Strictly Come Dancing’s Johannes Radebe has recalled the horrific homophobic abuse he suffered during his childhood.
Johannes first joined the Strictly franchise back in 2014 when he was a professional dancer on the South African version of the show, before moving to the UK version in 2018.
As a professional, Johannes has also been paired with Catherine Tyldesley, Caroline Quentin, and, last year, Ellie Taylor.
In the 2021 series, he finished as runner-up as one half of a same-sex couple with Great British Bake Off's John Whaite.
Speaking to The Guardian, the 35 year old dancer opened up about the horrendous physical and verbal abuse he suffered while at school in the township of Zamdela, near Johannesburg.
He explained: "School was horrid. They used to say to me, ‘Oh, sissy boy!’."
The star heartbreakingly added that the taunts did not end there as he often faced physical violence.
Johannes continued: "If I was close by I would have been punched, which I was many times."
While he’s undoubtedly glad to live in the UK now, he also noted the country has a “long way to go still” despite people making an effort to "coexist."
Johannes credits dancing as helping him get through the hard times, as when “the music started playing and I knew there was a place where no one can touch me."
He added that he wants to "share with everybody" how much "joy and freedom this brings.”
Johannes and John's inclusion in the 2018 series of Strictly was widely praised by fans and critics, with many viewers taking to social media to thank the duo for representing the LGBTQ+ community.
During the live final, one fan tweeted: “Never been a more deserving winner than @RoseAylingEllis. Absolutely inspirational. This has been the best final episode of #Strictly I have ever watched. John was also incredible. Representation matters, this series will have changed lives."
“This year, Strictly has been fab-u-lous. I am an emotional wreck watching Rose and Giovanni. Congratulations to them," wrote another. "John and Johannes were an inspiration. Well done BBC. You have lifted my spirits in a difficult year."
Commenting on the almost-win, John said: “We just want to thank you all so much for voting, for the support, for tuning in, and most importantly I want to say a huge congratulations to Rose and Giovanni. Definitely worthy winners.”
“I can’t wait to celebrate with them when we’re allowed to,” he added.
"What happened between John and I last year really changed my relationship with my mother – for the first time, we can speak about my sexuality openly,” Johannes had previously gushed.
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