“For the first time in my life, I feel accepted for who I am,” said Johannes Radebe.
Strictly Come Dancing moved viewers to tears with the show’s first ever same-sex dance.
On Sunday night (3 November), professional dancers Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima made history when they performed to Emeli Sande’s 2019 romantic pop anthem, Shine. It was broadcast to millions of British households.
Speaking to Hello Magazine, Radebe – who made his debut this year alongside Catherine Tyldesley – said: “I’ve never felt so liberated. For the first time in my life, I feel accepted for who I am. That says so much about the people of this country.
“To be able to dance with a friend I respect and adore is joyous. There’s bromance galore between us, but there were no male and female roles, just free movement. It was beautiful, classy and elegant.”
Prima later wrote on Instagram: “Our friendship is difficult to explain, we went through so many moments together that we can understand each other without saying a WORD.. As I say to you most of the time: You will be part of my life FOREVER.”
Strictly fans praised the performance, with one writing on Twitter: “It’s not very often that I would applaud the BBC but allowing same sex dancers is progressive, inclusive & finally stepping into the modern day. I think it’s bloody brilliant.”
Another wrote: “My heart just bursted watching Graziano di Prima and Johannes Radebe dancing, let me cry a thousand tears.”
Earlier this year, former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips joined an increasing amount of people (including Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse) calling for the hit BBC show to allow same-sex couples to compete.
Speaking to the Radio Times, Arlene explained how common same-sex dancing is in the professional world.
“It’s happening in the dance world,” she said. “There are many same sex couples in dance competitions, it just isn’t on television. It’s common, it’s not even thought about. It’s part of dance, and it’s part of storytelling.”
A week before this year’s launch, the BBC said it was “completely open” to the idea of same-sex couples.
A BBC spokesman said: “Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and we are proud to have featured same-sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series. We are completely open to the prospect of including same-sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers in the future, should the opportunity arise.”
An unnamed source told the Daily Mirror that the move could come as early as next year.