An Australian-based celebrity chef, Kylie Kwong, has shared her story about coming as as gay to her dad. It did not, initially, go well.
Kwong, 49, has made a name for herself as a chef, author, television presenter and restaurateur.
A third-generation Chinese Australian, she specializes in traditional Cantonese cooking and food sustainability.
Today she was a guest on the ABC show Anh’s Brush With Fame. In it, artist Anh Do interviews a celebrity while painting their portrait.
Kwong, while being painted, opened up about coming out as gay to her dad.
She starts by saying her dad suspected she was dating a specific woman. So sure was he that he confronted her about it one Wednesday evening. She doesn’t mention her age but was still living at home with her parents.
‘He came into my room and said, “So darling, are you seeing that woman?”
‘And I said, “Yes dad, I am. Dad, I’m gay.” Just looked at him, and I told him.
‘He said, “OK. Well, I just want to thank you for your honesty….”
Kwong interrupted her father.
‘I said, “Dad, I respect you. During our childhood, you and Mum always brought us up to be truthful and honest, and you’ve always said to us, we three kids, that you just want us to be happy”.
‘I said, “Dad, this makes me really happy. This is just who I am. And I’m really sorry if I’ve disappointed you or let you down but I just need to be myself.”
Kylie Kwong’s father threatens to disown her
‘He said, “Darling, I just want to say thank you for being so honest,” but he said, “I don’t… I just don’t understand it and I don’t agree with it.’
He then dropped a bombshell.
‘It’s Wednesday. I want you out of the house by Saturday,’ he told her.
‘From this moment, I disown you as my daughter.’
‘And when you call home, you can speak to your mum and your brothers, but I’m not going to speak to you.’
Kwong says she sobbed. Her dad left the room and her mum came in and was also sobbing.
‘She held me very tightly and she said, “Oh, my darling, now you can be free. You can be whoever you want to be.”’
Kwong says it was very quiet in the house over the next two nights.
Then, to her surprise, her dad came to her.
‘I was fast asleep and I got woken up by these very, very quick, heavy footsteps coming down my corridor. And I woke up to … my father’s sobbing face on my pillow. And his whole kind of energy and demeanour was of this vulnerable … a lot kind of smaller presence. A beautiful presence.
‘And he’s like, “Oh my darling, I can’t do it to you. You’re my baby. You’re my little girl, and I love you and I just can’t … I just can’t. Even though I don’t understand your way of life, I can’t throw you out and I love you and I want you to stay.”’
‘And I just said, “Dad, I’m so proud of you, I’m so inspired by you. You have just…” What he actually did in that moment was, he was 52, he dropped 52 years of ego, just like that.
‘He had done this transformation in those two silent nights. He dropped ego and he became human.’
Mending their relationship
Kwong says that from that moment onwards, she and her father had a ‘wonderful relationship … we were great mates.’ She even realized she and him were very similar in many ways.
In hindsight, the experience was one of ‘the great lessons in life.’
‘We have to be ourself. Be yourself. No matter how hard or scared you are to come out with, you know, what it is to be yourself, you’ve got to be yourself, there is no other way.’
Kwong posted a clip of the video to her own Facebook, thanking Anh Do for the chance to talk about her life.
‘Thank you SO MUCH Anh Do for allowing me to share what really, really matters to me. It was an immense privilege to be interviewed by extraordinary YOU.’
Do you want to come out to parents but fear they will react badly? Read our article: What’s the best way to come out to homophobic parents? You can also call these global LGBTI crisis helplines for advice.