A City graduate danced for love on BBC Three’s newest show as he fights to break down cultural stigmas and increase South Asian representation in reality TV.
Akshay Patel (BA Journalism 2021), who will graduate in January 2022, featured on BBC Three’s ‘I Like The Way U Move,’ a new realty TV show presented by Jamie Laing, which partners professional and rookie dancers to find love on and off the dancefloor.
The 22-year-old entered the show during his final year of university, as he wanted to increase the representation of South Asian people on television and break down the cultural stigmas that exist with being gay and Hindu.
Originally from Wolverhampton, Akshay admits that he has struggled with his identity as being South Asian and gay.
However, he feels that going on the show and being himself allowed him to have an open conversation with his family about his sexuality.
“Coming from the West Midlands, I didn’t have much exposure to LGBTQI+ communities. It is hard to find any representation outside of the big cities in the UK, and that definitely affected me when I was realising who I am,” he said.
“Being gay can still be an issue in the South Asian and Hindu communities as we do not have the same liberal thinking as other subgroups
“After my time on I Like The Way U Move, I came out to my parents. I had previously had to keep my family and personal life separate, but I felt it was the right time to have that conversation.
“I am strong in my stance and feel supported in what I do. It is difficult and it is still an ongoing conversation with my family, but I am glad and excited to have started it,” he continued.
Now set to graduate in January with Upper Second Class Honors, Akshay reflected on his time at City as he sets his sights on a presenting career in television and radio.
“I felt like a kid in a sweet shop when I first came to London. To be surrounded by so many creative energies, opportunities and interesting people – it was completely different to my life back home.
“At City I wanted to get involved in absolutely everything. Whether it was the drama society, the professional mentoring scheme or our award-winning fashion project, Relentless which showcased non-conforming and sustainable clothing – I wanted to be a part of it all.
“I can definitely say that my time in London and at City has helped me become the person I am today.”