Strictly star John Whaite says same-sex partnership 'normalised humanity'

John Whaite and his same-sex dancing partner Johannes Radebe are the first non-mixed gender couple in the show's history

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Great British Bake Off star John Whaite has said his same-sex partnership on Strictly Come Dancing has “normalised humanity”.

Whaite and his professional dance partner, Johannes Radebe, made history on this season of Strictly as the first all-male couple on the show, and the only same-sex couple to reach the final.

They are only the second same-sex couple on the BBC One show ever, with Nicola Adams’s time in the 2020 competition cut short due to Covid-19.

Johannes Radebe attending the National Television Awards.
Johannes Radebe attending the National Television Awards.

They will be going head-to-head in the final against Rose Ayling-Ellis and her partner, Giovanni Pernice, to win the glitterball trophy, after TV presenter AJ Odudu was forced to pull out with an ankle injury on Friday.

Whaite has said he hopes dancing in a same-sex partnership next to the heterosexual couples is a momentous moment for LGBTQ+ representation.

Speaking at a press conference hosted by It Takes Two presenter Rylan Clark, he said: “It’s been incredible, really incredible. The amount of people who have messaged saying their kids can grow up in a world where two men or two women can dance together is mega.

“Older members of the LGBTQ+ community have been so grateful that they’ve paved the way for this to happen.

Nicola Adams was due to be the show's first contestant with a same-sex partner, but her appearance was cut short due to Covid-19.
Nicola Adams was due to be the show's first contestant with a same-sex partner, but her appearance was cut short due to Covid-19.

“Kids can now grow without being ashamed. My friend who’s a teacher actually messaged me this morning saying that two of the kids in the playground this week were kissing, two lads, and no one batted an eyelid, it was normal.

“It’s just normalised humanity. It’s just saying to the world how great the diverse spectrum of humanity is and that’s what it’s about for us.”

South African professional dancer Radebe, 34, has revealed that being a part of the first all-male pairing on the BBC One dancing series has brought him closer to his traditionalist mother.

He said: “My mum’s relationship with me has improved and it’s improved because of this partnership. I have won, because my mum follows my journey with John religiously.

“If anything, that for me is the biggest takeaway from this partnership.

“I knew that when I told (her) about the partnership, she said, ‘oh, you’re dancing with a man’ and I said, ‘yes, I’m dancing with a man and his name is John’, and there was an awkward silence.

Rose Ayling-Ellis is in the final of Strictly.
Rose Ayling-Ellis is in the final of Strictly.

“Like everybody else, she also waited to see how it was going to play out because she is such a traditionalist. And I remember our first tango, she called me, she said ‘that was brilliant’.”

Whaite, who won The Great British Bake Off in 2012, has been open about his Strictly journey and the couple have even made their dances into powerful statements.

Most recently in the semi-final, for example, when they did an emotional contemporary routine to Adele’s Hometown Glory, but later found themselves in the dance-off against presenter Rhys Stephenson.

Whaite, 32, added: “We had a video message from a man last week and he was in his building outfit on the building site at five o’clock in the morning, he said ‘I’m a straight man but what you’ve done is blooming brilliant lads’.

“We’ve had so many people say they were doubtful at first of this partnership, but watching us dance, they can see it’s about the dance.

“For 90 seconds, we just dedicate ourselves to each other and the world sees it for what it is, which is art expression to performers.”

The couple will be performing three routines on Saturday night, among them the much-anticipated show dance to Florence and The Machine’s You Got The Love.

Whaite said: “It’s fast, it’s breakneck speed, it’s dangerous. I’m gonna have to get double my life insurance but it’s brilliant, glittery, it just represents everything we are and everything we’ve achieved and to an absolute anthem.”

They will also recreate their favourite dance, the Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired paso doble, alongside the rumba, which the judges want to see again.

The final two celebrities will take to the dancefloor in the Strictly Come Dancing Final 2021 on December 18.