I’m a Celebrity: John Barrowman women’s underwear row sparks debate
I’m A Celebrity star Nick Knowles is facing backlash online, after he refused to touch women’s underwear and asked John Barrowman to do so instead.
The DIY SOS presenter was hanging up wet clothes on Wednesday’s episode of ITV reality series I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! when he admitted he did not want to handle the underwear of the female contestants.
He asked gay Doctor Who star John Barrowman for help, saying: “I just don’t feel comfortable handling [women’s knickers]… would you hang it on the line? I feel like it would be inappropriate for me.”
Gay contestant John Barrowman was asked to handle the women’s underwear
Barrowman pushed back: “It is in no way inappropriate for any type of male to pick up a pair of women’s knickers to hang on a washing line.”
Emily Atack weighed in to defend Knowles, but Barrowman responded: “But why is it alright for me, a gay man, to pick it up but, it’s not alright for a straight man to pick it up? They’re just a piece of clothing!”
Speaking about the incident later to I’m A Celebrity‘s Bush Telegraph, Barrowman vented: “Touching their knickers doesn’t mean you want to have sex with them, there’s no sexual connotation to it at all.
“She might be offended if I pick up her knickers, but I don’t personally have a problem picking up women’s knickers! I do laundry, it’s not a big deal!”
Knowles said he has “old fashioned” views, adding: “I’m still not moving anyone’s bikinis.”
Twitter users accused I’m A Celebrity contestant Nick Knowles of ‘unconscious homophobia’
The loaded comments have proved controversial online.
One Twitter user said: “Old fashioned or not… you still went to the only gay man in the group to do it for you and that’s not okay.”
Another added: “Nick makes the same mistake many straight men make, thinking gay equals being a girl. It’s unconsciously homophobic.”
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Others branded the incident “unconscious homophobia,” adding: “It pisses me off that he assumed just because John is gay is was OK for him to pick them up. Not old fashioned at all, just a knob.”
Barrowman has said he would want a gender neutral title if he wins the I’m A Celebrity crown.
“I would be over the moon if I won. I would be the King or Queen of the Jungle,” he said, before adding: “I want both crowns.”
Barrowman, who is openly gay, rose to fame on TV shows including Doctor Who, Torchwood and Arrow.
Of his appearance on the show, he quipped: “Eating bums, balls and willies, I’m totally cool with.”
The 51-year-old explained: “I will do my damnedest in challenges so that we’re not, any of us, hangry. If somebody is not motivated to get those stars, I might be unforgiving.”
As well as being a renowned actor, Barrowman is also a singer, presenter and author.