Boni & Wes is a true love story about a queer couple, Boni and Wesley Leal. This film tackles issues about homophobia, being in a queer relationship and also being young and in love. This short film celebrates the amazing love journey Boni and Wes have shared as High school sweethearts who even after facing some trying times have managed to keep their love burning and growing.
Boni and Wes have faced many adversaries, from them getting in trouble in high school, being questioned about their sexuality, to Wes finally taking the step to celebrate his true sexuality. This short film is a true celebration of their love.
This short film also shines a light on same sex relationships, sparking up conversations about how there isn’t just one way to look at it. Different couples, go through different trials and tribulations. In the end, all that matters is that love conquers all. Personally We felt like we needed to know more about them cause their love is a beautiful story hence we conducted an interview to know them a bit more.
On the film we got to know that Wesley identifies as a transmasculine [ someone assigned a female sex at birth and who identifies as masculine, but may not identify wholly as a man, according to the dictionary for those who don’t know] but what does Boni identify as?
I identify as a black lesbian woman although that often confuses people. A lot of people think my choice to continue identifying that way is wrong, that I’m either emasculating Wes or trying to hold onto a label that no longer belongs to me. I think that’s really strange but both operate under the misguided notion that your sexual orientation is dependent On the gender of your current partner. I’ve been a dyke forever, realised when I was 13, came out at 15 and then got married to my husband not too long after that. I won’t magically stop becoming a lesbian. It’s such a huge part of my identity and the word really helped me when I needed a community and a better sense of myself.
How was “coming out to your parents and explaining to them about your sexuality and that you’re dating someone of a different race as you ?
W: My experience of coming out to my family and telling them about my relationship with Boni was pretty much a non-event. I try not to center my experience around what my family thinks and feels. We’ve constantly experienced extreme scrutiny from outsiders and people have always kept a close eye on us, both positive and negative. From our teachers back in high school to strangers passing in public, we’re on everyone’s radar it sometimes feels like and so we try to focus only on us and our little world.
B: My family was not really surprised by the fact that I’m queer. I’m so privileged to have had an extremely easy coming out where every member of my family accepted me, no questions asked. They all love Wes which also makes things super easy and enjoyable.
How does it feel to be a young, happily married queer couple in 2020 living in South Africa?
Right now things obviously feel very scary but having each other to sleep next to and hold hands with is something that we will never ever take for granted again. It feels a little less jarring and unfamiliar to have your person by your side through this.
While you were apart, did you keep in contact?
We literally spent more than half of everyday for a year on FaceTime. It was so incredibly difficult to go from seeing each other everyday to living in different cities but we both knew that Boni leaving to study in Cape Town brought us one step closer to living the life we had always imagined for ourselves. We ended every single day with a bedtime phone call often speaking for hours into the early morning on school nights.
How did the journey of Wes transitioning, affect your relationship?
Wes starting Hormone Replacement Therapy intensified everything good about our relationship. He was finally fully present because who he is was no longer being repressed. I’ve never ever seen him this happy before. We’re constantly laughing! His goofy laugh fills up the entirety of the space he’s occupying.
What’s one thing you absolutely love about each other?
B: I love how gentle Wes is. In everything he does and says.
W: Boni’s mind is one of the most powerful things that I’ve been exposed to. She can figure anything out when she wants to. It’s incredible to watch.
What has kept your fire burning for such a long time?
Every Morning we make time to cuddle before rushing off on our separate ways for the day. We always joke that our morning cuddles are the glue that holds our relationship together but we’re definitely not going to give it up even if it’s not true. We think it’s so important to be able to have that regular physical contact with each other and not take it for granted or postpone it. A lot of couples think that this is why sex is so important in a relationship but we really think it’s just about having your body close to another person.
What inspired you to tell your love story?
The project came to be when we were approached via Instagram by Helen, one half of director-duo Helen Raine and Kim Hinrichs of Motion City Films. Helen reached out about 4 months into Wes’ transition asking to collaborate with us on a short film about our life together.
She explained that she’d been following our story via social media for some time and that it really touched her how we were able to overcome so much adversity and still remain hopeful at such a young age. She proposed that we meet up and start talking through adapting our story and writing a script together. We knew it was something we had to do to not only make peace with our traumatic past at our high school but to also share our experiences for the sake of someone else who might be going through something similar.
Representation always matters.
Which one word best describes your relationship?
Corny – lol
How was it like working with your spouse, as your spouse?
Working together on this film was really easy. Working together is all we really know and do. We’ve been collaborating for years, inspiring and informing each other’s work. We’re glued at the hip so being on camera was no different for us thankfully.
Watch the short film here
Congratulations on winning the Grand Prix at Ciclope Africa 2020.
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