TV

Strictly viewers left in tears after John Whaite and Johannes Radebe tell the world: ‘It gets better’

Josh Milton December 12, 2021
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Strictly's John Whaite and Johannes Radebe look at the camera after dancing

Strictly's John Whaite and Johannes Radebe danced to Adele during the semi-finals. (Screen capture via Twitter/BBC One)

Strictly Come Dancing viewers were left in tears as John Whaite and Johannes Radebe delivered a stunning semi-finals performance.

On Saturday night (11 December), the pair took to the ballroom for a glorious Couple’s Choice to “Hometown Glory” by Adele, who famously invented humanity’s ability to have emotions.

It was a powerful performance that head judge Shirley Ballas dubbed “stunningly beautiful” – but it was actually the messages of support from the dancing duo’s loved ones that had fans ugly crying.

Before taking to the floor, a tearful Whaite and Radebe reflected on what it means for them to be the BBC One show’s first all-male pairing – especially for the viewers at home who might not be ready to be as out and proud as them.

“To the people who perhaps feel a bit afraid in life,” said the Great British Bake Off winner, “I want those people to know that it gets better.”

Whaite said that the first person he ever spoke about being gay to was a teacher. Aged just 14, the teacher outed him to his family, “which I wasn’t ready for.”

But despite this, his family was supportive and loved him all the same – parenting 101, right there.

Whaite said: “It just reminds me of how much we needed that when we were little and it was never there.

“I grew up with a great deal of shame and I think if I’d seen two men dancing together on television it would have changed my life.”

He added: “I want to dedicate our couple’s choice dance to the people who perhaps feel a bit afraid in life and I want those people to know it gets better, believe me.”

“You see that, gay men crying because of being supported,” tweeted a user. “That’s what years of trauma does.”

After the dance, Whaite added: “If we’d had this on TV when we were younger, life would have been a completely different place.”

Strictly‘s John Whaite and Johannes Radebe leaves fans a ‘blubbering wreck’

For many viewers, Whaite and Radebe’s appearance on the beloved programme is a milestone in long-sought queer representation on British television, one where many are still haunted by Section 28.

The loathed legislation, introduced by Tory premier Margaret Thatcher, banned the “promotion” of homosexuality by schools and local authorities.

“I always find it far too emotionally difficult to describe how Section 28 personally affected me,” said one user. “Thank you John and Johannes for articulating so powerfully what too many of us faced & felt.”

Another added: “I watched Strictly every week when I was little at my Grandparents and my life would have been that little bit easier seeing John and Johannes.”

And many, many viewers agreed. Twitter users touched by Whaite and Radebe’s honesty and passion in their routines were cheering them on to get to the finale of the glitterball.

More: Johannes Radebe, john whaite, Strictly Come Dancing

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