Craig Revel Horwood has said he was “completely homophobic” and suppressed his sexuality for years.
The Strictly Come Dancing judge said that being bullied as a teenager and called homophobic slurs like “pansy” and “p**fter” by classmates, led to him internalising the hate and staying closeted for decades.
“I was completely homophobic,” admitted the 58-year-old. “But when I went to the theatre, when I did my first dance class, the people there were lovely, and people started praising me.
“They were older and accepting, and I loved it... I liked those people, and I knew I didn’t like people at school. I was traumatised at school, but dance released that."
Revel Horwood, who was abused by his alcoholic father growing up in Australia, also told the Guardian’s G2 that he was a “misfit” in school.
“When I was at school, I had very limited friends; I just did not fit in at all..." he told the publication. “That’s why I went to the dance classes; people were telling me I was good at it, and it was the first thing I’d ever been good at.”
The BBC ballroom show star suggested that, despite finally fitting into the dance community, the abuse and lack of acceptance from his youth still prevented him from fully coming out as a young adult. This led to him identifying as bisexual and marrying Jane Horwood from 1990 to 1992.
Horwood cheated on him leading to the end of the union. “If that relationship had worked out, I could have seen a life where I would have [still] been married to a woman and had kids, without a shadow of a doubt...
“It’s who you meet along the way and what changes it; it’s quite extraordinary.”
The TV personality also reflected on how difficult it was to be gay in the 1980s with the onset of the HIV Aids epidemic.
“Everyone was ill-informed, they called it the gay plague. And, yes, a lot of my friends died and I had to witness that," he said.
“They were 21-year-olds dying, 22-year-olds, people who hadn’t even lived their lives... sometimes wonder, how did I escape that?”
Revel Horwood will next grace our screens alongside fellow judges Shirley Ballas, Anton Du Beke and Motsi Mabuse when Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Saturday (September 16) at 6.35pm.