One of the Western Cape schoolboys seen in a heartwarming Valentine’s Day viral video has opened up about inspiring other gay youth.
The video, shot at a high school on Valentine’s Day last week, shows a teenage boy in uniform, waiting outside a classroom with a balloon, red roses and a gift bag.
His surprised crush, another boy, walks out to receive the gifts to the delight of a group of school pupils who are watching.
The two schoolboys then hug and exchange kisses as their friends cheer them on.
The uplifting video quickly went viral on WhatsApp and has been widely shared on other social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For many it’s an encouraging and touching sign of progress that two gay teens could express their love so openly in a school setting. Because the boys are minors, however, Mambaonline has chosen to blur out their faces and to not identify them.
Daniel (not his real name), the 16-year-old who offered his boyfriend the gifts in the video, told Mambaonline that while he is not out to his parents, he is happy for the clip to be shared and seen.
“I don’t mind it going viral. I think they already know,” he said about his family. Although he admitted he has some concerns, he is “not that worried” about their response. “I really don’t know, I’ll see what will happen.”
Daniel revealed that he and his beau have been dating for about two weeks. They officially confirmed that they are a couple in a relationship status update on Facebook on 6 February.
He said that the relationship has generally been welcomed by his schoolmates. “They accept us for who we are. There are still a few people that have a problem with gays but they don’t bother us,” he said.
Daniel noted that the school initially had some reservations about the video. “They saw the video and had a big discussion about about it and us but decided to let it go.”
When asked what advice he would give to other young gay teens, he said: “I never knew our actions could inspire others. I just want to say to them they should not worry about what people are going to say.”
He added: “Do what makes you happy because at the end of the day it’s your life that you are living.”
Activist and artist Frank Malaba, who first alerted Mambaonline to the clip, applauded the schoolboys. “In the wake of all the negativity that is facing sexual minorities and the way that there’s an attempt to scratch out and muffle their voices, this is breath of fresh air,” he said.
“I was moved by how refreshing it was to see these boys step away from the shame that often breaks down young people, especially those of colour in our community.”
The story is in stark contrast to the actions of a top private school in Johannesburg that recently barred a male school pupil who wanted to challenge gender norms and stereotypes from wearing a dress at a fashion show.
According to a 2016 report by the Love Not Hate campaign, 56% of LGBT South Africans said they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in school.