Gay friendly Isidingo celebrates 15 years


Luke (Gary D’Alessandro) and Steve (Emmanuel Castis) get married on Isidingo

Isidingo, the groundbreaking South African soapie, which featured the country’s first gay TV kiss and gay wedding, is celebrating its 15th birthday.

The show, created by Gray Hofmeyr and set in the mining town of Horizon Deep, was launched on SABC 3 in July 1998.

It went on to include a number of gay and bisexual characters including: Steve Stethakis (Emmanuel Castis); Len Cooper (Chris Beasley); Paul McPherson (Carl Beukes); Luke (Gary D’Alessandro); Prada Naicker (Ashish Gangapersad); and Dennis M (Ashley Dowds).

Isidingo made history when it screened the very first gay kiss in a South African television drama, which saw Steve and Len locking lips.

Steve also went on to marry Luke in local television’s first gay wedding, broadcast just days after same-sex marriage was legalised in South Africa in 2006.

Speaking to the New Age, Executive Producer Pumla Hopa said: “The thing that sets us apart is that we deal with issues in society from homosexuality, xenophobia, mixed marriages and HIV-Aids. We introduced a different style of storytelling.”

The show has suffered a number of challenges over the years, including a fire that devastated its sets last year and a decline in its audience.

Despite this, the daily series continues to have a loyal following.

On Friday, Isidingo will mark the occasion of its birthday by screening its very first episode at 8pm on SABC 3, just after its regular episode broadcast at 7.30pm.

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