Last year the show featured it's first kiss between two men. (And there was an uproar.)
And in last week's episode,
Sibusiso (played by Menzi Ngubane) caught his son Senzo (Thami Mnqolo) in bed with his boyfriend Jason and proceeded to beat the two with a sjambok.
Evidently there have been facebook groups organizing protests to try to keep the gay storyline off the air. But the story is still there.
And I'm a bit torn.
On the one hand, it's great to know that a popular show is addressing the issue of homophobia and acceptance in a country and culture where homophobia remains an issue, despite the protections of the new Constitution of South Africa, which reads in part:
The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
On the other hand, I wonder if a greater impact for good would have been made if the storyline was a more accepting one. I'm sure there are fathers in South Africa who accept their gay sons. (Though maybe that's a less dramatic storyline to explore. They are trying to tell a soap opera-worthy story, after all.)
Part of me worries that viewers seeing Generations will think that the only response to discovering their child is Queer is to beat them. Is it modeling homophobia, or is there going to be a story arc of the father coming (over time) to accept his gay son?
I guess it gets back to Chimamanda Adichi's idea of the danger of a single story.
If this is the ONLY representation of gay people on TV in South Africa, then how the storyline is dealt with has much greater weight - it speaks beyond just that story, because it becomes the only reference point for how gay people are treated there.
It becomes the stereotype of "This is how South Africans deal with Gay people." rather than "this is one story among many."
So I was really relieved and happy when I discovered that there was another daily soap opera in South Africa, Egoli,
which back in 1999 explored another kind of gay storyline:
Country boy Braam left the family farm in Okahandja for the bright lights of Johannesburg. The Engineering student and part-time bartender turned many a female head, but Braam came out soon after his arrival in the big city.
Enter Krynauw, a young single Johannesburg guy. The two hit it off and sparked a relationship. One thing led to another, as they say, and Braam and Krynauw have just moved in together.
the actor who played the gay character Bramm
Okay, do you see it yet? The black gay character gets beaten, while the white gay character got to move in with his white lover.
Is this a different kind of Apartheid?
What do you think? Is the "Generations" Gay storyline a step forward, or not?
Share your thoughts in comments!
Thanks to @casseytoi on twitter for the heads-up about this!