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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Laura Colgan

Rory O'Neill smashes HIV stigma with dance dedicated to his doctor on RTE's Dancing with the Stars

Drag star Rory O'Neill smashed the stigma surrounding HIV with a dance in honour of the doctor who treated him on Sunday night's Dancing with the Stars.

Rory - who is part of the hit show's first male duo - earned immunity during Dedicated Dance Week which saw the contestants dance in honour of their heroes.

Rory scored the first ten of the series after he took off his drag to perform in honour of Dr Fiona Mulcahy who has treated him for HIV for the past 27 years.

READ MORE: RTE viewers all saying same thing as Roz Purcell responds to difficult questions on Tommy Tiernan Show

Panti Bliss star Rory, 54, danced a Paso Doble as himself alongside partner Denys Samson to It's A Sin.

He said: "I was diagnosed in 1996. She told me that I probably could live 5-10 years if I was lucky.

"I was only 27 at the time. I knew people already who had died from AIDS-related illnesses.

"Today, HIV is an easily managed condition. It is serious this week what we're doing.

"Performing out of drag shows that in a way. It's important to realise you can be a 54-year-old living with HIV and still dancing live on TV every Sunday and making a fool of yourself.

Panti Bliss star Rory, 54, danced a Paso Doble as himself alongside partner Denys Samson to It's A Sin (RTE)

"27 years ago I didn't expect to be here today and I certainly didn't expect to be on RTE One.

"I'm trying to combat the stigma that still clings to HIV. This seemed like a very good opportunity to speak to the public at large about it.

"It was important to me for at least one week to have two guys dancing like everyone else."

They topped the leaderboard with an almost-perfect 29 points.

Former rugby player Shane Byrne danced in honour of teammate Anthony 'Axel' Foley who died in 2016 aged 42.

Shane paid tribute to his former Ireland rugby teammate with a Viennese Waltz to We Are The Champions that scored 23 points.

He said: "Anthony was one of those guys you could build a team on the back of.

"Thinking of Anthony brings up some pain. But we want to celebrate everything Anthony stood for.

"I want to get this dance right for Anthony. I don't know what he's going to think of me doing a dance for him but a quiet man who always led by example.

"He would say a few words and they'd be very important what he'd say."

Former rugby player Shane Byrne danced in honour of teammate Anthony 'Axel' Foley who died in 2016 (RTE)

Glee star Damian McGinty performed a contemporary ballroom routine to Forever Young for his castmates, including the late Cory Monteith, who died aged 31, and Naya Rivera, who died aged 33.

Damian said: "Glee was an experience that was huge. Cory Monteith was like a big brother figure on the show and in life.

"It's tragic what happened to Naya and Cory and it's worth remembering the great that they did.

"A lot of highs, a lot of lows and life-defining things. It really changed my life."

Damian and partner Kylee Vincent scored 27 points.

2FM presenter Carl Mullan scored 23 points for his jive to Higher Power in honour of his son Daibhi.

Carl said: "I want this dance to be as great as it possibly can be so that I have something I can look back on that I am really proud of."

Blogger-turned-businesswoman Suzanne Jackson scored 23 points with a Cha Cha to What A Feeling for her parents Susan and Damian, who celebrated their 40th anniversary.

Suzanne said: "They're such a loving duo. They flirt, still.

"It's so nice to see after 40 years that they still have that spark.

"Looking at my parents now 40 years later super happy and best friends, I take a lot from that. Home is where the heart is."

Comedian Kevin McGahern scored 24 points for a Paso Doble to Smells like Teen Spirit in honour of Kevin’s daughter, Wallis.

Eurovision singer Brooke Scullion earned 25 points for a Viennese Waltz to Breakaway dedicated to her mother Tracy.

She said: "This moment should have come sooner but it didn't so I'm glad I can do it now for her.

"Parents always put themselves last and my mummy is guilty of that. I know I was an awful child to raise but you've done a really good job."

And footballer Stephanie Roche was awarded 23 points for her contemporary ballroom to Fight Song in honour of Ireland's women's national football team.

She said: "As a footballer who has dedicated my life to the game, you have to cancel plans with friends because football is your priority.

"The Irish team has always had that sense of togetherness. I'm very proud of playing for Ireland and my teammates."


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