“In a country with high levels of unemployment and large levels of poverty it’s so easy to exploit these situations and the law is there to protect that.”
Daddy Squared: The Gay Dads Podcast looks at fatherhood options for gay men in South Africa. We talked with South African Power Couple Andrew and Brent (who are responsible for the first ever Primetime gay kiss on South African TV) about parenting options and rights for gay men in South Africa.
“Daddy Squared Around the World: South Africa” is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and wherever you get your podcasts. Notes and resources now available at daddysqr.com/southafrica
“Daddy Squared: The Gay Dads Podcast” returns for Season 4 to capture gay dad options and rights in a post-pandemic world. In each episode, Alex and Yan, a married couple and fathers of five-year-old twins, talk with gay dads from a different country, discussing equal rights and options for gay men.
“Gay men look at this podcast as either a resource for family building or an intimate look at the lives of gay dads,” Yan explains, “that inspired us to come up with country-specific resources, that we hope will be expanded and updated by the community.”
South Africa was pretty much at the forefront of human rights for the LGBTQI+ community. During the apartheid era, homosexuality was a crime and that was written into the law until 1994. Thanks to groups like the African National Congress (ANC) and the freedom fighters, fighting for democracy, equality, and human rights, they have passed laws that legalized homosexuality, including same-sex marriage being written into the South African constitution in 1996.
While many of the more metropolitan areas of South Africa sit on the more progressive side of the issue, Brent says much of South Africa is rural and holds on tightly to their more conservative views.
“I think it’s important to note that we can’t whitewash South Africa with this brush, [as well]. Our rural areas are very rural. We have massive levels of poverty in this country, so it would be remiss to look at our experience as the norm. Our experience is one side of the coin, where at one level of society it’s accepted and understood. There is a large part of South African society which is inherently driven by it’s “African-ness.” I’m going to use the word “tribal”, and I mean that very deliberately. Africa and South Africa are still spread into regional tribal loyalties, etc; and in those rural communities it’s a lot more difficult to be accepted.”
By 2002 the Constitutional Court gave the right for same sex couples to adopt, and that was written into the Children’s Act in 2005, making adoption legal for gay men in South Africa. This has evolved to no longer differentiating between whether you are two dads or a mom and a dad during the application process.
Surrogacy is also legal, albeit altruistic. There are many rules and regulations put in place to ensure that every step along the way is above boards and unquestionably ethical, although it seems that even under the guidelines, there tends to be some sort of remuneration, not necessarily with cash.
“It’s all written straight into our high courts. So you can enter into a contractual relationship with a surrogate, but it can’t be superseded by the law that’s already there. It’s a remarkably protected environment for a largely minority population.”
Andrew and Brent are co-parents, with the children coming from Andrew’s previous marriage to a woman. While Andrew knew from a young age that he was different, he had a hard time envisioning his life in the corporate world as a gay man.
“I’d subconsciously decided that there was no place for a gay man in the corporate world, so I literally met, fell in love with, married, white picket fenced, two dogs one of the first girls I met, and I have zero regrets about that.”
Although Brent hadn’t necessarily pictured his life with children, he had a feeling that Andrew was the one and he was determined to remain open, and explore what his intuition was telling him.
“I don’t believe that I would ever have imagined that I’d meet someone with children already,” Brent says. “I didn’t think that it’d be part of my life’s journey, but when I met Andrew the first night we went on a date, I knew he was the one, I knew that this was the guy for me and yes, we spoke about the fact that he had kids on that first date. He was very upfront about the fact that he had kids, and I didn’t let it disturb me, because I thought, I like this guy, I think that this relationship can go somewhere, maybe kids can be a bonus. Maybe having kids around can actually add value to my life.”
Power Couple Andrew and Brent have been together for 13 years, and are best known in South Africa from the TV reality show My Kitchen Rules. Brent is a journalist, best known for his GoodThingsGuy.com website, reaching over two million visitors a month, and his Cliffcentral show. He first made a splash in 2014 when he created the RAK initiative, aimed at giving back and helping those in need, which became a global phenomenon. Andrew is an entrepreneur, thought leader, and MD for two agencies, as well as a former musical theatre actor. He works around the world in the fields of sponsorship, brand activation, experiential marketing and social media.