Wigan's Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite expressed fears to partner before accepting Strictly Come Dancing same-sex offer
Strictly Come Dancing star John Whaite has revealed he expressed concerns to his boyfriend before accepting the offer to dance in a same-sex couple on the show.
The former Great British Bake Off winner, 32, is dancing with South African pro Johannes Radebe on the BBC series as part of its first male-male pairing.
He told Hello! magazine he had fretted to his partner, graphic designer Paul Atkins, who he met 13 years ago through Facebook.
Whaite said: “He told me, ‘Don’t do it if you feel that way’.
“My emotional wellbeing was all that mattered to him and that’s one of the things I love most about Paul.
“Deep down I knew that doing Strictly was the right thing to do. It was time to flick the switch and, as Jo says every day, go for gold.”
Radebe added: “There was no doubt in my mind that the dance side of it would work, but I was scared of the reaction it could bring.
“I thought criticism would come from all sides. After speaking to my therapist I realised what was holding me back was still feeling ashamed.
“Despite my fear, I couldn’t let this opportunity go to anyone else.”
Both have turned off most of their social media accounts in a bid to block out homophobic abuse.
Whaite has deleted his Twitter account permanently and describes the site as “a breeding ground for toxic opinion”.
Radebe added: “I did it for the sake of my mental health. For me to function properly and give John the experience he deserves, I need to be fit mentally and physically.
“If you consider what people are saying about you on social media you would never survive an experience like this.”
However, the pair also celebrated the positive impact of their same-sex pairing.
Radebe said: “John and I dancing together demonstrates that we live in a progressive society, but it stands for something far bigger than we actually realise.
“There are still societies that don’t accept homosexuality and where people don’t have human rights.
“That’s one reason why it’s important to keep breaking down those barriers and people seeing John and me on the dance floor is a big step towards that. If we win, that message would be even louder.”
Read the full interview in Hello! magazine, out now.