Sunday’s Dancing With The Stars had many of the contestants – and viewers – in tears as they dedicated their performances to important people in their lives.
And for many people, it was Rory O’Neill a.k.a. Panti Bliss and Shane Byrne’s dances which stole the show. Shane was dancing in memory of his good pal Axel Foley while Rory dedicated his routine to Professor Fiona Mulcahy, a doctor who treated him when he was diagnosed as HIV positive in the early ’90s.
Rory has since admitted that he felt out of his ‘comfort zone’ when performing out of drag on Sunday’s show, saying it felt a lot more ‘exposing’ dancing as himself rather than as his alter-ego.
The show was the first time Rory had not danced in drag during the series and he performed the paso doble with his pro partner Denys Samson to the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s A Sin.
The duo impressed the judges and were awarded a series high score of 29 points, with viewers praising the performance.
Speaking of performing as himself compared to Panti, Rory said it was physically easier, with no heels or corset, but noted: ‘It is more exposing, it’s out of my comfort zone.’
He reiterated the importance of having an all-male couple on the show, saying: ‘This is the real Ireland.’
Denys said he felt their strong dance represented the way in which Rory dealt with his initial diagnosis as a 27-year-old, when he was originally told his life expectancy was around five to ten years.
Happily, Rory added: ‘This is a happy story with a happy ending… I think it’s important to realise that you can be a 54-year-old person living with HIV and still be dancing on live television on Sunday night and making a fool of yourself like everybody else!’
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Now on top of the leaderboard, Rory teased that the pair’s next dance would be a salsa to Lady Gaga.