Raising the baa: backlash over gay farmer ‘not as bad as expected’
The first gay contestant on 'Boer Soek 'n Vrou' elicited predictably negative comments, but they are not in the majority
The popular Afrikaans reality dating show for farmers, Boer Soek 'n Vrou, has entered a brave new world by introducing its traditionally conservative audience to a gay contestant.
Last week, the series, which is in its 12th season, announced the top 10 farmer finalists who are looking for love, including “Boer Damian”, a 37-year-old gay farmer from Bapsfontein in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.
KykNET spokesperson Suzaan Keyter said the reaction had been largely positive – on the channel's own platforms.
“On our own platforms the news has been positively received, with the odd negative comment,” said Keyter.
Keyter said Damian was not the first gay entrant but the first to make it to the top 10 finalists, adding that the situation was not forced: “This was an organic thing that happened.”
She said it was too soon to say how well Damian had been received, adding that viewers would have to wait until October to see if he made it into the top five.
“The top five will be based on those who receive the most letters. We’ll start shooting in June and the show will air in October,” she explained.
Keyter said those looking for love had until the end of May to write letters to the contestants.
The top post on Boer Soek 'n Vrou’s Facebook page has no fewer than 2,600 comments, including one from the show’s producers that “no discriminatory comments” would be tolerated. Replies to that include, “I am the proud mom of a gay man”, and “Yay for gay farmers!” and “I feel like blikseming small-minded people”.
But others have openly bid the show farewell, declaring that being gay is a sin to which they could never expose their children.
“You have just alienated 90% of your viewers with this shortsighted business decision. Most Afrikaners are Christians,” commented one, sparking a new furious debate over whether all Christians believe that being gay is a sin.
“Remember, God has certain conditions,” replied one, while another hit back: “Don’t you play the Christian card. Christians rather just get married, cheat on their wives and then get divorced!”
Film critic and gay rights activist Leon van Nierop said it was about time that this happened on local TV.
“It shows level-headed and sober thinking on the part of the broadcasters. It will also be interesting to see what the response is,” he said.
Genevieve Louw, the programme manager for education at Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (Gala), said it was a “revolutionary move” by KykNET.
“This is a positive development,” she said, but cautioned it would take a long time before being gay was normalised in SA society.