmy. “I admittedly had tears coming down my face, because the strength that it takes for somebody like that to stand in front of 20,000 people and say, ‘I’ve been bullied and I’m not going to let it stop me from what I like to do’ — it was a proud moment.”
“It’s been nice to be a part of this as opposed to just being a dad who claps very loudly in the back of the auditorium,” he said.
For as long as Jimmy is dancing, Greg will be clapping loudly. In the front row, and beyond.