A gay kiss between two male actors on a South African television soapie has created a furore in that country while the actors involved are telling it like it is.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about love. And that’s fine,” says Arnu de Villiers, the heart-throb who made waves after a very special kiss on popular soapie 7de Laan last week.
Viewers watched when Logan (Simon Tuit) kissed his husband, Divan (played by Arnu), in front of everyone in Oppiekoffie, during Thursday night’s episode.
Divan and Logan’s tender moment is the first ever gay kiss in the history of the show.
The kiss wasn’t a first for a South African soap but the surprise reaction shows there is much more to do in that country.
On Monday morning Arnu (27) responded for the first time to the unbelievable reaction the kiss has caused.
“Last night as I scrolled FB and once again came across The Kiss. I thought, ‘Heck, why only me? How cool will it be if everyone can kiss and post a photo of their love?’ ” he said on his Facebook page.
“Be it straight, gay, bi, interracial, whatever!
“Let’s rather stand together and show the world this isn’t only happening in soaps but in real life – just LOVE.”
The model from Johannesburg admits that at first, he was skeptical when he heard his character was going to be kissing another man in the soapie.
“I knew it was going to cause an uproar,” he told YOU.co.za.
“But I also knew it would resonate with people; it’s going to mean something to someone. That was how I knew I’d accept the role.”
Rehearsing the scene was uncomfortable, Arnu admits. Initially, it was also difficult to “get into the character”. To make matters worse it was his first day on set and also the first time he met Simon.
“When I saw it afterwards I thought, ‘Wow! That’s me!’ It was quite intense but I knew I’d done my job.”
After the episode aired many viewers reacted angrily and called the scene “disgusting”.
But Arnu thinks those reactions are unnecessary.
“We live in a time where everyone knows what it means to be gay; the difference is that seeing it on TV puts it in your face.”
He’s not too bothered with the negative comments anyway, he reveals. “It’s a matter that’s being discussed the world over. People are people. Love is love and that’s fine.
“Raise your children properly so they’re aware because one day it might be your child who turns out to be gay and they might not know how to tell you.”
The moment went viral on social media, generating applause, outrage, and debate about same-sex love, religious intolerance and homophobia around the country.
In a powerful open letter on his Facebook page, Simon Tuit – who describes himself as an artist – expressed his “gratitude for the overwhelming public response”.
“It’s a very heartwarming thing to see so many people coming together and actively speaking out against homophobia, judgment and (frankly) plain cruelty and hate towards other human beings,” he wrote.
Tuit noted that while 7de Laan was not the first local soap to feature a same-sex kiss, “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.”