Strictly's John Whaite explains why he initially wanted a straight dance partner
Strictly Come Dancing star John Whaite has said he initially wanted to be paired with a straight partner in the first male same-sex duo, because he thought it would be the only way to be accepted.
The Great British Bake Off star was ultimately paired with Johannes Radebe, who is also gay, after Whaite realised it would be “wrong” to dance with anyone other than the South African professional.
Whaite told Attitude magazine: “As soon as I found out, I felt a little bit anxious.
“I think as gay people, we have to choose the places we go to, we have to choose the people we speak to, who we even look at, because we have been conditioned to kind of expect hate and flak.
“So honestly, I was quite anxious about it. I knew that it was an important thing to do, that it was hopefully going to change the way TV is, change the way that children feel when they watch TV — it’s massive — but I was expecting to get a lot of hate, like (people) sliding into the DMs and saying: ‘You’re disgusting’, and that kind of thing.
“At first, I said: ‘Can you put me with a straight partner?’ because I (believed) that that would be the only way it would be accepted, and then, about a month before we were partnered up, I (thought), actually, I want it to be Johannes; it has to be Johannes… it would be wrong for it to be anyone but Johannes.”
Radebe said his own family have been accepting his sexuality after he came out publicly through Strictly, adding: “We’ve come such a long way, things have progressed, we actually sat down and spoke about it.
“It was nice to speak to my uncles about that, to say: ‘There is no kids, there’s not going to be a wife or two, I will be with another man, and we’ll probably have our own.’”
However, he said others in the townships in South Africa are not so lucky.
He continued: “It’s tough, it really is, to know that we still exist in a world where others don’t have human rights. That’s crushing.
“We’re out here living our best lives, but the truth of the matter is, we’ve got a whole community of people that are dying, getting killed.
“It’s sad. This is the reason why we do what we do, isn’t it?”
He added: “I’ve always said, I’m black and gay and you can’t separate the two.
“I belong and this is how every black child (should) be brought up in their homes.
“I’m happy with the United Kingdom. I’m happy to be living in this country because I feel like it’s a very progressive society.
“Not to say that it’s perfect here. We are representing and I think this is the bit that we can do towards that fight.”
Attitude is available digitally from 8pm on November 3 and in print from November 4.