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Kyle Viljoen isn’t afraid of a little boatmance.
The stew has found himself in some romantic situations prior to joining the Below Deck Mediterranean Season 7 crew. “I wish I could say no, but yes, I did,” Kyle told Bravo Insider in an interview last week when asked if he had ever hooked up with a fellow crew member. “But luckily, I don’t aim low on the rank. I go all the way up. So I skipped captain, and then I went to the first officer. Not necessarily ran after him; he ran after me, OK, let’s just put that there. I normally have these people coming to me and I’m like, ‘Why are you doing this to me right now?’ But anyway, yes, it was a first officer on one of my first vessels. It was like a one-night stand over three nights type of situation.”
But this isn’t a position the stew ever wants to find himself in again because he doesn’t believe relationships at sea are built to go the distance. “In my personal opinion, a relationship on a vessel is the most toxic relationship in hand, on book, on paper, in article, on front page. It is not a good place to go. Because, you know, when you get into being in a relationship and getting to know individuals, you kind of also need your personal space,” he said. “But in this case, you literally live, breathe, eat, and work with this individual. And it starts off cute, and then it goes downhill very fast. So when I see it happening in front of me, I’m like, oh, s--t, this is not gonna turn out well. Although, you know, you look cute together, I just don’t see it happening in the long run.”
Since Season 7 of Below Deck Med, Kyle has found love on land with his boyfriend, Zachary, whom he introduced during the July 25 Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen After Show (clip above). “I am officially in a very, very loving, supportive, charismatic, outgoing, adventurous relationship,” Kyle gushed to Bravo Insider. “This man, Zachary, is definitely my future husband. There’s no doubt about it.”
Kyle met Zachary in New York City and “fell head over heels for him.” Zachary’s work as a physical therapist and his desire to focus on helping transgender patients also “won my soul,” as Kyle put it. “This guy’s got [an] amazing heart,” the Below Deck Med stew said.
And as Kyle becomes more comfortable with his new status as a Bravoleb, it’s a good thing Zachary is also a big Bravo fan. “Oh my god, Zachary. Literally, I think I have cable just for anything Bravo-related when it comes to him. He has watched every single season of every Below Deck imaginable, every Housewives imaginable, from the first episode up until the latest. He is the biggest fan. He has the utmost respect for [Captain Sandy Yawn]. Obviously, [she’s] very relatable to our community. And definitely, he said this is a very spicy season,” Kyle shared. “And he’s excited to see where it goes. I don’t share anything with him. I want to see his reaction as if he was watching, you know, [from the] audience perspective. And he is genuinely shook by the s--t that comes out of my mouth.”
After everything he has gone through in the past, Kyle expressed his gratitude for finding love with Zachary. “I had to work hard, and I went through a lot of s--t to get here, you know,” he said. “So I’m glad at least grass grew on the other side of the s--t pile.”
Kyle has opened up about learning to be his most genuine self on this season of Below Deck Med, sharing that he didn’t always feel like he was free to express his sexuality while growing up in South Africa, including a 12-year relationship that he “always kept a secret,” as he described on the Season 7 premiere. “It was a struggle to go through 12 years of that. You’re kind of stuck in that relationship because the community’s so small. And you’re like, you know what, this is kind of what you have to settle with the whole time, you know what I mean? And I don’t want to settle for that, but I did for 12 years,” Kyle shared on WWHL. “And it did teach me a lot. And throughout the season, you’re gonna see a lot how I’m actually there for people’s relationships, you know? That’s gonna be quite interesting, how that turns out.”
Kyle came out as gay about a year before he joined the Below Deck Med Season 7 crew. “When it comes to the whole being so open about it and coming out, I’ve literally been out only for two years, officially, verbally, where I’ve informed my family and friends and everyone. But, I mean, I’ve been gay as long as I can remember,” Kyle told Bravo Insider of his journey with his sexuality. “I needed to go through these life circumstances, these life happenings, to realize, you know what, this is who I am. And the moment I accepted it, I was completely free. But I said at that point, after lying for so long to myself, I will not lie about anything more in my life. I’m a complete open book.”
The stew has appreciated the opportunity to let Below Deck Med fans into this part of his life as well. “So when I get to share my story, it has been really fantastic to have this platform to do so,” Kyle said. “I’m on a boat with Sandy as well. [We’re] both part of the LGBTQIA+ community. I’ve never had a gay captain before, and this is literally the moment of a lifetime for me in yachting. That definitely has been the peak, to work alongside Sandy.”
Since the season started airing, Kyle said he has received so many “meaningful messages” on Instagram from people of all backgrounds around the world, sharing how he has inspired them. “People ask me, do I regret coming out so late? And yeah, I feel like I missed out on a lot of opportunities [for] being my real, authentic self. I was always so scared to do certain things or say certain things or [be] put in a box,” he said. “My advice going out to all these people that come out, I mean, every story is special and touching, but the thing is, there is no better truth than being true to yourself. And that goes in all aspects. Whether it’s a bad relationship, whether it’s you coming out, whether it’s you do not like this job. At the end of the day, the rejection you’re gonna have is the protection that you receive. So whatever doesn’t work for you in life, you are gonna be protected regardless. So, honey, you are so welcomed by the biggest community, and we’re all here for you.”
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