Strictly Come Dancing star John Whaite has spoken candidly about his "fears" upon joining the BBC ballroom show, explaining that he originally asked for a very specific pairing.
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In a recent interview with Attitude magazine alongside his professional partner Johannes Radebe, the former Great British Bake Off star revealed that he was expecting "hate" after it was announced he would be part of the first all-male couple on the show.
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"As soon as I found out, I felt a little bit anxious," he began, adding: "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."
The TV star, who has wowed the judges and viewers alike with his routines in recent weeks, then admitted he originally asked to be put with a straight dancer in order to "please" people.
"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 because it's such an important thing for both of us, it would be wrong for it to be anyone but Johannes.
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John and Johannes feel proud to break down barriers with their partnership
"The fear in my wanting to please people got in the way and let me say, 'Can you put me with a straight man?'" The pair previously opened up about their partnership to HELLO! in an exclusive interview, describing their bond as "barrier breaking".
"John and I dancing together demonstrates that we live in a progressive society, but it stands for something far bigger than we actually realise," explained Johannes.
"There are still societies that don't accept homosexuality and where people who don't have human rights. That's one reason why it's important to keep breaking down those barriers, and people seeing John and me on the dance floor is a big step towards that. If we win, that message would be even louder."
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