Brendan Pang: While Driving to the Airport to Compete on MasterChef, I Came Out to My Mum
For the fifth year in a row, POPSUGAR is dedicating the month of June to recognising LGBTQIA+ voices, having honest conversations about sexuality and gender, and honouring individuality, through personal essays and allyship guidance. A roster of contributors along with the POPSUGAR team are sharing these stories throughout the month, so be sure to find all our pieces here.
So the big day arrived… I packed enough for six months which is how long the MasterChef competition can take, and triple-checked my list.
Favourite cookbooks? Tick.
Clothes for winter later this year if I make it that far? Tick.
I said my goodbyes at home and jumped in the car with Mum. Off to the airport we went.
I was 24 years old and about to embark on the most exciting thing to ever have happened to me. Yet sitting in the car my mind didn’t stop ticking.
“Brendan just be yourself and you will do well. Don’t compromise on any of your values and remember who you are,” I told myself.
I now knew that living for myself and not worrying about what others thought about me was key to fulfillment. Success and happiness were what I made it out to be.
Heading into the competition, my approach was to be the best version of myself at all times, but something didn’t feel right. My palms started to get very sweaty and my heart was racing – just like in the school play audition.
You’d think I’d feel excited but I felt terrified. All I was thinking about was telling my mum something I’d been keeping to myself for the past 20 years.
“Mum I want you to know something before I leave, but I’m scared.”
Comforting me, she asked me what it was.
“Promise me nothing will change.” Yes, she said.
“Do you promise?” Yes, I promise, she said.
I broke down in tears.
Mum said: “Brendan I know, I’ve always known. But I wanted it to come from you. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight or what you do in life. It’s how you do it. I’m so proud of you.”
The tears turned into a downpour. I was hysterically crying. Not because I was afraid of the unknown but because I was now free. I had been carrying this weight on my shoulders for so long and now it was gone.
You see, I’ve known fear for so long – it’s kind of how I’ve survived. I’ve never felt free. Not one moment until… this day. It’s ironic because, in the next moment, I jumped on a plane to head to MasterChef to be confined for months, but boy… I can’t even begin to describe my experience. Every day was like living in a dream.
Long story short, l got eliminated in ninth place and everyone was devastated. But I was excited to be returning home to live happily as my honest self. Looking back on my youth, I’m reminded of pictures of despair.
For so long I wasn’t happy because I lived in my head fearing judgment, wanting to please others, and hiding who I was to fit in. I believed wholeheartedly I would always be alone and never have the courage to come out. I had accepted this truth.
But here I am today. My name is Brendan Pang. I’m 28-years-old and proudly gay. I’m a business owner, cookbook author, and recent father to a frozen dumpling range.
I cook for a living, but I cook food I care about the most. I am me. I’m working to become the best version of myself, through my own work and in my own way. And most importantly, I am happy.
The easiest thing to be in this world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Living fearlessly as your true authentic self can be scary for so many reasons, and this is how I lived for so long.
Pride is knowing that you deserve to take up space in this world just as you are. No apologies, no validation needed. Pride gives me a sense of family and belonging and the strength to own my identity.
You can follow Brendan Pang on Instagram.