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Strictly Come Dancing star and fan favourite John Whaite broke down in tears on Saturday's live semi-final, as he revealed he'd been forcibly outed as gay as a teenager.
John was explaining the meaning behind his Couple's Choice routine with his professional partner Johannes Radebe during the pre-recorded segment of the show before performing the dance live.
He explained: "Johannes and I are dancing our Couple's Choice.
"I grew up on a farm just outside of Wigan in Lancashire. In the morning I would get up, feed the calves and then go to school. I'm very grateful for the upbringing that I've had."
John continued: "My family and I are so close."
His sister Jane admitted: "When we were younger, he was just like the average little brother. It's amazing really that John would end up on the television."
And John went on: "My family first learned that I was gay when I was about 14, 15. I told a teacher at school in confidence, and the teacher told my family, which I wasn't ready for."
The tears were flowing freely as John recalled: "I remember my sister said to me, 'We love you, you're our brother and we love you no matter what you are'.
"When I was younger I was bullied quite a bit at school for being quite camp, and my sisters did not put up with that. To have them fighting my corner… that counterbalanced every single word of hate," he emotionally added.
His sister Victoria then added: "We did feel very protective over him, I always have and I always will. I'm really proud of him."
And John went on to admit that Strictly had initially been a daunting experience, as he said through his tears: "When I first signed up for Strictly, as excited as I was, I have to admit that I was apprehensive about dancing with another man.
"I was expecting the world to not be ready for it."
As John took in the emotional messages from fans thanking him for his influence, he murmured to Johannes: "It just reminds me how much we needed that when we were little, and it was never there."
And he soon has Johannes in floods of tears with him, as the pro dancer covered his eyes with one hand to wipe away the tears.
John said: "I love that the world has changed. But I grew up with a great deal of shame. If we'd had two men on television dancing together, without any question, I think it would have changed my life.
"I want to dedicate our Couple's Choice dance to the people who perhaps feel a bit afraid in life. And I want those people to know that it gets better, believe me."
And the dance proved a show-stopper, receiving an incredible 39 points from the judges.
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- Strictly Come Dancing
- John Whaite
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