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Have MKR girls become new gay role models?

My Kitchen Rules contestants Carly and Tresne have been praised for announcing they are a couple.

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My Kitchen Rules contestants Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton have been praised for coming out as lesbians by homosexual support services who say they "don’t have a big smorgasbord of celebrities to choose from".

I think anyone disclosing their sexuality in the media is a good thing in terms of young people have very few role models 

The two reality show contestants from NSW were initially promoted on the program as close friends, or "besties", but on Monday publicly declared via an interview with New Idea magazine that they are actually in a relationship.

Supportive ... Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton say <i>My Kitchen Rules</i> respected their wish not to be outed on the show.

Supportive ... Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton say My Kitchen Rules respected their wish not to be outed on the show.

Saunders, who is a school teacher, told the magazine the pair didn’t initially 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 an affiliate of the Seven Network.

The pair, who remain on the show, did not reveal why they now felt comfortable in coming forward with news of their relationship.

Carly and Tresne - My Kitchen Rules.

My Kitchen Rules couple Carly and Tresne.

Manager Terence Humphreys from Twenty10, a not-for-profit support service for gay and lesbian people, praised Saunders and Middleton for "being brave" and for becoming role models for others. 

Humphreys said it was not uncommon for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, intersex, transgender and queer (LGBITQ) people to maintain secrecy regarding their private lives.

“We still live in a society where everyone’s presumed to be heterosexual and cisgender and people still need to disclose that they’re not those things, which adds a whole lot of pressure on them,” Humpreys said.

“A lot of people hide their relationship or identity status because they don’t feel safe to disclose it, or are worried about prejudices and that people will judge them differently.

“For people who have been at the receiving end of marginalisation, it’s not fun. Rejection and being judged for who you are is not fun.”

MKR executive producer Evan Wilkes, said: “It was Carly and Tresne’s decision not to disclose their relationship. Production respected their decision.”

A spokeswoman for the show declined to comment further.

Middleton and Saunders, who met through a mutual friend, celebrated their love with a commitment ceremony two years ago.

Middleton said many of the contestants and production staff realised they were more than just friends early in the series.

"We applied to be on MKR and said we were best friends," Middleton said. "But the producers picked up we were a couple straight away. All the other teams knew about us.

"They picked it up after the second instant restaurant, even though we are not a couple who indulge in public displays of affection."

Humphreys suggested more needed to be done if Australia was to get to the point where a person’s sexuality or gender identity doesn't get singled out as a “newsworthy topic”.

“I don’t think Australia is there just yet, but certainly it’s something to work towards,” he said.

“I think anyone disclosing their sexuality in the media is a good thing in terms of young people have very few role models that they can look out and see because there is so much pressure and stigma and violence against people who are LGBITQ because we don’t have a big smorgasbord of celebrities to choose from.”

Nicolas Parkill, CEO of gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) health organisation ACON, declined to comment specifically about MKR but said many people still felt they had to hide their sexuality.

"Unfortunately, homophobia is alive and well in our community," Parkhill said.

"Many LGBTI people have experienced verbal or physical abuse, as well as other types of discrimination, which can have a devastating impact on a person's mental health and well being, not to mention their career."

While there have been hundreds of messages on social media in support of Saunders and Middleton, some are calling the timing of the revelation a publicity stunt.

"Being cynical, assuming #mkr kept it up their sleeve in case ratings dovetailed," wrote one Twitter poster.

Another of the show's fans commented on its Facebook page: "If you didn't want your sexual preference to influence people, then why come out publicly mid-way through the series rather than wait till the end... a publicity boost for the show and you."

Publicist Trish Maskaric from PR company Markson Sparks, said that with so many reality shows on television, Saunders and Middleton's revelation will only endear them more to the public and extend their "15 minutes of fame".

Markson Sparks! is not affiliated with the 2014 MKR series but has represented contestants in past seasons.

"For any one of them to stay in the headlines they really need to bring in something special, have genuine talent and have that 'X' factor to cross over from being 'infamous' to famous," Ms Maskaric said.

"With today's news of MKR's Carly and Tresne coming out as a married couple, from a PR point of view I think it was a very clever move to get their names out in the headlines and help them stand out from the rest of the cast."

MKR producers have been approached for a response.

- with AAP