Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton. POPULAR My Kitchen Rules contestants Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton have been praised for revealing their romantic relationship by homosexual support services that say young gay people have few celebrity role models.
The home cooks from Maryland were promoted on the Prime7 show as being best friends, but publicly declared yesterday through an interview with New Idea magazine they had celebrated their love in a commitment ceremony.
The couple planned an engagement party in March 2012, when they surprised 50 of their family and friends by changing into wedding dresses and bringing out a celebrant.
Warners Bay High School food technology teacher Saunders told the magazine the pair wanted viewers to judge them on their cooking skills and initially didn’t tell the producers or the other contestants they were in a steady relationship.
‘‘We wanted to go on the show as ourselves and have people judge us on our cooking and not our sexual preference,’’ Saunders told New Idea, which is affiliated to the Seven Network.
But Steve Bates Real Estate agent Middleton said many of the contestants and production staff realised early in the series.
‘‘They picked it up after the second instant restaurant, even though we are not a couple who indulge in public displays of affection.’’
Budgewoi-raised Saunders, 32, and Clarence Town-raised Middleton, 29, met about eight years ago and bonded over their love of music festivals. They sport identical music-note tattoos that Saunders said were ‘‘to remind us not to get so busy making a living we forget to make a life’’.
The couple told the magazine they had enjoyed two proposals – at a music festival a year after they met and another in England, where they worked for 10 months.
Saunders told the Newcastle Herald in late February that participating on the show had strengthened their relationship.
‘‘I’ve never met anyone like Tres and we’ve been inseparable ever since we’ve known each other – she’s one of a kind,’’ she said.
Manager Terence Humphreys from Twenty10, a non-profit support service for gay and lesbian people, praised Saunders and Middleton for ‘‘being brave’’ and becoming role models.
“I think anyone disclosing their sexuality in the media is a good thing …
‘‘Young people have very few role models they can look out and see because there is so much pressure and stigma and violence against people who are LGBITQ [lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, intersex, transgender and queer], because we don’t have a big smorgasbord of celebrities to choose from.”
By MICHAEL IDATO
IF you missed the headline, this is it: Carly and Tresne, best friends to the 2million-plus viewers of My Kitchen Rules every week, are a gay couple.
Not the first gay people on television, but Australian television’s first reality TV gay super-couple, perhaps.
While the audience digest this rather large morsel and its implications for a reality TV show where everything hinges on personality conflict and game play, it begs the question: in the heavily manipulated world of reality TV, just who is pulling the strings?
The producers have said the decision to keep their sexuality out of the picture was made by the contestants themselves.
But the secret is out, and the series is still on air. Which means the declaration has all the hallmarks of a reality TV twist, designed to affect the game or the audience’s perception.
Whether the decision to keep their sexuality a secret is indeed their own is almost beside the point now.
The inescapable truth is that twists and turns are the highest-denomination currency in the world of reality TV.
Some of those are structural, such as reinstating previously jettisoned contestants on MasterChef or staging fake evictions on Big Brother. Much like exchanging tribe members on Survivor, they are simply par for the course now and barely cause a blip on the radar.
The closest analogy to Carly and Tresne’s revelation is perhaps that of Big Brother contestant David Graham, who chose to use his appearance on the series as a platform to come out – not just to the TV audience and his housemates, but to some members of his family as well.
Unlike most twists of this genre, Carly and Tresne’s declaration did not come via the program itself but via the Seven Network-owned New Idea magazine.
This is clearly different. Their message is not necessarily political. Nor can it affect the outcome of the series. Or can it? Unlike some reality TV shows, audience voting does not shape the outcome of ‘‘the game’’ on My Kitchen Rules.
But it does shape the conversation and will perhaps help Seven push the show’s ratings even higher.
In marketing terms, the strategy has already paid off.
Continue reading Maryland MKR pair come outto wide acclaim