Susan Calman has strongly defended her decision as an openly gay woman to dance with a male professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing.
The comedian and writer has faced criticism on social media for taking part in the show – because it does not have same-sex dancing couples.
However, in an interview conducted before the launch was filmed, Calman, hit back at detractors who suggested that she should be dancing with a female professional rather than a man, something which has never been done on the show before.
I want to dance with a man and I think, sometimes, politically there’s nothing more powerful than having an openly gay woman on the biggest show on television – who’s wife’s in the front row – doing what she wants to do.”
Calman said she was “absolutely not disappointed” that she would not be paired with a woman and that it was her decision to dance with a man.
For the gay community to criticise me and to try and get me to do what they want to do is, I think, as difficult as suggesting the straight community are trying to… nobody is holding me hostage in this room, making me wear a dress and dance with a man. I, I want to learn how to dance.
I have protested. I have picketed. I have fought. I have been spat on. I’ve been punched, and I want to dance. I think for the gay community, specifically, there will be a time for same-sex dancing.
Calman suggested she was receiving more flack as a gay woman than gay male contestants had done on the dance show – including The Reverend Richard Coles, a fellow member of the “class of 2017”.
I think what annoyed me slightly is that I seem to be getting it in the neck and Will Young didn’t get it, Judge Rinder didn’t get it and Richard Coles isn’t getting it.
I seem to be getting the brunt of the LGBT community. A lot of people are very supportive of my decision, but it’s making this about my sexuality instead of a woman wanting to lean how to dance. Nobody can say I haven’t stood up for my community.
So, the idea that people are depressed or upset by it, I think, offends me because I’ve done a fuck of a lot for that community!”
That’s someone else’s decision. My decision, which I’ve clearly stated, is that I want to dance with a man. I want to learn how to ballroom dance. If someone else wants to do that, that’s fine.
Calman, who presents daytime quiz The Boss and children’s programme Top Class, said the issue had become “a bigger deal than it should have”.
To put the weight of the LGBT community on me – and changing platforms and changing perceptions – is unfair, upsetting and is ignoring the impact I will have in the biggest show on television.
A lot of people are very supportive of my decision, but it’s making this about my sexuality instead of a woman wanting to learn how to dance. The idea that people are depressed by it or upset by it, I think offends me because I’ve done… a lot for that community.”
Calman is one of 15 celebrities taking to the dance floor on the BBC One contest.