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Steps singer Ian “H” Watkins has teamed up with professional skater Matt Evers in the new series of the ITV show.
“For me, growing up I never had any visibility like this, nobody I could look up to,” said Watkins, who publicly came out in 2007, said.
It marks the first time a same-sex couple have been paired together on a competitive reality TV show in the UK.
Barrowman, 51, has been a leading supporter of the decision to introduce same-sex couples on the show, and been a vocal critic of others that have yet to catch up.
“It’s about time and we should have two women skating together, two men skating together and men and women skating together. It should be reflective of how we live our lives,” he told OK! Online.
“I implore and say to all the other competitive shows on TV that have couples involved, you know who I’m talking about – get with the times, get with the programme don’t worry about people being upset about these things.”
Barrowman, who replaces Jason Gardiner as a judge on the ice-skating competition, added: “If they don’t like it you should have the big enough cajones to change turn the channel and don’t watch. If you don’t like to switch it off. Everyone should be representing who the people are. “
Strictly included a same-sex routine in last year’s series, when professional dancers Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima danced together during a performance by the singer Emeli Sandé.
Radebe – who is gay – told Hello! magazine that the groundbreaking routine made him feel that “for the first time in my life, I feel accepted for who I am” and that being able to perform with di Prima, who is in a heterosexual relationship, “says so much about the people of this country”.
In response to the 189 complaints made to Ofcom about the moment, the BBC responded: “Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and is proud to have been able to facilitate the dance between Johannes and Graziano during the Professionals’ dance. They are dancers first and foremost, and their sex had no bearing on their routine.”
A statement released by the BBC in August 2019 said that the show was “completely open to the prospect of including same-sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers in the future, should the opportunity arise”.