In 2021, it seems same-sex pairings on dance contests are becoming commonplace. Producers of Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with The Stars have been casting same-sex pairings ten years before they reached the UK and the USA. Dorit Milman & Gili Shem Tov were trailblazers in the Israeli edition of DWTS back in 2010. We decided to look at some of the celebrity dancers who led the charge for queer representation on our screens.
JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson
Dance Moms alumni and possibly the worlds most famous Gen Z’er – Jojo Siwa is the first dancer to compete in a same-sex pairing – on the American edition of Dancing with the Stars. She rose to fame as a shining light for the Abby Lee Dance Company with her infectious charisma. Probably best known by the bow in her hair, Siwa used YouTube to amass over 12 million subscribers, and over 3.6 billion video views. The then 17-year-old came out as pansexual via social media back in April 2021. Her dance background and Queer pride make her the perfect candidate for the first same-sex winner of the US franchise.
John Whaite & Johannes Radebe
The celebrity baker became the first all-male partnership with Johannes Radebe on Strictly Come Dancing. Best known for winning Bake Off in 2012, Whaite set his sights on the glitterball in the 2021 series. Strictly fans have already fallen in love with the pair and bookies have the couple earmarked as early favourites. In a recent interview, Whaite described his pairing with Radebe as the first time in 32 years he felt comfortable about his sexuality. The biggest beneficiary of this pairing is the young Queer kids seeing themselves represented on prime-time television.
Courtney Act & Joshua Keefe
The former Australian Idol contestant, RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist and Celebrity Big Brother winner took to ballroom dancing in 2019 in the Australian version of Dancing with the Stars. Fresh off her attempt to educate Ann Widecombe on Queer issues in the British Big Brother house. Courtney and her partner Joshua Keefe, finished as runners up behind Aussie-actor Samuel Johnson. The pair were the first same-sex pairing to grace the dancefloor down under.
Brian Dowling & Kai Widdrington
The 2020 edition of Irish Dancing with the Stars featured the reality TV legend and Big Brother winner and host, Brian Dowling. The competition took place at a time where LGBTQIA+ issues are controversial in the Irish political landscape. Dowling cites the abuse he and his husband faced as his inspiration for taking part in the Irish series. Unfortunately, the pair were eliminated in their first week – you can’t win everything I suppose, Brian!
Nicola Adams & Katya Jones
The undefeated, boxing Olympian was cast in the 2020 edition of Strictly Come Dancing. Her run as the first same-sex pairing on the British series was cut short after her dance partner contracted Covid-19 in the height of the pandemic. In a series marred with Covid-19, self-isolation measures meant Adams was unable to compete and had to forfeit her place in the competition – in which she was one of the favourites. Surely, she deserves one last dance.