11/09/2017 08:46 BST | Updated 11/09/2017 11:50 BST

'Strictly Come Dancing' Contestant Susan Calman Defends Decision To Dance With A Man

'No one can say I haven’t stood up for my community.'

‘Strictly Come Dancing’ contestant Susan Calman has defended her decision to dance with a man on this year’s series.

Over the weekend, Susan was moved to tears in this year’s ‘Strictly’ launch when it was revealed that she had been partnered with professional dancer Kevin Clifton, admitting he was the pro she’d most wanted as she even has a picture of him stuck on her fridge.

However, in an interview conducted before the launch was filmed, the comedian, who is gay, hit back at detractors who suggested that she should be dancing with a female professional rather than a man, something which has never been done on ‘Strictly’ before.

Mike Marsland via Getty Images
Susan Calman at the 'Strictly' red carpet launch

She told the BBC: No one can say I haven’t stood up for my community.

“I think politically, there’s nothing more powerful than having an openly gay woman on the biggest show on television, whose wife’s on the front row, doing what she wants to do.”

Susan continued: “For the gay community to criticise me and try to get me what they want to do is, I think, as difficult as suggesting the straight community are trying to.

“No one is holding me hostage in this room, making me wear a dress and dance with a man. I want to learn how to dance… I have protested, I have picketed, I have fought, I have been spat on, I have been punched - and I want to dance.”

In response to the criticism, Susan also suggested she was under more scrutiny as a woman than other gay men who have danced on the show in the past, including current competitor Reverend Richard Coles.

She added: “I think what annoyed me slightly is that I seem to be getting it in the neck.

“Will Young didn’t get it, Judge Rinder didn’t get it, Richard Coles isn’t getting it. It seems to me as a woman, he’s not getting it the same way I am.

“And for me to be getting it is, I think, unfair.”

Long-serving judge Craig Revel Horwood has previously said he’d be keen to see same-sex partnerships on the ‘Strictly’ dance floor, claiming in 2015 that this would “most certainly” become a reality in future series.

Following this year’s launch, the 15 couples will hit the dance floor for the first time on Saturday 23 September on BBC One.

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