Strictly Come Dancing: Susan Calman 'offended' by dance partner row

By Lauren Turner
Entertainment reporter

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionCalman said her wife would be at the Strictly studio to see her dance

Susan Calman has strongly defended her decision as an openly gay woman to dance with a male professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing.

The Scottish comedian and writer has faced criticism on social media for taking part in the show - because it does not have same-sex dancing couples.

Calman said the criticism had offended her, adding: "No one can say I haven't stood up for my community."

It is understood show bosses have not ruled out same-sex couples in future.

'I have protested, I have fought'

Calman is one of 15 celebrities taking to the dance floor on the BBC One contest.

The stars will find out who their professional partners are in the launch show, broadcast on Saturday night.

The 42-year-old 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.

She said: "I think politically, there's nothing more powerful than having an openly gay woman on the biggest show on television, whose wife's on the front row, doing what she wants to do."

image captionCalman has also written a book about depression, called Cheer Up Love

She added: "For the gay community to criticise me and try to get me what they want to do is, I think, as difficult as suggesting the straight community are trying to.

"No one is holding me hostage in this room, making me wear a dress and dance with a man. I want to learn how to dance."

'Getting the brunt'

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 have protested, I have picketed, I have fought, I have been spat on, I have been punched - and I want to dance," she said.

"There will be a time for same-sex dancing. I think what annoyed me slightly is that I seem to be getting it in the neck.

"Will Young didn't get it, Judge Rinder didn't get it, Richard Coles isn't getting it. It seems to me as a woman, he's not getting it the same way I am.

"And for me to be getting it is, I think, unfair. I seem to be getting the brunt of the LGBT community."

image captionRichard Coles is the first vicar to take part in the show

Coles, meanwhile, said he would be more than happy to dance with a male partner.

He said: "We've had a discussion about it actually, and I don't know. I mean, it's in no sense that anyone resists the idea in principle, it's just a question of doing it.

"I think it's a good year to do it actually, with the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Decriminalisation Act."

'Ignoring the impact'

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."

image copyrightBBC/Getty Images/PA
image captionThe 15 contenders for the Strictly glitterball trophy

Calman, who regularly appears on TV and radio panel shows, has also spoken about the issue on social media.

She received support from fans with one saying, tongue in cheek: "You're not a straight man, so must ALWAYS represent your sex/sexual orientation/short stature!"

A Strictly Come Dancing spokeswoman said: "Strictly has chosen the traditional format of mixed-sex couples and at the moment we have no plans to introduce same-sex couples in the competition."

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