Peet, in his own words: “(Being gay means) Nothing, other than liking guys. I don’t have a “gay” friend circle and a straight friend circle. It is more like a film friend circle and non-film friend circle (I study motion picture at a college here in Cape Town).
Now, yes, I am different from straight guys in that they like girls and I like guys. But that is a difference I am comfortable with, because it is one that I understand. But when it comes to interest in movies, in sports, in you name it, there is no difference. When it comes to emotional levels and maturity, there is no difference (I know straight guys more dramatic than any gay guy I have ever met). We are who we are, and our sexuality is merely a small facet of our complete personality. I don’t feel the need to announce to the world that I am gay, but neither do I ever hide it.
For my latest exam project at film school I made my first film revolving around a gay relationship. But the intent of this film wasn’t to be an LGBT focused film. It didn’t highlight the lovers as being different. Them being gay wasn’t a plot-point, it was a characteristic. Example; Brokeback Mountain would not be Brokeback Mountain had it been a straight couple, there wouldn’t be a story. Them being gay is a plot point that drives the narrative. Yes, it worked. I loved that film. But, my intention with my film was to put a gay relationship in a situation a straight relationship would work as well. Thus, the couple being gay ends up being more of a characteristic than a plot-point, and that is how I live my life. Being gay is a part of who I am but it doesn’t drive my choices and decisions on all aspects of life, it doesn’t define what I eat, where I go and who I hang out with; it merely makes me a guy who likes guys.
(The film :P) hahahaha
Well, I think like everyone you interview, I have always known. I grew up in a smallish city in South Africa, among a devoutly religious and conservative family.
My celebrity crush when I was 10? Orlando Bloom in Lord of the Rings. Yoh, I tell you, love at first sigh (for a 10 year old).
But so it continued, and it was never really something I spoke about. When I was a bit older, the South African legal system became more and more progressive and gay marriage was legalised. This created much controversy as my parents naturally opposed this move. I was then forced to see this opposition, and so suppressed all feelings of being gay until I was about 17. I never really dated or anything as I was one of those high school nerds that just did everything that was available to do. So, I kept busy. The first time that I was truly introduced to people who are completely comfortable with their sexuality was at the end of my 11th year when my Model UN debating team made it to nationals. At nationals as well I was selected as part of a team of 13 South Africans to go to Cornell University, New York to participate at a MUN conference there.
This all gave me a tremendous amount of confidence and the first time ever that I told someone I was gay was 3 days after the competition. It was strange; she wasn’t a close friend, she wasn’t a family member, she was a classmate, but it just needed to get out.
After that, I slowly told my close friends and then my sister, and just after my 18th birthday, my parents. Scariest moment of my life. They were watching television and I finally got the courage to tell them. So I walked in and gave them this long speech about what I have achieved in all my activities etc and how proud they should be to have me as their son. I then blurted out: “I’m gay” and ran out of the room as quickly as I could. I panicked. So, impulse? RUN! Silly now that I think of it.
My dad approached me afterwards, very calmly, gave me a hug and thanked me for telling them, and told me that they will always love me. This meant the world to me. It’s gotten to the stage now, that he even makes jokes about it, in a non-offensive way. But it is something I really appreciate, as to me it shows how comfortable he is with me being me.
Now, although my mom wasn’t openly opposed to the whole “gay thing”, I have my suspicions that she wasn’t entirely pleased with it either. This all changed, however, when a film called “Prayers for Bobby” came on tv about a year after I came out, and she happened to see the second half of it. She excitedly emailed me (as I was living in Bangkok at this stage) and told me about this amazing movie she saw. I then told her to go look in my bookcase in my room, as I have the book there. I think by now she has forced at least 10 people to also read it and has given numerous people a bit of a reprimand on the issue of gay rights. GO MOM!
Finally, the big “come out” was done during my final few months of high school, where I decided to be brave and take my Indian boyfriend to my private Christian high school’s prom (as americans would call it). Everyone received us very positively and after that, being gay meant being me. Nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to hide.
I am in no position to really discuss the gay community (in Cape Town). I haven’t really taken upon myself to become apart of it. Yes, I have been to Crew (local gay club) now and then, but it never really dragged me into the gay belly of the Mother City. Most of the people I meet are those that I study with, and to be honest, my studies all but consume who I am at the moment.
I watch movies, I study movies, I speak about movies, I make them (or learning to at least). It is a rather intense course and quite a competitive industry, so success demands obedience, and, well, it is one I am willingly giving. I love film, and I love hanging out with my fellow film students as our conversations are always a joy and an education. So, because of my over involvement in the film community, or at least my college community, I do not really spend that much time in any of the other communities Cape Town has to offer.
So, back to the question, it won’t be right of me to discuss the gay community as I do not know enough about it to judge. I admit, from what I have seen, it didn’t strike me as a community I wanted to be part of, sad to say, as I always felt very judged and uncomfortable at the gay clubs, but this is purely based on a few experiences and maybe someone who does partake within the community would have a different and more accurate opinion. I also do not have a very big “clubbing” persona (anymore) and prefer a nice quiet meal at home (I love good food) with an awesome movie (a good evening always involves an awesome movie).
I would tell myself to be more daring, make more mistakes and be more stupid. Looking back through all my travels and experiences, it’s the impulsive and sometimes, stupid, decisions that left the lasting impressions and created the more interesting stories. It was by travelling Vietnam a lone, getting lost in China, getting really bad food poisoning and being unable to afford a doctor in India that I grew as a person and became a citizen of the world and, now looking back, even if some of those situations were undesirable at the time, I would want them to happen again because they all turned out to be amazing memories and shaped the person who I am today.”