It was a first for South African television after the Afrikaans soapie Getroud Met Rugby broadcast a same-sex wedding. The popular soap-opera, shown on kykNET, which follows the lives of rugby players and their families, featured the wedding of Ryno (Adrian Steyn), a professional rugby player, and Thinus
(Arno Marais) a lawyer on Friday September 13.
“We wanted to share a beautiful love story between two people,” the show’s publicist, Rudo van Heerden about this first time event in a South African soap.
“We felt that it was time to bring a rugby player to GMR that happened to be gay and in a steady relationship,” van Heerden explained.
“Although our show and characters are fictional, we try our best to tell stories that people can relate to and show our viewers a bit of what is going on in the world”.
The character of Ryno was introduced with him joining the Stryders rugby team in January. An episode later, viewers met Thinus, and it was soon established that the two were a couple.
They were married in an emotional scene carried by a song written by the head writer, Deon Opperman and composed by his wife, Jeannine Neethling.
“It was the most beautiful moment”.
Getroud Met Rugby has also been praised for the depiction of discrimination that LGBTQ athletes encounter. Ryno’s character became the victim of homophobia in the locker room from some of his teammates after joining the Stryders.
“The aim was for viewers to feel his pain and rejection although he is a strong man that made peace with himself a long time ago,” said Van Heerden.
“The story evolved that his haters later came to apologise to him and they became friends in one team”.
Van Heerden says the response from viewers to the wedding has been overwhelmingly positive, “There were a few negative comments but compared to the positive ones they are not even 10% of the reactions. Our viewers really love Ryno and Thinus!”
The actors themselves were moved by their fictional nuptials, Marais said: “The love between the couple is just so incredible. I have never experienced something like it. It felt just like a real wedding.”