South African dancer Johannes Radebe has delighted the British public with a same-sex Strictly Come Dancing routine that’s gotten social media talking.
On Sunday night, millions watched as Radebe, 32, paired up with fellow professional dancer Graziano di Prima, 25, to perform as a couple to Emeli Sande singing her uplifting track, Shine.
“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,” the openly gay Radebe told Hello! magazine about the routine.
“To be able to dance with a friend I respect and adore is joyous. There’s bromance galore between us, but there were no male and female roles, just free movement. It was beautiful, classy and elegant.”
In a Twitter post, Di Prima wrote about Radebe: “Our friendship is difficult to explain, we went through so many moments together that we can understand each other without saying a WORD. ‘As I say to you most of the time: You will be part of my life FOREVER… love you Johannes.”
Their dance drew overwhelmingly positive responses on social media, with many praising the two men for both their talent and for breaking new ground.
Radebe, who twice won the Professional South African Latin championships and was three times the Amateur Latin South African champion, previously performed on South Africa’s Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars. In 2018, he joined the cast of the British Strictly Come Dancing.
Speaking to Attitude magazine last year, Radebe said he was bullied as a child for being gay. “I used to hide from the world. It was terrible. They used to call me names, they used to beat me. For what, you don’t understand. ‘Why are you hitting me? I don’t think any child should ever experience that.”
He added: “But I’m thankful for dance because that was the one place I could be who I am. No one teased me, or if they did, my coach was on them.”
In October 2018, two of Strictly Come Dancing’s male dancers, AJ Pritchard and Gorka Marquez, briefly danced passionately together in a memorable group routine. The BBC also recently confirmed that it is now finally willing to allow a celebrity to be partnered with a same-sex professional dancer in a future season of the show.