Staff Write cityXtra Magazine
Dancing on Ice star Matt Evers has come out as gay – and spoken about his upbringing.
Evers is set to appear in the revival of the popular ITV figure skating show as a professional dancer, paired with Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown.
He also appeared on the original series for nine years, dancing with female celebrities including Bonnie Langford, Lisa Scott-Lee and Pamela Anderson.
In an interview with Attitude Magazine, Evers, a former US junior figure skating champion, spoke about his sexuality publicly for the first time.
He said that the anti-LGBT backlash in the US and the Presidency of Donald Trump had spurred his decision to come out.
The figure skater said: “Donald Trump has given a voice to the bullies. Trump himself is a bully and I’m very outspoken about that,” he says.
“I live my life by example, and I want to show young people that what you feel or how you were born isn’t something bad.”
Though it’s his official coming out, Evers previously starred in Up4aMeet, a 2012 stage play about gay men dating online.
The dancer also spoke about his gay uncle, who died in the AIDS crisis after becoming estranged.
He told Attitude: “He was part of the original San Francisco and New York Fire Island crowd back in the 70s and 80s.
“I didn’t know I was gay at the time, but when he was dying it hit me really hard that he didn’t know the love of his mum, my grandmother.
“They were strict Catholics at the tip of the Bible belt. I wasn’t aware of why his passing and the thought of him never being accepted by his own family hurt me so much until I realised I was gay.
“It’s scary, the difference between generations.”
The Catholic Church in the US continues to take a hardline stance on homosexuality and shun the LGBT community.
Last year leaked memos revealed one Catholic diocese had told priests to turn down the funerals of gay people.
The messages ask priests to consider whether the deceased was gay and if they had “repented” before dying.
It also calls for “manifest sinners” to be denied funerals to avoid “scandal” among church-goers.
The leaked set of directives urges priests to minimize “the risk of scandal and confusion” when asked to conduct the funeral service of a person in a “notorious homosexual relationship”.
It asks priests to consider, “Was the deceased or the ‘partner’ a promoter of the ‘gay’ lifestyle?” and, “Did the deceased give some signs of repentance before death?”
It also instructs that loved ones of the deceased gay person “should not have any public or prominent role at any ecclesiastical funeral rite or service”.
It adds that the grieving partner should be removed from “any liturgical booklet, prayer card, homily, sermon, talk by the priest, deacon”.
The document continued: “If the situation warrants…ecclesiastical funeral rites may be denied for manifest sinners in which public scandal of the faithful can’t be avoided.”
The emails had been attributed to Vicar General of the Catholic diocese in Madison, Wisconsin, Msgr James R Bartylla, according to Pray Tell.
In a statement, the diocese’s communications director Brent King told the Huffington Post that the leaked remarks do “conform with the mind of the bishop and meet his approval”.
LGBT activists within the church have reacted angrily – labelling the orders “shameful”.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the Catholic LGBT group DignityUSA, said: “This document is the very antithesis of pastoral care.
“It shows that this bishop believes that lesbian and gay people who have lived a deep commitment to a spouse or partner should be demeaned even in death.
“Our families could be refused the sacraments of our faith at the moment of their greatest grief.
“This is heartless. It is cruel. It is unchristian in the extreme.”
And a Catholic Bishop in Illinois has said that same-sex spouses should be denied communion, last rites and funeral rites.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki, who oversees the Springfield diocese, said that unless same-sex spouses repent, they should be denied the rites.
He wrote that people in same-sex marriages “should not present themselves for Holy Communion, nor should they be admitted to Holy Communion.”
Adding that anyone in a same-sex marriage who is facing death can only receive communion if they express “repentance for his or her sins.”
Paprocki also wrote that “unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death,” they should not be afforded a Catholic funeral.
Read the full interview with Matt Evers in Attitude’s February issue, out now