Australian chef Kylie Kwong has shared her powerful story of coming out to her parents on Anh’s Brush With Fame.
The TV chef and author sat down for a portrait by comedian and artist Anh Do in an emotional episode of the ABC series, and shared stories about her life, career and family.
Kylie explained to Do she was in her mid-teens when she “started to feel all these feelings about who I wanted to be with.”
“They weren’t with the male species and I felt very confused,” she said.
“It was a very lonely time. I couldn’t ask for any help because I didn’t even know what was going on inside of me.”
Kylie said coming out to her parents in her late teens was very difficult. Although her mother was accepting, Kylie said coming out to her father six months later went very differently.
“I’d started seeing a woman and it was very evident I was seeing somebody. I was in love. Your parents can see it.”
‘It was one of the great lessons in life’
It was at dinner one night when Kylie Kwong’s father confronted her about her relationship.
“He knew it was a woman in his heart of hearts. There was a lot of tension,” she said.
“I told him ‘Yes I am [seeing a woman]. Dad I’m gay.’ You always wanted us to be happy. Dad, this makes me happy, this is just who I am.’
“He thanked me for being so honest. But he said ‘I just don’t understand it, and I don’t agree with it.’
“And he said, ‘It’s Wednesday, I want you out of the house by Saturday. From this moment, I disown you as my daughter.’ He said that sentence.
“I felt like I was literally going to be the cause of the family breakup, the close, tight-knit Chinese family.
“I was sobbing, I was a mess. Mum held me very tightly and said ‘My darling, now you can be free. You can be whoever you want to be.'”
Kylie said it was “very quiet” in the house for the next two evenings, but then it all changed.
“I woke up to my father’s sobbing face on my pillow. His whole energy and demeanor was of a vulnerable, smaller presence,” she said.
“He said, ‘You’re my baby and I love you and I just can’t. I don’t understand your way of life but I love you and I want you to stay.’
“He dropped 52 years of ego like that. He had done this transformation in those two silent nights.
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“All of these beautiful emotions arose. From that moment on, he and I had this wonderful relationship and we were great mates.”
Kylie said it was one of the “great lessons in life” to “be yourself, no matter how scared you are to come out with whatever it is to be yourself.”
“There is no other way,” she said.
Kylie Kwong’s wife ‘moved in and never moved out’
Kylie also told Ahn Do about meeting her wife, artist Nell, at an art exhibition in 2006. The happy couple married in March.
“Nell happened to be [at the exhibition], and she introduced herself. She’s from the country, very open and very forward,” Kylie explained.
“I invited her into my restaurant for dinner. We talked and talked for about five hours.”
The pair met once more a week later, Kylie recalled, and a week after that “she moved in and she never moved out.”
Sadly, Kylie and Nell lost their son Lucky in 2012 after he was born premature. Kwong said she “cried for 10 hours straight” after doctors gave them the devastating news their son wouldn’t survive.
“In the end, we felt blessed he lived for six days… inside Nell, alive, and then he let go. But the six days was profound,” she said.
“I said to him that I want you to know that we have always loved you, and I promised him that Nell and I would always look after each other.”
During the same-sex marriage campaign, Kwong said she proposed to Nell in 2015 as a 40th birthday present.
“My amazing and beautiful life partner Nell and I started hanging out in September 2006, two months after I lost my dear father to prostate cancer,” Kwong wrote.
“11 years later I can honestly say, having #nellartist in my day-to-day has been the happiest and most fulfilling time of my entire existence.
“No one understands my crazy character or ‘gets me’, more than this person… I am so proud and feel so blessed with her every single day.”
Anh’s Brush With Fame airs Wednesdays at 8pm on ABC and is available to stream on iview.
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