LGBT+ PRIDE MONTH 2019 : Q & A WITH DARREN AND MARK
The month of June was chosen as LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held during this month to recognise the impact LGBT people have had in the world. For Joburgers, October is Pride Month here in Gauteng, and according to Wiki, it was first held in South Africa on the 13th October 1990. The event was initiated and organised by GLOW, the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW) that was founded by gay anti-apartheid activist Simon Nkoli in 1988.
We did a Pride feature back in 2017, and this year we’re back and featuring Darren and Mark.
If you, the reader, know of any other inspirational LGBT+ individuals or your own story we could feature contact us.
Thank you for sharing your story.
In their own words …
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELVES, AND WHAT SHAPED YOU TO LIVE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF TODAY?
DC: Mark and I met at a bar that was in Cresta on an evening 3 and a half years s ago, that both of us had almost not gone to. I went that evening because a mutual friend of ours had begged me to go out that night. Mark had been to a movie earlier and his friend had pleaded with him to go out for one drink.
I believe that life is precious and nothing should be taken for granted. At the risk of sounding “old”, once you reach a certain age, you start to realize this. In terms of living an authentic life, should you not be living this way already, you are only kidding yourself. To live with the internal trauma of guessing who knows and who doesn’t isn’t a way to live life. Also, the people who love and know you, more than likely know before you do.
MC: When Darren and I met – I had been single for about 6 months after a 15-year relationship that had ended. My previous relation just ended. No pain, no massive arguments, we had drifted from lovers/partners to friends. We made the decision to end it.
I met Darren in a pub, a friend dragged us out separately and introduced us, and that, as they say, is that! On our life journey, I suppose we are happy just being together. There is little need for constant excitement. Good honest relationship stuff like being together, eating out, holidays, walking the dog that’s the satisfying extent of our days.
I am obsessed with watching Formula 1 racing and a massive fan of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. We enjoy good food and discovering new places to eat at. Almost always before a decision is made on where we eating, Darren will already have Googled the restaurant’s menu. He plans what he will order before we’ve arrived, whereas I wait for him to order then order something completely different and strange. This way he will taste something new outside of his comfort zone and broaden his food adventure. I love a good cold Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc. Lastly, dedication to corporate work has resulted in my retail career being the backbone of my life and also ensured an opportunity for me to live in many cities and countries, an incredible experience.
AT WHAT AGE DID YOU EACH REALIZE/ACCEPT THAT YOU WERE GAY?
MC: I was very confident that I was gay in my late teens,17/18, but being at an all-boys school in Joburg I was very much on the Down Low (aka in the closet). I only came out when I moved to Edinburgh University in 1994.
DC: I realized I was gay at an early age before I was 20 actually. I had no issue with my sexuality as I was always taught that being gay did not make you any different from everybody else.
WHEN YOU CAME OUT TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS, WERE THEY ACCEPTING OF YOU? IF ACCEPTING OR NOT, HOW DID THIS MAKE YOU FEEL? DID IT MATTER TO YOU HOW THEY FELT?
DC: When I “came out” my parents and friends did not judge or criticise my sexuality. I have never believed that one’s sexuality needs to be a huge announcement. People either accept you as you are or they don’t. I firmly believe that you are who you are and the people who love you will accept this, with no judgement or conditions.
MC: On the whole, my family is a story of two halves. My brother, cousins and my favourite aunt have been 100% supportive from the first day. It took my mum a little while longer to get it resolved in her space but has become the most loving and supporting member of the family. My dad was a traditional farmer and while he was polite and never unkind about me being gay, he was not fully accepting. It just did not sit correctly with his upbringing and family values. When he passed away I knew he was proud of me for all my achievements, but still a little sad that I turned out to be gay.
YOU MAY HAVE SEEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA HOW GARETH THOMAS WAS FORCED TO SHARE HIS HIV STATUS PUBLICLY. THIS HAPPENS REGULARLY IN THE LGBT+ COMMUNITY. WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR COMING OUT, WAS IT A DECISION YOU TOOK OF YOUR OWN ACCORD OR WERE YOU “ENCOURAGED” TO COME OUT FOR WHATEVER REASON?
MC: I applaud Gareth Thomas’ actions and stance. There was never any agenda or force to get me to “come out“, I just knew that I wanted to be 100% Mark and that involved telling people the whole parts of me.
DC: The decision to come out was taken on my own accord, there was no let’s sit down with parents and talk about my sexual preference, it just happened.
“Deal with the Facts – there is no point in worrying about what’s not actually happened yet.” – Mark
WAS IT LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?
DC: I don’t know if it was love at first sight but it definitely was lust at first sight!
MC: No, I was not looking for more than a very short friendship (aka one nightstand), but Mr Cohen has a way to make you fall for him. It’s his pure soul and his killer smile.
ARE YOU MARRIED, ENGAGED OR COUPLED UP? ARE THERE PLANS TO ADD A CHILD OR TWO TO GROW THE FAMILY?
MC: Zero plans for kids. We believe we are both too old now. We are quite happy being uncles to my nephews and nieces. As for marriage, I’m allergic to it! We will just be happy together forever. No need for a formal ring or party or ceremony.
DC: Mark and I are a couple who live together, and there are no plans for any children in the foreseeable future.
WHAT DO YOU TWO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
DC: Drinking wine, gin and socialising with friends.
MC: Eat out. Plan holidays. Go on holiday. I am planning on buying a classic car and tinkering to refurbish it.
“If my food looks like a piece of art on my plate then it should rather be in an art gallery!” – Darren
DO YOU PREFER TO EAT IN OR EAT OUT? CHICKEN OR BEEF? PIZZA OR SALAD? FINE DINING OR TAKEOUT?
MC: We love eating out especially so that Darren can try new things. We like good quality but good value restaurants. New places, fusion menu and a good wine list but not prohibitively expensive. Current favourite is The Social Food Club in Bloemfontein.
DC: During the week our preference is to eat at home, but on the weekends we like to eat out, trying new restaurants that we have heard good reviews about. I’m more of a chicken person, but not averse to a good steak. I like Pizza and enjoy a good Caesar’s salad. If we finedining then the portions better be of a decent size. If my food looks like a piece of art on my plate then it should rather be in an art gallery!
HOW DO YOU BALANCE LIFE, WORK AND SOCIAL COMMITMENTS?
DC: During the week, we limit our social engagement’s, I’m a big believer in balance, so I try to balance the 3 elements as best as I can, not always so easy, but you have to try.
MC: We pick only the invites we really want or need to go to …haha, honestly, we do socialise regularly and I work long hours but we do manage to separate the two well.
IF YOU HAD A “DAY PASS” WHICH CELEBRITY CRUSH (LOCALLY) WOULD YOU USE IT ON?
MC: I would love a beer with Bobby van Jaarsveld, purely to improve my Afrikaans now that I live in Bloemfontein.
DC: Jonathan Boynton-Lee for sure!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE DEALING WITH THE ACCEPTANCE OF THEIR OWN SEXUALITY AND THAT OF FAMILY/SOCIETY?
MC: Take some time to be comfortable with yourself, who are you, who do you want to become. Then in a considered & calm manner tell the people that mean the most to you. You and the people that mean the world to you are really the only ones that matter.
DC: Be grateful for everything you have in your life and never take anything for granted.
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