Strictly Come Dancing star Johannes Radebe has revealed that he had dreamed of being able to dance with a man as his partner since he took his first lesson aged seven.
As most will be aware, that dream became a reality in 2021 when Radebe was part of the first-ever all-male pairing to compete on the BBC One show.
The professional dancer had been part of the Strictly line-up since 2018, but made history when he and baker John Whaite became the show’s first all-male couple, as well as the first gay pairing.
Johannes Radebe and John Whaite made history in 2021 as Strictly’s first all-male pairing. (Getty)
While they may not have taken home the Glitterball trophy – having just narrowly lost out to Rose Ayling-Ellis – the pair successfully moved viewers to tears with their soul-stirring routines each week, and inspired countless viewers at home who might have been building up the courage to come out.
Not only that, but Radebe achieved a childhood dream that he had been told would never be possible.
In a new interview with The Guardian, the South Africa native recalled stumbling into his first dance class by accident when he was just seven years old. It was love at first glide for the ballroom dancer, who developed a sense of belonging and confidence that he had been missing.
“I knew there was a world where I didn’t have to feel ashamed, because people understood where I came from,” he told the publication.
Johannes Radebe had dreamt of being able to dance with another man since he started dancing at age seven. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)
“When I went back into the real world, everything seemed so bland. That dance world was sparkly, kind, it was accommodating.”
While it wasn’t long before Radebe started competing in Latin and ballroom dance contests, the dancer had always wished he could dance with another man.
Radebe recalled the first time he asked if he could dance with another man, aged just seven, and was told no.
“You can imagine what it did for my shame, thinking that I always had to hide that about me,” he shared.
“I’ve always asked myself: what would that feel like?”
As a result, when Radebe finally got the chance to dance with a male partner, he knew just how much it would mean to viewers at home.
Radebe finally had his childhood dream come true when he got to partner with John Whaite in 2021. ((C) BBC – Photographer: Kieron McCarron)
“I knew how many people would have looked at that moment and felt seen,” he said.
“I’ve seen what that has done for so many people, and I hear the stories still today. That’s how I know that we’ve left the world a better place, just by doing what we do.”
While Radebe said he would have loved to have grown up in the world that he and Whaite helped to create, he’s glad he gets to exist in it at all.
“There was never anything wrong with me, yet the society around me made me believe there was,” said the dancer.
“After that you couldn’t touch me. I can’t tell you what it did for my confidence.”