‘An inevitable culture shock’: Meet the long-distance gay lovers reuniting in a ‘sleepy’ English village in 90 Day Fiancé UK

A head and shoulders shot of the two interviewees larking around
Sprite and John from 90 Day Fiancé (Image: Warner Bros. Discovery)

90 Day Fiancé UK is back, and for its third season introduces us to John and Sprite, a gay couple who met whilst John taught English in Thailand.

The third series of the hit reality show will follow seven loved-up Brits and their long-distance lovers as they travel the globe in search of lasting love. There will be shocking revelations, explosive family drama, culture clashes and fiery confrontations, alongside heart-warming and hilarious moments, as the couples find out if their love can go the distance and conquer all.  

Now, the show shares their journey as Sprite comes to the UK to consider starting a new life together.

Here, Attitude speaks to John about his sexual awakening, the rollercoaster of reality television, and his four word reply to online haters!

Filming wrapped a while ago. You must be excited for the broadcast now… 

I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time now. I was on the edge of my seat when I first saw the trailer. It’s a thrill ride!

You grew up in South Africa. What were your experiences as a gay man like there?

I didn’t know any gay people growing up, and there was no representation in the media. Being gay just wasn’t a thing – I only ever saw heterosexuality and I had a series of unfulfilling relationships with women. I wasn’t even aware of gay sexuality until I moved to Thailand in my early 20s.

(Image: Warner Bros. Discovery)
(Image: Warner Bros. Discovery)

What was your first encounter like with the gay community?

My first encounter was actually a misunderstanding – a man I presumed was straight invited me for a drink. It turned out he had been asking me on a date! I was so confused, but equally intrigued. Thailand was a more accepting culture and I realised – I wasn’t in South Africa, I was by myself and I could experiment and explore. I’ve never turned back. Sex with a man for the first time was eye-opening – a feeling of: “Oh shit, this is what it’s supposed to feel like!”

How did your family respond when you returned?

It was quite a bumpy road. My siblings and my mum accepted it straight away, but my dad needed time to process and understand. Luckily, we are a functioning family again now and life is just as before. Life in South Africa is better for gay people than ever – a rich community has emerged. It’s always been a boiling pot of different nationalities and cultures, so we are an accepting people.

And now, you’re on 90 Day Fiancé UK documenting your love life. Why are relationships so important to you?

I truly believe that there is a soulmate out there for everyone. And I have long wanted to find mine. I enjoy building relationships with others, even if they don’t always work out. Those journeys teach us things. They prepare us for our ultimate relationship with someone who will support us, improve us and help us grow. I am the man I am today because of the many men who have pushed me, inspired me and loved me.

That’s a beautiful outlook. Would you say you’re naturally a romantic person? How has that shaped your dating experiences?

I try to be. But I was never really taught how to be romantic. I think I’m just naturally a very affectionate person and I’m relationship-driven. I’m not really one for one night stands and on Grindr, it just felt like everyone just wanted a quick hook-up. Especially in Thailand where there are so many tourists on holiday and looking for a fun time. The apps can also be so superficial. It’s easy to feel judged. However, I can’t criticise them too much because ultimately, Tinder led me to meeting Sprite!

However, as the show reveals, your initial meeting was a little complicated…

Well, you could say that! At that time, we were both still in relationships. We had both come to Tinder for the same reason – we had realised that our lives with our then-partners weren’t going to last. We needed someone to talk through, to share frustrations with. We talked for a few weeks online and met at first as friends. But there was an instant attraction. Soon, we were in a relationship and spent the next year together.

And now, the show documents the next step of your relationship – Sprite coming to the UK! What made you want to go through that experience on camera?

When I was approached by production to cast for the show, I realised that this could be an amazing experience for us both as a couple. Making TV is a fun experience – I had done a reality show before – but this would be more meaningful because it would be with Sprite by my side. It was a way of capturing the next chapter of our journey and preserving our memories together.

(Image: Warner Bros. Discovery)
(Image: Warner Bros. Discovery)

At the start of the first episode, you haven’t seen Sprite in a long time and are excited about his arrival. What were the challenges of maintaining a long distance relationships?

Communication is key. With such a big time difference – Sprite was six hours ahead –  it was hard to find time to talk. This wasn’t made any easier by our different working hours – he’s in fashion where I’m a chef. But you have to make time if you want it to work because it is so key to trust. We didn’t see each other every day like a typical relationship – we didn’t know who the other was with or what they were doing – so those regular video calls meant a lot.

There’s a lot of build-up in the episode to Sprite’s arrival at the airport, but to viewers, it doesn’t feel like it quite goes to plan…

Oh, same. In my mind I had imagined he would be running towards me through the terminal in slow motion straight into my arms and excited to see me. The reality was that he was tired, distant and frustrated. He had lost his suitcase and there was no hiding his frustration. But that’s real life for you. Of course, he could have pretended everything was fine and been fake about it – but it’s Sprite’s genuine nature that first attracted me to him.

He’s quick to make some playful, if slightly pointed, comments about your weight…

Sprite is very direct and quick to speak. I don’t think my weight bothers him as much as it appeared. He likes beary guys who are a bit bigger, a bit chubbier… Someone he can cuddle up with. But equally, he’s very blunt and he worries about my health. His father passed away because of health issues related to weight. So, I think what might come off as mean is actually just coming from a place of concern. Partners have to be honest to each other…

Understandably, you articulate your own anxieties about your body on the show too. What made you feel so insecure?

Body image is a big issue for so many gay men. There’s such a pressure to take care of yourself and to look the best. I always felt quite dismissed when out on the scene. In fact, the moment I lost some weight and put on some muscle, I found people were immediately more interested in me. Ultimately, you have to look deeper than what’s on the outside. Love is more than skin deep.

(Image: Warner Bros. Discovery)
(Image: Warner Bros. Discovery)

Of course, Sprite’s visit to the UK brings its own challenges.

He was definitely apprehensive about living in the Great British countryside. Compared to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, my sleepy village is quite the contrast. There isn’t even a bus stop to take him back to civilisation! And then there was the issue of food. Fish and chips doesn’t quite cut it when you’re used to the vibrancy of Thai food culture! It was initially a struggle, I can’t lie, especially because I was working full-time and couldn’t devote every minute to him. It’s an inevitable culture shock…

Looking ahead, the trailers for later in the season suggest there’s some pretty explosive arguments ahead...

Arguing with a partner isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It comes from a place of passion and ultimately, has the potential to make us grow together. Fights lead to resolution. Equally, we are both still young and figuring things out together and learning to be together.

What are you most excited about viewers seeing onscreen?

Our growth, both as a couple and as individuals. We are not the same people in episode one that we are by episode 12.

Inevitably, with any reality TV show, there are going to be critics and trolls on social media. What would you say to people who are critical or judgmental of your relationship?

Mind your own damn business. Everyone is different and Sprite and I are just trying to share our story. To show what different kinds of relationship look like. If someone from outside of the relationship has something to say, I don’t really care. It’s our journey that matters.

And how does that journey end? Are you still together at the end of the series?

You’ll have to tune in and find out!

90 Day Fiancé UK is streaming on discovery+ now

The post ‘An inevitable culture shock’: Meet the long-distance gay lovers reuniting in a ‘sleepy’ English village in 90 Day Fiancé UK appeared first on Attitude.