Masterchef's Brendan Pang On Coming Out, and Why it's Time To Stand Up Against Discrimination - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Masterchef’s Brendan Pang On Coming Out, and Why it’s Time To Stand Up Against Discrimination

"I’m proud of who I am." - by Brendan Pang

Masterchef alum Brendan Pang has partnered with Snapchat and Minus18 to celebrate diversity on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) with AR Lenses. Here, he speaks about his experience growing up LGBTQIA+ in a Chinese-Mauritian family, and what it was like to come out on national TV.

I have always been exceptionally introverted. In school, I was too scared to put up my hand in class, and when I attempted to audition for the school play, my nerves got the better of me. As an Australian-Chinese-Mauritian, I encountered many obstacles growing up in WA and for as long as I can remember, and up until the age of 24, when I came out to my mum, I struggled with my sense of self identity. Feelings of being ‘different’ very early on created some pretty dark times for me and I constantly felt the need to change who I was to fit in.

My coming out story was a whirlwind. I came out to my mum in the car on the way to compete in MasterChef 2018 and all of a sudden, was thrown into a competition far away from my family and friends, where the focus was on food and winning the coveted trophy.

Mum was so calm. She said she had always known, that she loved me and would support me no matter what.

It was a big step for me to audition for MasterChef and I wanted to go into the experience feeling like I was being my most authentic self. The focus of the show was obviously the food so I kept my sexuality quiet, especially since I’d only officially come out to my mum.

I did give her my permission to tell my close family and they were so accepting and embraced me no differently than before, which I know is not the case for a lot of people in the community.

Since coming out publicly after the show I have received so much love. After coming out, I have been back on MasterChef Back to Win 2020 and the support has been incredible. In saying that, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to visibility of the queer community.

My boyfriend Nick and I have experienced discriminatory behaviour first hand having had a bottle thrown at us on a night out. It’s awesome to see progress with acceptance in the last few years, but there’s more to be done.

I’m much more confident now that I feel like I’m being my true self. I’m proud of who I am, and that’s why I’m really glad to have partnered with Snapchat and Minus18 to launch the ‘Proudly Diverse’ campaign with inclusive AR lenses.

I want to show the young members of the community that it’s okay to be proud to be yourself. As a member of two minority groups I think if there was more mainstream LGBTQIA+ visibility around when I was growing up that would have made my journey of self-acceptance a lot easier.

When I was growing up there was no real awareness of the gay community so I’m really glad times are changing and young queer people now have more resources than I did. I’m passionate about mental health and hope that using my platform to talk about LGBTQIA+ issues helps at least one person out there struggling with their identity to accept themselves and start seeing their differences as their strengths.

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