Members of the LGBT community have praised Strictly Come Dancing’s ‘boundary-breaking’ decision to include a same-sex couple in their line-up and hope it will ‘pioneer change’.
Olympic boxer Nicola Adams, 37, will make Strictly Come Dancing history this year by becoming the first celebrity to dance in a same-sex pair.
Adams, from Leeds, retired from boxing last year after winning two gold medals for Great Britain in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
In a video posted to Twitter, she assured fans she would be ‘giving her all’ to the challenge, adding: “I’d like to thank the BBC for giving me the opportunity to be the first female lead on the show.”
LGBT community members and allies have spoken out in support for Strictly Come Dancing’s decision after the show announced the news, with some voicing hope it will normalise same-gender relationships for a generation of young people.
LGBT Foundation shared its support for Strictly Come Dancing’s decision with Yahoo UK.
Joe Nellist, Communications Coordinator at the charity said: “We are thrilled to hear that Nicola Adams will be appearing on the upcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing in the first permanent same-gender pairing for the show.
“A generation of young LGBT people will now be able to watch the show and see that same-gender partnerships are just as valid and just as beautiful as opposite-gender ones.
“Visibility and representation of LGBT people and our relationships is fundamental in achieving a fairer and more equal society.
“Last year, the show received nearly 200 complaints when Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima performed together, showing that we still have work to do to break down stigma around same-sex partnerships.”
Adams, who came out as bisexual when she was 15, met girlfriend Ella Baig in 2018 and the two have recently appeared together on their sofa in Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox.
The women once opened up about the abuse they receive as a same-sex couple in an appearance on Loose Women, admitting they’re often told “you can’t have sex” or asked who “the man” is in their relationship.
Read more: Paris Jackson opens up about sexuality
BBC weatherman, Owain Wyn Evans, patron of LGBT Foundation, was one of the first people to commend the decision by Strictly, saying:: “This is incredible and absolutely huge news.”
“Super excited by this. Nicola is an amazing Olympian and that smile will light up the dance floor,” another fan of the show added.
This is incredible and absolutely huge news 👏👏👏🥰🥰🥰🥰— Owain Wyn Evans (@OwainWynEvans) September 2, 2020
Adams told BBC Breakfast that it was her decision to push for a same-sex pairing after she was approached by the show to take part.
“I asked the show about it. They wanted to know if I wanted to be on the show and I said, 'Yeah, I'll do it, but I want to dance with another female dance partner’,” she explained.
A number of celebrities were quick to throw their support into the ring for Adams.
Broadcaster Clare Balding said: “Fast footwork, strong arms, ultra committed, the fitness and focus of a sports pro and a mega watt smile - Nicola is going to be amazing.
“Oh, and don’t underestimate the bravery of being loud and proud when it would be so easy not to. Full power to her.”
Matt Evers, who appeared on ITV's Dancing On Ice in the first same-sex pairing with H Watkins from Steps, also shared his support by congratulating the boxer on this LGBT milestone.
Fast footwork, strong arms, ultra committed, the fitness and focus of a sports pro and a mega watt smile - Nicola is going to be amazing. Oh, and don’t underestimate the bravery of being loud and proud when it would be so easy not to. Full power to her 🏳️🌈 #StrictlyComeDancing https://t.co/cCTDCQtl3o— Clare Balding (@clarebalding) September 2, 2020
Strictly are doing a same sex couple and YES THIS IS LONG OVERDUE!— Stacey Dooley (@StaceyDooley) September 2, 2020
“Strictly are doing a same sex couple and YES THIS IS LONG OVERDUE,” presenter and journalist Stacey Dooley said on Twitter.
Dooley won the 16th series of Strictly Come Dancing with partner, Kevin Clifton.
In November 2019, the BBC received nearly 200 complaints about Strictly Come Dancing after two male professional dancers, Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima, performed together to a live rendition of Shine by Emile Sande.
In response to the backlash, the BBC issued a statement that read: “Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and is proud to have been able to facilitate the dance between Johannes and Graziano during the Professionals’ dance.
“They are dancers first and foremost, and their sex had no bearing on their routine.”
So far, we know that Adams will join Clara Amfo, Max George, Ranvir Singh and Caroline Quentin as part of this year’s line-up.
Keep up with the latest Strictly Come Dancing news here.