British boxer scores TV first with same-sex dance debut

Nicola Adams and Maria Salinas, Britain, September 27, 2019 – Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Bisexual British boxer, Nicola Adams, will become the first person to compete with a same-sex dance partner in the hit show, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, the BBC announced on Wednesday, in a coup for LGBT+ representation on primetime television.

“It’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry,” the double Olympic gold medal winner said in a statement.

The long-running show pairs celebrities with professional dancers, who teach them a routine each week, with varying degrees of success, and one couple is eventually crowned victor for prowess in everything from jive to samba.

Despite the frenzy of sequins, glamour, and camp that has made it a favourite with many LGBT+ fans, the show has only featured male-female contestant pairings in the previous 17 series, fuelling calls for same-sex representation.

Campaigners welcomed news that Adams, who retired from boxing last year, would break the mould when she dances with a female professional in the upcoming series.

“I’m really thrilled,” said Libby Baxter-Williams, the director of bisexual women’s organisation Biscuit.

“I hope that it normalises same-sex relationships, and especially same-sex relationships with a bi partner as I think we don’t see a lot of that on TV.”

The show has featured occasional same-sex dances outside the main contest, with a group performance in 2018, and a routine by two male professional dancers last year, that drew 189 complaints from viewers.

Reaction to Adams’ debut was overwhelmingly positive.

“Finally, a camp show that relies on queer aesthetics based on a dance culture THAT ROUTINELY FEATURES SAME SEX COUPLES has allowed them on tv,” said Rebecca Harrison, a lecturer in film and TV studies at the University of Glasgow, in a Twitter post.

“I can’t think of a better person to kick start what will hopefully be a lasting change for Strictly,” said another Twitter user.

-Sonia Elks @soniaelks – Thomson Reuters Foundation

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