Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: BBC
As the sequins and spandex come out for a new series of Strictly Come Dancing, BBC Radio 2's Richie Anderson has spoken about his experience receiving hateful comments ahead of his dancing debut.
The 34-year-old radio presenter will be joining the show and pairing up with a male dancing partner, marking the show's third-ever same-sex pairing.
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Richie will be following in the glittering footsteps of TV chef John Whaite and Olympic boxer Nicola Adams who individually marked the first same-sex dance pairings with their partners Johannes Radebe and Katya Jones, respectively.
The introduction of same-sex dance couples on Strictly has been met with some backlash previously, with online hate targeted at these specific couples but Anderson is taking it all in his stride.
“I don’t pay much attention to trolls online. At the end of the day, I’m doing something that I’ve always wanted to do and enjoying myself,” Anderson shared to HuffingtonPost UK.
"We often focus on the trolls a lot, but on my Instagram… there’s a lot of love, and more people are positive than negative," he continued. "So, if somebody wants to take 10 seconds of their day to say something arsey to me online, then that’s more on them than me. I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing."
He adds that he's already "having fun" on the show and that he is "so grateful" to join the competition for the coveted glitterball trophy so it's a shame that anyone is being rude or hateful towards his partnership on the show.
It’s getting real now 🕺 I’m so grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I’ve been an audience member at many #Strictly tours & also at It Takes Two, so to be a contestant this year is just 🤯 just want to say thank you for all the kind messages so far ❤️ @bbcstrictly https://t.co/WFPGjsNLBw— Richie Anderson (@richie_anderson) September 2, 2022
Anderson goes on to remark that the same-sex partnerships that came before him were really his inspiration to partake this year: "Watching John and Johannes last year, and Nicola and Katya the year before, they were majestic and I wish, for me, as a gay teenager growing up that I would have had that representation on television."
John Whaite made history last year with partner Radebe, they made it to the final but were beaten by deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and her dance partner Giovanni Pernice.
This year, we'll keep our fingers crossed for Anderson to go far. But regardless, he's adding to the primetime representation of the LGBTQ+ community on screen.
Both couples were celebrated for representing the LGBTQ community on screen. At the same time, both couples also saw people questioning their validity as pairings and even the necessity, as well as some who directed vile, homophobic abuse at the couples.
The Attitude September/October issue is out now.