Rian van Heerden
Openly gay Jacaranda FM radio presenter Rian van Heerden has been vilified for saying that a homophobic God isn’t worth following.
Van Heerden made the statement during the breakfast show on Wednesday after he brought up Johannesburg gay rugby team, the Jozi Cats, which has been in the media thanks to its controversial new ad campaign.
In response to a host of homophobic comments on Facebook, largely motivated by religious beliefs, the presenter said on air:
“Any God, and I don’t care if he’s got eight arms or if he’s a tree, I don’t care who you worship, any God that judges people because of how they were born or who they were born, is not worth worshipping.”
Van Heerden added: “And I stand by that statement.”
He continued to be attacked on social media in a barrage of anti-gay rants. Many commentators cited the Bible as the basis for justifying their prejudice and some even called for him to be fired.
Danie Bouwer (@dbouwer) tweeted in Afrikaans that according to Leviticus, “You may not have a homosexual relationship. It is a sin.” Van Heerden pointed out in response that the Bible also sanctioned slavery.
Wilhelm (@VarsVis) dismissed any argument that people are born gay, insisting that “you choose your actions”. Van Heerden asked him if he is a medical doctor or a biologist.
Writing on Facebook, Johan Koch equated gays and lesbian with paedophiles, claiming that paedophiles are also “born” that way, while Willem Van Heerden, said: “One radio personality made a racial comment, and lost his job, and I agreed with that. Rian must go!!!!!”
Many fans and supporters, however, also backed Van Heerden and his views.
Ferdi J Steyn commented: “Please keep Riaan at Jacaranda, he said exactly what so many of us that listen to your station wanted to say, gay or straight or bi…”
Belinda Dicks wrote: “Technically shellfish get mentioned much more in Leviticus, yet you don’t see people protesting at Ocean Basket…”
Jacques Theron praised Van Heerden: “Well said Rian. Time to take a stand against bigotry and superstitious non-sense.”
Van Heerden, at the time the host of the TV talk show Voorblad, came out as gay in an open letter in 2005.
“Who wants to live a fake life and with the fear of being found out? Who would want to go through life so terribly lonely?” he wrote.
In a subsequent interview with Rapport, van Heerden said he wanted to tell the world: “Here is a gay man. This is what a gay guy looks like. This is how a gay guy functions. I’m not less manly. There’s nothing sinister about me.”