Strictly Come Dancing pro AJ Pritchard has responded to fan speculation about his sexuality.
The professional dancer, 24, has been a part of Strictly Come Dancing since 2016, and has attracted a large following among gay fans over his time on the dance competition.
But the dancer, who has previously stripped off for Attitude magazine, said he would be keeping his sexuality ambiguous.
In an interview with The Sun, he said: “I don’t think I should have to define it.
“From the age of 12 when I decided to dance in high school, everyone was saying, ‘Oh, you’re a dancer,’ and there was that kind of stigma about it.
“I try not to think about it. I just live my life—but the support from the gay community is always fantastic.”
“I love being around gay people, going to gay clubs.”
— AJ Pritchard
Of gay fans, he added: “It’s really great because they are always the best people to always be around. I love being around gay people, going to gay clubs.
“Obviously in this industry there happens to be more gay people, so it just seems to work perfectly—and it helps with the sales for the calendar.”
The star quipped that “hours have gone into my bum so I’m going to take that appreciation.”
AJ Pritchard stars in same-sex dance routine
The dancer recently took part in a same-sex dance routine on the reality show.
The Cabaret-inspired routine, set to Imagine Dragons track “Believer,” saw the show’s full cast of professionals tearing up the dancefloor in same-sex pairings.
AJ paired up with Pasha Kovalev for the routine, while Karen Clifton partnered with Katya Jones.
The stylish routine was met with loud cheers and applause from the audience—with a warm reaction in the studio and on social media.
The “amazing” routine was praised by fans, while some found it “sexy as hell.” Others called for the BBC to make same-sex dancing a more permanent feature.
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Strictly Come Dancing faces pressure to permit same-sex dance pairings
The BBC reality dance show has come under repeated fire over its reluctance to allow same-sex pairings in the contest, although they are increasingly common in the professional dance world.
The US version of Strictly, Dancing with the Stars, featured a same-sex dance routine for the first time in 2016, when model Nyle DiMarco was paired with pro dancer Keo Motsepe as part of a Team-Up Challenge.
The Italian version of the show has taken things a step further, featuring a permanent same-sex pairing as part of the competition.
But the BBC has been resistant to the change.
Ahead of this year’s contest, a spokesperson said: “Strictly has chosen the traditional format of mixed-sex couples and at the moment we have no plans to introduce same-sex couples.”
The confirmation comes despite vocal support from several of the show’s judges.
New head judge Shirley Ballas said earlier this year: “They’re just about to have the final of the Italian version of Strictly, and I was just informed that a same-sex couple, two men, made the final, so I will be following that.
“I think things are changing, and I couldn’t think of anything more exciting. I’m for it!”
Judge Craig Revel Horwood has long been a supporter of permitting same-sex dance couples on the show.