Australian drag star Courtney Act has said Nicola Adams’ same-sex pairing on Strictly Come Dancing will “flip people’s expectations on their head”.
Last year, Act made history as part of the first same-sex couple to feature on Dancing With The Stars Australia, part of the Strictly franchise.
Act, the alter-ego of Shane Jenek, said Olympic gold medal-winning boxer Adams’ presence in the line-up would inspire young women.
The 38-year-old told the PA news agency: “I’m so excited to see Nicola on the dance floor and finally see a same-sex coupling on Strictly. I think people will be shocked that the sky doesn’t fall in.
“I’m excited as well because Nicola is going to be the leader, so in ballroom there is a leader and follower – some people might know these as the man or the woman roles.
“I’m excited to have her flip people’s expectations on their head when she is spinning across the dance floor and lifting and leading.”
Act said it is important for “people and especially young girls around the UK and around the world to see a black bisexual woman leading a ballroom dance”.
She was paired with professional partner Joshua Keefe on Dancing With The Stars Australia and finished second on the show.
Earlier this year, Steps star Ian “H” Watkins competed in Dancing On Ice as part of a male-male pairing.
Act, who rose to fame on RuPaul’s Drag Race, urged Adams to ignore any backlash.
She said: “There’s always going to be this vocal minority, especially on the internet because you get a disproportionate volume of negativity.
“Ultimately, they represent such a small portion of the population. Focusing on the support and the love is so much more worthwhile.”
Act stressed the importance of visibility, saying: “It’s so important, not just to how the queer community sees itself, but to how society sees itself as well.
“When you see people on television who reflect what society really looks like, not only do those people who are minorities feel more included and understood, but also the wider community are able to look and go ‘Their stories are just like my stories – we are not that different’.”
Former Strictly Come Dancing champion Stacey Dooley was also among those cheering the news.
The documentary maker, who lifted the Glitterball trophy in 2018 alongside now-boyfriend Kevin Clifton, said the move was “long overdue”.
She said on Twitter: “Strictly are doing a same sex couple and YES THIS IS LONG OVERDUE!”
The Women In Sport charity said in a tweet: “Fantastic to see boxing legend Nicola Adams challenging the status quo as part of the first same-sex pairing on Strictly Come Dancing!”
The British LGBT Awards tweeted: “To have Nicola Adams in the first same-sex pairing on #Strictly is a momentous change for the better!
“We’ll be celebrating like it’s Eurovision ’97 no matter what happens!”
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, a long-standing Strictly fan, praised the BBC for “breaking new ground”.
“I’ll be interested to see who takes the lead.” 💃🕺
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) September 2, 2020
In an interview with Sky News journalist Kay Burley, Ms Coffey said: “I think it’s a new adventure to the BBC. They’re used to breaking new ground on the dance floor.
“It will be interesting to see who leads and who doesn’t.”
However, Burley challenged the Conservative MP over her decision to vote against the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2013.
Ms Coffey replied: “I took the view at the time, and I still hold to that, I have a strong faith background about what is a legal partnership and what is marriage, but that is not a question for today.
“I am a great believer in live and let live, and it’ll be interesting to see.”
Ms Coffey refused to say whether she would vote for Adams but said: “I’ve got the feeling Nicola Adams may well take the lead.”