Attraction between the sexes is such an odd thing when one tries to think about it properly. What is it that attracted you to your first love? Was it the same thing that led you into your next partner’s bed? Is it their looks or how they made you feel or their voice or influence?
What about their race or religion, how big a factor does those play in helping you choose a partner?
These are not easy questions to answer because attraction is such a fleeting thing while love is meant to last forever. One minute you’re in love and the next you hate this person and regret ever meeting them.
In South Africa we have the added elephant in the room called Apartheid and with it comes the issue of race.
For Solani Khumalo*, a gay man who grew up in Soweto, falling in love with someone from another race was not a consideration until he moved to Stellenbosch for his studies.
Stellenbosch is known for its wines but also for the town’s uneasy relation to black people.
Historically, white people have always owned the beautiful farms that dot the landscape while black and coloured people did the menial work.
The ‘unskilled’ workers were sometimes paid with booze under a system known as the “dop system”.
Khumalo says these are some of the stories he had heard about the university town and he therefore tried to avoid Afrikaans people, especially the ones who hung out in groups.
But Khumalo fell in love. And he fell in love with a white Afrikaans man from Grahamstown who was also a student at the university.
When I ask him what first attracted him to Kobus Fourie* he says: “he was hot and easy to talk to.”
“He treated me as if I was interesting. We learnt a lot from each other. I think we were also similar in some ways. We ‘got’ each other on many levels despite our backgrounds.”
But it could not have been easy being in a gay interracial relationship in a small town like Stellenbosch.
Khumalo says: “There were stares, snide remarks; rumours about us on campus…There were also racial remarks and the usual jealousy among students.”
Khumalo says he did not let it get to him because his relationship with Fourie was fulfilling on many levels.
“He helped to make me less naive and he got me to deal with how grey the world actually is. He also had my back by listening, but also defending me against critics and people who didn’t understand why we were together.”
But eventually the societal pressure got to them and their relationship was over after just one year.
Khumalo says he has never been in another interracial because of the negative perception created in his head after he knew Fourie.
So perhaps love between the races is just like any other relationship. It is society at large, even 20 years after democracy that still needs to get over their prejudice. How long that will take is almost as foggy as predicting Cape Town weather.
*names have been changed