South African soapies and telenovelas tell stories that have helped us overcome the stigma that has hung around queer life for more than a decade.
Here is a timeline of the queer storylines in SA-Soapies:
December 2006: ‘Isidingo ‘
When South Africa passed the law legalizing same-sex marriages in December 2006, Isidingo was one of the first soaps to be introduced openly gay men – Steve Stethakis (played by Emmanuel Castis) and the character of Len Cooper (Chris Beasley) – kiss on South African television.
These characters have opened doors for many soapy writers to think outside the box and to create queer storylines.
May 2008 until the presentation: ‘Rhythm City’
We first witnessed queer stories on the now canned soap when actor Zenzo Ngqobe, who played Stone Khuse, was determined to marry Charlotte (Nosipho Nkelemba) despite his attraction to men. The plot received many reviews in 2008 when Stone beat up his gay lover for kissing him and later turning to God to deny his sexual preferences.
Now, 11 years later, the Show featured more gay characters, like the villainous Khulekani Ngobese (played by Mcendisi Shabangu), who is married to a woman but is secretly gay
March 2009 present: ‘Generations’
Senzo Dhlomo (played by Thami Mngqolo) and Jason (Zolisa Xaluva) were one of the first kissing gay couple on South African television, followed by their wedding and married life.
Less than a decade later, actress Chiedza Mhende split the country when she changed from man to woman called Wandile transformed Radebe. The Zimbabwean-born actress who skillfully played this role managed to educate and entertain South Africans about the challenges transgender people face on a daily basis.
March 2017 presents:” 7de Laan “
In March 2017, 7de Laan shocked its fans when it showed two men kissing. The characters were married couples; Logan, played by Simon du Toit and Divan, played by Arnu de Villiers.
The show has evolved 13 years later and has starred with the youngest character, Shawn Basson, played by Deànré Reiners, who differs from his Mrs. Lana. Divorced, queer storylines developed Basson, played by Mila Guy, after performing in his community. Shawn is now in a relationship with Emile, played by Christopher van der Westhuizen.
August 2017 to present: ‘The Queen ‘
TV presenter and actor Sello Maake ka-Ncube, who plays the role of Kgosi, wowed audiences for the first time with his extravagant and humorous gay role a few years ago and received positive reviews by fans as this was his first gay role in his career.
Kgosi, the brother of Harriet Khoza, played by Connie Ferguson, left the telenovela more than two years ago but recently confirmed his return to Show and said he made peace with the Fergusons after allegedly arguing with the production company over salaries.
The actor told the Daily Sun: “I’m getting old and I can’t hold a grudge. I hope the return sends the right message as I have no problems with the Fergusons. ”
Another gay character on the series is Kgosi’s on-screen lover, Schumacher (Vuyo Ngcukana ). Ngcukana – unlike many actors who have distanced themselves from their gay roles – has proudly and loudly dealt with homophobia in South Africa and has praised Ferguson Films for combating homophobia in their storylines.