South African soap star pens powerful open letter to LGBT youth after gay kiss scene sparks backlash

A South Africa soap star has published a powerful open letter to young gay people after a landmark gay kiss scene he was involved in sparked a homophobia backlash from viewers. South African soap 7de Laan hit the headlines this week after airing the first gay kiss in the soap's 17 year history. The passionate kiss between Logan (played by Simon Tuit) and Divan (Arnu de Villiers) came as a surprise to audiences at home, who were sadly divided over seeing same-sex affection depicted so visibly onscreen. While the kiss was by no means the first of its type to be aired on South African television, it remained an important moment in the journey to LGBT acceptance in a country which enshrined gay equality as part of its historic post-apartheid constitution in 1996. Following the episode's broadcast and ensuing controversy, actor Simon Tuit has shared a heartfelt message on social media directed at LGBT youth, reminding them that there is a whole community of that accepts them for who they are, however their families or neighbours may have reacted to his historic gay kiss scene. "This letter isn't directed at those who cried for 7de Laan to be banned or who said they'll never watch the show again or how disgusted they were by seeing two men kissing," Tuit writes. "As much as your hateful response saddens me and as much as I hope that my words will somehow strike a chord in your heart - I realize the odds of me changing your point of view are very slim. "But do please remember the words of Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion (and by extension being any form of "queer"). People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." After thanking the "wonderful fans" who "wholeheartedly applauded and cheered on Logan & Divan and stood up against homophobia in that epic social media comment battle", the actor goes on to speak to the young LGBT kids at home who may have been struggling in silences as they watched the scene air. "For those who had to sit there watching that scene with a lump in your throat because possibly your father or mother or a family member started ranting off about "daai moffie k*k" [Afrikaans for 'that f****t sh*t]... or how "no son/daughter of mine will ever be gay", I hope that you will take away from this, that there is a larger society out there who accepts you, and there is a place for you in it, without you having to change," he writes. "I want to reassure you that things do get better. If you are not comfortable standing up yet, try your best to ignore people trying to take away your dignity. We're a community of amazing "moffies" who brighten up a sad and dreary world with glittery sparkles." The star continues: "Don't think you have to be conform to anybody's idea of what gay is, be the kind of person you want to be. There are many rugby playing, hairy, butch and muscled gays who would make your dad's masculinity pale in comparison. "We're a community of Alan Turings (father of modern day computer technology), Alexander the Greats (conqueror of nations), Leonardo Da Vincis and Michaelangelos (scientific and artistic geniuses who propelled us out of the Dark Ages). And of course, Ellen DeGenereses whose positivity and humor brings out laughter and smiles all around! "Being different isn't a bad thing. I know the loneliness of being the bullied non-rugby playing skinny kid. I know the fear of hearing peers jeering at the kid who is maybe more effeminate than you and just being happy that this time they're giving you a skip. "Being different is quite possibly the thing that will give you the strength to one day be the most amazing human being that you can offer the world. The world needs you. It needs us. And there is a space here for everybody." He adds: "And your loved ones - I can only hope that they see past your differences and that one day they will love and accept you for who you are. It will not happen overnight - give them time also to process things." Tuit ends the letter by saying: "So on the day when you're ready to take that step (and yes it will be terrifying) - when you're ready to heave that burden from your shoulders and to accept yourself and love yourself for who you are - remember that there is a community (of decent human beings, gay and straight and other) - and we're here for you." You're damn right we are. More stories: BBC News’ James Longman on the reality of reporting from the Middle East as a gay man George Michael's former partner Fadi Fawaz breaks silence after singer's cause of death is confirmed