Loyiso Bala backs down on gay gaffe
They are possibly SA's most famous siblings - clean cut, successful and good looking. The Bala brothers, Zwai, Loyiso and Phelo, seem to live an enchanted life.
But a cloud hung over the family this week after Loyiso - an award-winning musician and director of the popular Christian TV channel TBN - faced a backlash on social media for comments he made about his brother, which some considered to be homophobic.
Phelo Bala is gay and in a relationship with comedian, actor and presenter Moshe Ndiki.
The couple decided to go public with their romance earlier this year and have been applauded for being unapologetically in love, and for sharing this with fans on social media.
In his controversial birthday message to Phelo last Sunday, posted on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, Loyiso wrote: "I'm in no position to judge you but to love you and to always point you to Christ. Your relationship with him will define your life's purpose."
Hundreds of responses flowed in.
Farrakhan jnr posted: "Basically you telling him 'happy birthday you sinner, judgement day is coming'."
Thandeka posted: "But yo comment is judgemental mos. U believe he needs Jesus bcos of his sexual orientation. Christians are the worst!!!"
An angry Loyiso tweeted back: "I am being judged for somehow being judgemental."
On Tuesday night, Loyiso backed down and posted an apology: "On Sunday, I tweeted a post that offended the LGBTI community. I sincerely apologise as it was not my intention to hurt anyone, but to express my love for my brother. I am against all forms of discrimination and I support all who strive for equal rights and social justice."
Phelo and Ndiki said they did not want to comment about the furore.
But Loyiso admitted he had endured a nightmare week after being trolled on social media.
He said that he had been flummoxed by his post sparking such emotion.
"I was shell-shocked and decided to go back [to the post] and see exactly what I said and why didn't anybody else on Facebook or Instagram alert me to this. I read it and I still didn't see what the crux of the problem was. I began to think it was because they thought when I said 'him' in the post I was talking about Moshe . but it wasn't that. I was referring to Jesus."
Loyiso reiterated that he fully supported his brother, and said the debacle had brought them closer.
"I have always known about Phelo. This is not the first time that Phelo has been in a relationship. I also knew before most people about him and Moshe. I knew just how serious it was when he started posting about it," Loyiso said.
He said he loved Jesus and he believed in equality, so his personal stance on homosexuality was simple: "The Bible has the final authority over my life but it doesn't teach us to reject those who have different beliefs. Everyone should be allowed to love whoever they want to." He said that before Phelo decided to go public with his sexuality, he had approached him for advice.
Loyiso said that ever since Phelo had gone public with his relationship, trolls had been randomly insulting him (Loyiso) about being homophobic. He said he wanted critics to know that he loved Phelo unconditionally.