Words: Alastair James; pictures: Dean Ryan McDaid
Strictly Come Dancing's John Whaite has revealed there's been "a lot of trolling this week" as he and the remaining finalists prepare for this weekend's grand final.
John, who is gay, made history in this series when he became half of the first all-male pairing on the show along with Strictly professional Johannes Radebe, who is also gay.
The pair will face off against Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis and AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington on Saturday (18 December) night.
"The hate really has been lost in a tidal wave of kindness"
Speaking to the BBC in the run-up to the final, John says he always assumed he'd dance with a woman "because that was what the narrative was".
He goes on to say that once he was approached for the show at first, he said: "'I really think I should dance with a straight man', just to temper it a little bit and make it a bit more digestible for people who perhaps aren't willing to digest that kind of thing."
John adds that the positive responses the couple have received as a result of dancing together has outweighed the hate, "so much so that the hate really has been lost in a tidal wave of kindness and support for us both."
Confirming this with his dance partner, John moves on to say that "there's been a lot of trolling this week," which is sad to hear.
Dancing with Johannes has made John, he says, more confident and as an openly gay man and happier to be himself and who he is. Addressing Johannes, John says: "You've really given me so much more than just dance," to which Johannes replies, "Aw, babe."
It's clear in the short video interview that the two are really fond of one another. That chemistry has translated beautifully over to the dancefloor where the two have worked in near-perfect synchronicity and harmony and consistently scoring high (if not perfect!) marks every time.
Speaking to Attitude in November as he appeared on the cover alongside John, Johannes said he was apprehensive at first given the 200 or so complaints the BBC received when he danced with fellow Strictly professional Graziano de Prima in 2019.
"I’ve always wanted to be a part of this, and I’ve always cheered same-sex partnerships, and I’ve done things to add to this moment, I would like to believe, said Johannes. "But in that, there was criticism and fear and negativity that we received when I danced with Graziano, complaints and stuff like that. I didn’t want that again."
He added: "Then I remember thinking, what if it’s successful? I realised that there’s people who want to see it, that would love to see it more than what I’m feeling."
The final of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 takes place on Saturday 18 December from 7pm.