Strictly’s John Whaite was cruelly outed to his mum by teacher he came out to
Strictly Come Dancing star John Whaite has revealed that he was outed at a young age to his mum by a teacher that he trusted.
The Great British Bake Off winner recalled how he came out as gay to his head of year in year nine.
“I fearfully fumbled with the phrase ‘I’m gay’ for those 60 minutes, but every time I wanted to blurt it out my own tongue asphyxiated me, rendering me speechless,” he wrote.
“It was, and for many still is, a horrific cliff edge to be standing on, because once said, there’s no taking it back: no re-entry to the closet.”
At the end of the lunch break, his head of year “brushed the creases out of her trouser legs” after she stood up and said: “I think I know what you want to say and it’s fine.”
Whaite said he felt “more confused” by his teacher’s words and felt “ashamed” that he couldn’t “just shout it from the rooftops”. But he continued his day like normal, “hanging out with my gang of girls while all the other lads played footy”.
When he got home, his mum called him into the study. It was where they had serious discussions, he said, like they did after he lost his virginity to a “girl at a charity garden party”.
Whaite’s mum told him that the head of year called to tell her that he had came out as gay.
“I could feel the ground beneath me dissolve as my stomach rose to my throat and shame washed over me,” Whaite wrote.
He continued: “I didn’t know how to respond, what to say. Do I deny it? I thought.
“I remember her saying we should keep it to ourselves for now.
“She was afraid to tell my stepfather because she just didn’t know how he might respond – 20 years ago straight men were different than they seem to be today.”
John Whaite remembered climbing into his sister’s bed and crying himself to sleep. When he woke up, his sister was standing in the doorway and assured him that she loved him, giving Whaite some comfort after the horrific incident.
“When I woke up, she simply said ‘I love you and it doesn’t matter to me what you are’,” Whaite said. “Then she left. That soothed the bitter sting I was feeling.”
Whaite added that it’s taken him years to “deal with this baggage” but believed it has ultimately made him an “empathic, resilient person who is quite in tune with his own psychology”.
John Whaite and his Strictly dancing partner Johannes Radebe made it to the grand finale in December, narrowly losing the glitterball trophy to EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice.
But Whaite hasn’t let the loss dim the huge impact that the series had on him and LGBTQ+ fans. He wrote on Instagram that he was proud to have been part of “such a diverse, groundbreaking series” and hoped everyone could “cherish” something from the show.
“What started life as an entertainment show has this year provided solace for so many outcasts,” he wrote.
“Whoever you may be, I pray you always have the heart to be kind, to be understanding and to love. It really is as simple as that.”
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