In last week, the Afrikaans South African soap opera 7de Laan (translated in English to 7th Avenue) made history by airing an episode containing the series' first ever gay kiss.
Although the kiss was not a first for South African television, it was still viewed as being an important step in the right direction with regard to LGBT acceptance.
However, instead of being met with approval, the episode received a massive backlash from angered viewers after airing.
Read on for more regarding this.
After the episode aired and the drama ensued, Simon Tuit, who was one of the actors involved in the scene decided to share a message on his official Facebook page, aimed at the LGBT youth of the world. Below I have added his whole touching post/letter (with a few translations into English). It is a long read but well worth it.
Story/Images Credit: Simon Tuit (2017)
"Now that the dust has settled after the whirlwind of Logan & Divan's kiss I thought I'd express my gratitude for the overwhelming public response. I think it's best to do this in English because so many of the viewers aren't Afrikaans. I hope that this message will reach the hearts of all those who may need to hear it.
It's a very heartwarming thing to see so many people coming together and actively speaking out against homophobia, judgement and (frankly) plain cruelty and hate towards other human beings. One small scene ended up causing such a stir and brought people from all over the country together with such camaraderie and it proved that even in "conservative" South Africa - love and acceptance won the day. Many people expressed that 7de Laan was very late to the party with the whole "gay couple" thing - but judging from the debate it sparked, it shows that even today (after a few other tv shows have touched on the topic of same-sex relationships) we need to continue speaking about it and showing it, since so many people are still ignorant about the issue.
This letter isn't directed at those who cried for 7de Laan to be banned or who said they'll never watch the show again or how disgusted they were by seeing two men kissing. As much as your hateful response saddens me and as much as I hope that my words will somehow strike a chord in your heart - I realize the odds of me changing your point of view are very slim. But do please remember the words of Nelson Mandela: "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion (and by extension being any form of "queer"). People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
This letter also isn't aimed at Christian zealots who are so quick to see the splinter in somebody else's eye (Matthew 7:5)... As Christians we are instructed to go forth and spread God's good word and to be examples for others and I know you feel you're doing what God commands - I just think as Christians we often forget something really simple: "What Would Jesus Do". I applaud people standing strong in their faith - what I can't accept is your harsh judgement of fellow human beings who mean you no harm. Fellow human beings, who same as everybody else are going through their own personal struggles, and don't need to be told that God despises them or that somehow God placed this burden of being different upon them to test their strength (or even worse, as punishment). I can only hope that you'll come to realize that whilst the Bible and Jesus spoke of many things - to love God with all your heart and mind and soul and to secondly love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40) is the pinnacle of His word.
Thank you to the wonderful fans (gay, straight and in-between) who wholeheartedly applauded and cheered on Logan & Divan and stood up against homophobia in that epic social media comment battle. Looking back in history, it's the people like you who bring about change in the world. People like you make it possible that today, equal rights are not just a lip service. We are meant to be one of the most forward thinking societies in the world (at least in terms of the law) and have moved forward faster than many other countries in terms of equality.
Hopefully, a person who knows they are "different" (in terms of sexual orientation or gender identification) and is currently in an environment where they are essentially being told they are defective will see some of the comments and understand that they're not alone. For those who had to sit there watching that scene with a lump in your throat because possibly your father or mother or a family member started ranting off about "daai moffie k*k" [" that queer shit"]; somebody who had to listen to a loved one expressing how "disgusting the gays are" or how "no son/daughter of mine will ever be gay", I hope that you will take away from this, that there is a larger society out there who accepts you, and there is a place for you in it, without you having to change. I want to reassure you that things do get better. If you are not comfortable standing up yet, try your best to ignore people trying to take away your dignity. We're a community of amazing "moffies" ["queers"] who brighten up a sad and dreary world with glittery sparkles.
That being said, don't think you have to be conform to anybody's idea of what gay is, be the kind of person you want to be. There are many rugby playing, hairy, butch and muscled gays who would make your dad's masculinity pale in comparison. We're a community of Alan Turings (father of modern day computer technology), Alexander the Greats (conqueror of nations), Leonardo Da Vincis and Michelangelos (scientific and artistic geniuses who propelled us out of the Dark Ages). And of course, Ellen DeGeneres whose positivity and humor brings out laughter and smiles all around!
Being different isn't a bad thing. I know the loneliness of being the bullied non-rugby playing skinny kid. I know the fear of hearing peers jeering at the kid who is maybe more effeminate than you and just being happy that this time they're giving you a skip. Being different is quite possibly the thing that will give you the strength to one day be the most amazing human being that you can offer the world. The world needs you. It needs us. And there is a space here for everybody.
And your loved ones - I can only hope that they see past your differences and that one day they will love and accept you for who you are. It will not happen overnight - give them time also to process things. Facing up to what you don't know and don't understand is difficult. Introspection in the face of what is alien to us is often so terrifying we can't help but revert to our safe zones of ignorant bliss. I can only hope that one day they get to break free from the horrible confines of their minds, selective religious interpretations and preconceptions that keep them from seeing how much beauty there is in this diverse world.
So on the day when you're ready to take that step (and yes it will be terrifying) - when you're ready to have that burden off your shoulders and to accept yourself and love yourself for who you are - remember that there is a community (of decent human beings, gay and straight and other) - and we're here for you." – Simon Tuit