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.”
Terence, in his own words:. “It has taken a long time to reach this point but I don’t really think about being gay as much as I used to. I used to see it as an aspect of me that made me different. Now it’s just part of who I am along with my dark hair, brown eyes, skinny legs and very distinctive laugh.
I lost both my parents at a very young age and getting through all that trauma has been one of the biggest obstacles of my life – especially the loss of my mother. Over the years I thought I had dealt with it but after having a big break down earlier this year I realised, with the help of a counselor, that I had actually just suppressed my true emotions. I have however made a lot of progress this year with the help of my counselor as well as doing a TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercise) course. Coming out and accepting myself has probably been THE biggest challenge of my life. Coming out not so much but definitely accepting myself.
It hasn’t all been bad though, I’ve achieved quite a lot in my 21 years. I did very well in school, excelling especially well in culture activities. I live for the performing arts! I study musical theatre and next year will be my last year. I’ve been in a few productions and have received distinctions for every single one of my exams over the last 3 years at college. I’ve recently written my very first professional show that I’ll be putting on in a theatre in a few months.
Coming out, oi! This is going to be the shortened version: I started noticing it for the first time when I was 14. I honestly didn’t know what to make of it and the next two years would be the most confusing time of my whole life – and then there was still puberty!
When I was 16 I decided that I must be bisexual. And I was satisfied – for the moment. I then had this burning desire to want to tell more and more people. I carefully chose the people whom I told. Of course they were all very supportive and for the first time in years I was completely and utterly happy. During the holidays after I finished school (18) I finally had the courage to tell my group of male best friends. They were semi-jocks, hence why it took a long time (and a lot of alcohol) to tell them but like everybody else they were extremely supportive. From there a new tradition was born: On my birthday they’d take me to my favourite restaurant, Beefcakes (the waiters walk around shirtless) and they’d get me a body shot. From there where’d party the night away at the only real gay club we have here in Cape Town, Crew. The night would end with us taking a taxi home and them arguing who got hit on the most. Gotta love straight men! I then started my first year of college and doing musical theatre it meant that 3/4 of the guys at my college were gay, yet I was still convinced I was bisexual. I would have these internal conversations in my head and whenever my voice of reason tried to point out that I’m probably gay I’d immediately silence it. I’d continue this charade throughout my 1st year even though I was surrounded by so many gay guys who were so happy being out and in an environment where prejudice didn’t really exist. At this point I hadn’t publicly come out as bisexual – a few high school friends knew as well as most people at my college. At my 20th birthday party this would all change. As per usual my straight friends took me out to Beefcakes and that year we went to the lesbian club, which I was totally cool with it because the music is always better. They then hooked me up with this cute Jewish guy they met at the bar and after 30 minutes of chatting, the two of us were making out like there was no tomorrow. Now at this point in my life I had been clubbing a lot and made out with a few guys but this was completely different! I felt like he had awakened something in me. The next day for the first time in my life I uttered the words: “I’m gay”. A Facebook status followed (“I kissed a boy and I liked it”) and the love and support was overwhelming! The rest is history.
I personally don’t like the Cape Town gay community. Simply because I’ve never experienced a sense of community. There are just too many stuck up, pretentious pricks to deal with and aint’ nobody got time for dat! You get judged on everything: your walk, your talk, your clothes, your appearance etc. I don’t mind a bit of NSA now and then but I feel like that’s all people care about here and don’t even get me started on the drugs. Our “community is also still a little racially divided which is a bit disappointing. Obviously I’m generalising but the above mentioned are frequent occurrences. I really just prefer hanging out at straight bars and clubs and meeting foreign gay guys – they’re way more interesting! Cape Town as a whole really isn’t such a bad place to be gay in. I always refer to it as the “liberal hub of Africa”. This is probably the only place in Africa where a black man and a white man can hold hands in public and no one would really care.
What advice would I give my younger self? Stop being such a pussy! Fuck what societies thinks. You have friends and family who love you no matter what! You accepting and loving yourself can make such a big difference to someone else who is struggling with the same problem. Be an inspiration. Be someone to look up to. Be proud. Most importantly, be yourself. LOVE YOURSELF.”