Jacques Pepler (right)
South African actor Jacques Pepler, best known for his role as Eben on Villa Rosa, has come out as gay in the wake of the Orlando massacre.
On Monday, the 25-year-old star of Kyknet’s popular and long running soapie, which recently ended, posted a picture on Facebook of himself kissing his partner of six months, Ruan Van Biljon.
He also wrote a heartfelt coming out piece in which he explained that he’d been too scared to be open about his sexuality because of “what people would think of me or my ‘image'” as an actor. He admitted that he also feared losing out on roles if he was openly gay.
Pepler went on to say that after what happened in Orlando, he realised that “it’s more important to be brave and come out of the closet publicly and to admit it”.
“I am gay,” he wrote. “I am one of the minority that is so openly and easily discriminated against. I am one of the people who so many would condemn due to their religion, but I know in my heart that I am a true Christian and my God does not hate.”
The actor said that he now aims to use his platform in the public eye to be a role model “or a beacon of hope for all the gay people who feel that they aren’t good enough or less of a man for being gay”.
Speaking to Mambaonline, Pepler said that he had been “devastated” by Sunday’s massacre. “It’s an attack on our community in one of the only places where we as gay people feel safe to be ourselves and enjoy ourselves openly”.
As for his coming out, he exclaimed: “I feel free. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can now help the people who like me have struggled so relentlessly to accept who they are.
“I want to show people that it’s okay and that you don’t need to hurt yourself or others. There is love out there for everyone…”
Pepler’s openness has been met with a “mostly positive” response on social media.
“There have been a few bigots who have raised their opinions but many people engaged them without me asking to tell them that their judgements are inappropriate and hurtful,” he said.
Below is Pepler’s statement in full:
For a very long time I’ve been too scared of what people would think of me or my “image” due to the notoriety that comes from being in the public eye as an actor on television. I’ve also been scared about the fact that if I ever admitted it, that I would be denied roles that I know I can play (which will probably happen after this) but after what has just happened in Orlando with the terror attack on the LGBTQI community I’ve realised that it’s more important to be brave and come out of the closet publicly and to admit it. I am gay. I am one of the minority that is so openly and easily discriminated against. I am one of the people who so many would condemn due to their religion, but I know in my heart that I am a true Christian and my God does not hate.
Think about it; Who in their right mind would choose to be gay when so many youngsters are disowned by their parents, or taunted and abused by most of society? I was born this way, and after 25 years I have finally found the courage to be proud of who I am after so many told me how wrong my “lifestyle choice” is. Trust me, this wasn’t a choice. No one chooses this. The gay community already faces so much hatred with so many, including me, attempting suicide and most of them succeeding. Now with this terror attack it will inevitably be more difficult for gay people to come out for fear of being killed for who they are. But I say that WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN! WE WILL BE BRAVE! AND WE WILL FIGHT FOR EQUALITY!
I have been given a platform in the public eye and I am here now to hopefully be a role model of sorts or just a beacon of hope for all the gay people who feel that they aren’t good enough or less of a man for being gay. You are not alone. You are never alone. You can be yourself and you are loved. Come out when you are ready and we will be waiting with open arms to accept you as the beautiful person that you are.
My thoughts and prayers are with all the people affected by the Orlando tragedy. I am devastated.
#ProudlyGay #LoveIsLove #LoveWins #Orlando #PrayersForOrlando #KissForEquality #WeTheBrave #TwoMenKissing