John Whaite reveals fears of abuse over Strictly first male same-sex pairing

One half of the first-ever male same-sex duo on Strictly, John Whaite, has revealed that he originally wanted a straight partner to avoid online abuse.

Still of John Whaite and Johannes Radebe during a routine on Strictly Come Dancing
Image: Instagram

The Great British Bake Off season 3 winner John Whaite and South African dancer and choreographer Johannes Radebe became the first male same-sex dancing partners on this season of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

While the move was a historic one in the pop culture world, Whaite admits that he was anxious about what this meant for him, revealing to Attitude magazine that he initially hoped for a straight partner.

“I was honoured, of course, because not only had I wanted to do Strictly ever since I saw it when I was a little boy… but also, as soon as I found out, I felt a little bit anxious,” he said.


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Well aware of the current political climate in the UK, where there are reports of a 210% increase in homophobic hate crimes over the last six years, it makes perfect sense that Whaite’s excitement would be coupled with fear.

“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.”

Whaite also opened up about people from his personal life warning him not to be “too gay” in the past, so it is no surprise that he imagined he would face backlash from the public.

“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.”


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Johannes Radebe has been empowered by the experience to sit down and talk about his sexuality with his family who have fortunately been very accepting.

“We’ve come such a long way, things have progressed, we actually sat down and spoke about it,” Radebe said. “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.’”

Tune in to BBC One on Saturday, November 6, at 6.45 PM to catch more of John Whaite and Johannes Radebe on Strictly Come Dancing.

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