On November 11, 2022, Olivier Borer’s son Naël Yunus was born.
Daniel LeuLeaf Maker Sports
The online comments are fierce. “Nature arranged it in such a way that it takes a man and a woman to bring a child into the world,” writes Sarah S. And Hans L. is irritated: “Now there was probably a child on the shopping list. Ordered, bought and picked up.»
These comments were triggered by Olivier Borer. Now he’s sitting at the dining table in his apartment. He lovingly holds the cause of the indignation in his arms, his two-month-old son Naël Yunus. On the sofa his husband, who is nameless and faceless in public because he wants it that way.
You immediately feel comfortable here. Enjoys listening to Borer, who honestly answers every question. Who says of himself that he is an introvert, but at the same time is open about his gayness and fatherhood and has a public job. Somehow it all doesn’t really fit together at first glance. And one wonders why some are so incensed by him for posting such online comments.
«I like the quiet, fine tones. I’m definitely not a speaker,” he characterizes himself, “but I want to encourage others with my story. I missed these non-conformist role models for a long time. That’s why I talk openly about my life path.” A way of life with which he is often offended. Not because he is particularly brave, but because he is who he is.
Part I: Childhood
The 41-year-old grew up in Schwarzbubenland. A single-family house in Breitenbach SO. Her father was a personnel and management consultant, her mother a housewife, a flight attendant at Swissair and a commercial clerk for most of her professional career. A younger brother.
His passion as a child? Tennis. “Backhand longline – that was my favorite shot.” Once he even became vice cantonal master of the canton of Solothurn. He has kept the silver medal to this day. But the really big ambition never grabbed him. “Sometimes I even treated the opponent when he won.”
It all sounds like the perfect picture book childhood. It was, but: “I realized early on that I’m different from other boys. Maybe that’s why I thought: It’s best not to attract attention. Something else is coming.”
The “something” is homosexuality. From an early age, Borer loved to play with Barbie dolls. His best friends are girls. He loves to dress up. And when mom gets the new summer fashion catalogue, he looks at the men presenting shirtless swimming trunks.
At first, Borer himself does not understand what exactly is going on inside him. “Being gay – I didn’t even know what that was. When I finally understood it, I often felt lonely because of it. I felt like I was the only gay person in the world.” He gets teased at school for it. “That really hit me. Today, what happened to me would probably be called bullying.”
At the same time, his parents are also in crisis. There is a divorce. A difficult time, “but fortunately everything is fine again”. For years, they have all celebrated family celebrations together whenever possible.
When he is 18, he dares to try coming out. With a friend, but deliberately not with his best friend. He writes her a letter, explaining how he feels. The fact that she reacts positively to it gives him self-confidence. A little later, his mother discovers diary entries that he has only disposed of amateurishly. So she asks him, “Are you gay?” His answer: “I don’t want to talk about it”, which of course was also an answer.
If Borer looks back on his teenage years, he says in retrospect: “Meanwhile I’m at peace with myself, but it took a long time.” The process of coming out is still not completely finished. “Even if I meet new people today, it’s still a bit like coming out. There is always a moment of uncertainty about how my counterpart will react to it.”
Part II: The SRF career
Olivier Borer has been working in Leutschenbach since 2008. When a presenter was sought for the Sportlounge background show, he was interested, but initially did not dare to take part in the casting. Until his boss at the time says: “Do it!”
Borer convinces his superiors, gets the job and is in front of the camera for the first time in 2012 in a conversation with Nicola Spirig. Today he says: “I’m basically not blessed with a lot of self-confidence. That has changed in recent years, but I still don’t walk through the city with a big chest and say: I’m the greatest.”
With the TV presence comes the public and the reviews. And they are often not very kind towards him. «Threaded! In the target room interviews, he seems insecure, sometimes pandering – frequent blinking reinforces the impression that he is overwhelmed,” writes “Tele” in 2014. And in a Blick readers’ vote in 2016, he took last place among the sports presenters.
While others would say such comments would not affect them, Borer shows his vulnerable side in this regard as well. “I can’t deny that these reviews hit me. Sometimes I’ve asked myself: do I really want this? Do I have a thick enough skin to expose myself to that?” And does he have it? «Yes, otherwise I would no longer be in front of the camera. The common thing about television is that you have to practice live on the channel and you’re always being compared to those who have been doing it for 20 years.”
Borer says of himself that he is primarily interested in the background stories in sport and that he is not so driven by topicality and football. “I prefer shows in which I have a guest. It shouldn’t be about me, I don’t have to produce myself.”
In other words: Borer would see himself in a show like Sportpanorama. But the new presenter is called Fabienne Gyr. Is that a sign that they are not counting on him internally? For once, Borer answers diplomatically: “A lot depends on coincidences. You have to be in the right place at the right time. As in many other places, everyone at SRF tends their own little garden. I’m not going to put my elbows out just because you might have to.”
Borer apparently feels himself that SRF Sport is not exactly building the future around him. That the background broadcasts are disappearing more and more from the scene. «During Corona I was already wondering what would become of me. I approached 40 and asked myself the question of meaning. »
The result of his considerations: He reduced his SRF workload to 30 percent and started his teacher training at the PH Zurich a year ago. He already teaches a sixth grade every Wednesday morning in Höngg ZH. «My wish is to do both in the future: teacher and moderator. I don’t know how realistic that is. After all, there is now this little miracle.”
Part III: Fatherhood
This little miracle is called Naël Yunus and has been lying in his arms for over an hour. Even as a teenager, Borer always dreamed of having his own family. “But when I realized that I was gay, this dream burst.”
At least for the moment, but already on the first date that he had with his current husband over 20 years ago, Borer talked about his longing for a child. About five years ago, the dream became a realistic goal. A goal with many hurdles.
It takes a surrogate mother, an egg donor, a shipping company that delivers the sperm of the two fathers to the USA, cooled with nitrogen, because surrogacy is forbidden in Switzerland. And it takes money. Lot of money. Fulfilling the dream costs more than 100,000 francs. “As a couple, we thought for a long time whether we should do this, because we are aware that the whole thing is also a business model. But we didn’t buy a baby. We bought the process that got us the baby, the baby we absolutely wanted.”
The process is not yet complete. Currently, Naël Yunus only has an American passport. In the next few weeks, a paternity test will determine who the biological father is – Borer or his husband. Later, the other father can apply for adoption. This is what Swiss legislation wants.
The fact that Borer once again triggered negative reactions with surrogacy is something he can now live with. “The nice thing is that there was a lot more positive feedback than negative. And maybe we can encourage other couples to go public with us.”
Meanwhile, Naël Yunus has woken up and looks at his father with open eyes. Once again you ask yourself why this nice man of all people is so polarizing and what all the criticism has done to him. “I grew from it and learned a lot about myself. Now I have found the way to myself. I’ve gotten to where I always wanted to be.”