Earlier this month, the Steps singer made TV history when he performed the first same-sex skate on the ITV reality show with his professional parter Matt Evers.
The pair’s performance gained a huge wave of support online from the LGBTQ community and beyond, and brought judge John Barrowman to tears, but it also received 16 Ofcom complaints.
Speaking exclusively to HuffPost UK, H said: “The reaction was incredible – a lot of the comments were overwhelmingly supportive, but when people call you hideous names and say things like ‘it’s not natural’ or “you’re a f****t’, all of those awful names, for me, they’re a dagger in my heart.”
Referring to the small backlash, he continued: “I think the world has progressed and changed so much, but those kinds of people still exist and will come into contact with my children.
“And those bigots will breed more bigots and we’re bigger and better than that now, as a society. It’s changed so much, but there’s still a small minority that breeds negativity and it’s hideous. ”
H’s dance partner, Matt Evers, brushed off complaints earlier this week, tweeting: “16 out of 5.5 million... the odds are in our favour.”
16 out of 5.5 million... the odds are in our favor. 😂😂😂😂 https://t.co/mFs2tvp29I— Matt Evers (@TheMattEvers) January 8, 2020
But H said despite the relatively small volume, it was still hard to hear about the complaints.
“It hurts, because 16 people were offended so much by two guys dancing on ice together – it’s not like we were ripping each other’s clothes off and snogging. It’s crazy!” he said. “I thought what we did was very tasteful, it was strong, it was dynamic.”
The singer knew “there was always going to be a lot of frenzy” around the first same-sex skate, but now that the first performance is out of the way, he is looking forward to focussing on improving his skills.
“I want my skating to do the talking, I want to be treated the same as any other couple who’s on the show – and I think we will be by the judges,” he said, adding that he has “three benchmarks” that he wants to hit.
“The first one was to get the first skate out of the way and represent a whole different community. For the next one, I’d like to push the boundaries a little bit more and do a romantic song and portray it beautifully and delicately and just the same as a heterosexual couple – I want to tell a love story.
“My ultimate goal on the show, if I make it that far, I’d like to see two guys do the Bolero in the final.”
However, he acknowledged it’s still too early to be planning for the final stages of the competition.
“My body is tired every day, I’m not a spring chicken, I’m 43 now,” he laughed,
“The things I’m asking my body to do are just insane, but it’s coping. Saying that, it is only week three – we’ve got a long way to go yet.”
HuffPost’s full interview with Ian ”H” Watkins will be published on Sunday 19 January as part of our What Works For Me series. Dancing On Ice continues on Sunday at 6pm on ITV.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.