It was announced that Olympic Boxing Champion, Nicola Adams OBE, will make Strictly Come Dancing history by becoming the first contestant to be in a same-sex pairing. Nicola Adams revealed it was her idea to have a female partner when asked to join the show by the BBC’s producers, and thanked the BBC for “supporting me and making me the first ever all female-pairing. It’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry.” The new Strictly show starts in October.
Nicola, who retired last year from professional boxing with her perfect record intact and holding the prestigious WBO Women’s Flyweight Championship, first made history aged 18 in 2001 when she became the very first female boxer representing England at a Boxing Championship. Nicola rose to fame by winning Gold at the London 2012 Olympics, becoming the first Olympic Women’s Boxing gold medallist. She followed that up by winning the Women’s Flyweight Championship at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Nicola cemented her legacy by successfully defending her Olympic title in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Later she was awarded an OBE for her outstanding achievement and commitment to boxing!
After her amazing successes in boxing, Nicola can add another formidable accolade to her cabinetafter achieving a ground-breaking milestone for Strictly Come Dancing which had previously only shown same-sex professional couples, never a contestant with a professional dancer, despite having had LGBTI+ contestants in the past. After 16 years, many feel it is long overdue, but this progress and step in the right direction is to be celebrated!
Aratrust very much welcomes this news as it goes a long way to breaking down the barriers and negative diversity stereotypes associated with the entertainment industry.
Barnardo’s has published a report highlighting that especially in the light of a global pandemic, a significant number of the UK’s most vulnerable young people are feeling isolated and are experiencing mental health issues (up to a third of young people polled experienced heightened mental health challenges).
Among LGBTI+ young people this number dramatically increases as they often find themselves locked down in unsympathetic or unaccepting family environments with very limited support from their friendship networks. Results from a survey conducted by the Belong To charity in Ireland reveals that over 60% of LGBTI+ young people across the Republic of Ireland are experiencing loneliness and a loss of belonging. Belong To’s survey found:
- 53% of LGBTI+ young people stated their home environment as ‘not good’
- 55% of LGBTI+ young people are struggling with suicide ideation
- only 8% of LGBTI+ young people are engaged in employment
- 23% of LGBTI+ young people regarded their physical health as “very bad” or “bad”
Nicola Adams becoming the first Strictly same-sex contestant could provide an opportunity for some young people to connect with her as a role model and feel a sense of community seeing some of their own self in a remarkable young woman championing change and breaking that ‘glass ceiling’. Nicola, herself, stated “I think it’s really important. It’s definitely time for change, it’s definitely time to move on and be more diverse and this is a brilliant step in the right direction. It’ll be nice for the LGBT community to see there are same-sex couples on the show.”
Aratrust agrees with Nicola with respect to the message that her stance paints to LGBTQI+ youngsters and those that are struggling with their sexuality.