Opinion: Why Strictly’s same-sex performance matters

A same-sex couple recently performed on Strictly Come Dancing for the first time.

Public response was somewhat mixed with nearly 200 complaints being made to the BBC. Despite this, an overwhelming majority of people reacted positively, including some noteworthy figures.

Lorraine Kelly defended the move on Twitter.

A show with as wide a reach as Strictly featuring two men in a situation typically reserved for a man and a woman goes a long way to normalising LGBTQ identities.

While this may sound like a bold claim at first, it’s warranted.

Positive representation is vital when so much entertainment shies away from the fact people like you even exist. Fearing being accused of pushing an agenda or pandering.

This is especially significant given not only its reach, but its status as a family show. Something the entire household sits down to watch together.

For many younger viewers this could be their first time seeing anything other than a man and a woman in a scenario that, while not explicitly romantic is at least romantically charged.

Planting the idea that same sex couples not only exist but are valid.

An audience as big as strictly’s is also going to have some younger viewers that are LGBTQ but haven’t realised. Seeing two men dancing together on its own is unlikely to spark that revelation but it could well be a step in the right direction. One that previous generations would not have and would have benefitted from.

 

A man and a woman competing at a dance contest

 

Older viewers that are perhaps not as well informed when it comes to other sexualities may come away more open to the idea.

This is the value of presenting other identities to a wide audience.

It’s not going to magic away all homophobia but it presents the idea in a non confrontational way. Giving people that haven’t previously considered it the opportunity to, and the more skeptical but not openly hateful the chance to reconsider.

The more of these opportunities we get the better. For LGBTQ people as it directly make our lives safer, in a world that has made progress but still has some ways to go. For everyone else by giving them an opportunity to learn and grow.