Strictly Come Open-minded

Oh yes, it’s that time of year and my favourite TV show OF THE YEAR is about to hit our screens. Excited much? YES!! Thanks to COVID, it is launching slightly later than usual, with less contestants, but I’m sure it will be entertaining nevertheless. Nothing feels better, on a cold, wet Saturday night, than jumping in to PJ’s, grabbing some popcorn, and snuggling with the children whist doing our own versions of commentary and points. Ok, so now my kids are teens, it’s just the dog and me having these convos (I always win)!

I’ve never been one to complain about the line-up too much, as (for me) the entertainment value of the programme far outweighs the need to drive enthusiasm with big names. But this year, the line-up managed to raise my eyebrow (yes, just the one!). Was there someone I adored or hated in there? Someone controversial? Someone mysterious?

FIRST All Female Partnership

YES, you heard me right! Finally, SCD has jumped into the 21st century and announced its first ever same-sex pairing.

Nicola Adams OBE, the former Olympic boxing gold medallist, will be dancing for the glitter ball with another female (TBA, but speculation leads to Katya Jones). The boxer, who is bi-sexual and currently in a female partnership, is said to be excited at this opportunity the BBC has presented to her stating, “It’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry.”

Here, here Nicola. I’ll be rooting for you (along with a few others).

They had announced in July, that there’d be two same-sex pairings (one male, one female), but I’ve not found any announcements on the male pairing. Maybe this will be a surprise on the launch show. If it is I’m excited to see who it’ll be. If I had to guess, then maybe HRVY… or JJ Chalmers… possibly Max George… (ok, so now I’m just listing all the male celebs!)

Why so long?

SCD has dabbled with the idea in the past, so it is not entirely a surprise.  In 2019, Dr Ranj Singh requested a male partner but was turned down by the BBC. However, they did test the waters by allowing professionals, Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima, to perform together during a results show. Johannes stated, in an interview, “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.” [Evening Standard]

I remember watching this dance and thinking that it was about time the BBC done this, that there must be thousands of people out there watching and thinking the same, maybe even giving someone the courage to ‘come out’ (a phrase I don’t like, but that is another topic for discussion!). The BBC did get some criticism for this, with over 300 complaints during the performance, but when you compare this number to the viewership (some weeks over 11 million!) then, thankfully, it is a small minority of haters out there causing controversy. When I read news like that though, I really understand that there is still a long way to go before LGBTQ+ will be a normal part of life, before people will stop raising eyebrows, or be shocked at such revelations. There are still a lot of people out there who don’t agree and feel the need to speak out and be offended at other people’s way of life, but the more the media normalise diversity (of all kinds) the quicker we will get to a fairer and just society.

The ITV beat the BBC to same-sex pairings, by partnering Ian ‘H’ Watkins and Matt Evers for Dancing on Ice in 2019 (which aired in Jan ‘20). They were eliminated in week 6 after drumming up support from thousands of viewers, some of which divulged how they had finally found the courage to tell family and friends about their own sexuality. Maybe seeing the success of this partnership spurred the BBC into making the decision to add same-sex pairings in SCD.

Is this the future?

I hope so. I really do. To see such diversity in these entertainment shows is amazing. A lot of families watch these programmes together on the weekend, and if awareness can be brought to the forefront (of any kind) then we should encourage it. These conversations can be started by a simple dance show on TV, and they can also help people to stand up for what they believe in. I do like a good debate, and seeing something on TV is always a good conversation starter.

And, to be honest, if I was ‘Head of the BBC’ and had a load of hate messages threatening to not watch a programme for showing same-sex partnerships, then I would gladly respond by telling those people they are not the kind of viewers I want watching my programme anyway!

Time to make permanent changes to our perceptions, and let people live the life they want without judgement.

To quote Corinthians,

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Believe in love for all. Hallelujah and Amen ❤

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