The moment I knew: ‘As we embraced, he suggested we get burgers’

The first time I met Kyran, I looked grotesque. It was Zan Rowe’s 33-and-a-third birthday party in 2011, the theme was “come as your favourite album”. I was just 21, invited to this very cool party full of radio people and not confident enough in my musical taste to pick one.

My genius solution: go as a “greatest hits” album, all beat up and covered in fake blood. I thought it was hilarious but I ended up having to awkwardly explain the concept to every person I met. Then I was introduced to Kyran, who ever-so-coolly wasn’t even in costume. He was the only person who got it and genuinely seemed to find it funny.

Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson with his now-husband Kyran Wheatley, in the early days.
Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson with his now-husband Kyran Wheatley, in the early days

We latched on to each other that night, as you do when you find a kindred spirit in a party full of people you don’t know very well, and I immediately developed a huge crush on him.

In the weeks that followed I thought I was doing a great job of showing my interest, staying up all night texting him during his graveyard shift at Triple J. To this day he is adamant he didn’t catch on and just thought I was a night owl who was bored.

Rhys and Kyran on their wedding night in 2023.
Rhys and Kyran on their wedding night in 2023. Photograph: Daniel Boud

My flirtations continued to go unnoticed until eventually a friend intervened. On our first date we saw the Vines, because he had free tickets from work, and we ended up back at his place. As I nervously paced around his bedroom I came across a Muppet figurine. I do wish this wasn’t a true story, but in my awkwardness I was compelled to seize this detail and take it to its mortifying conclusion: sharing a video of Big Bird singing It’s Not Easy Being Green at Jim Henson’s memorial on my phone as I openly wept.

Amazingly Kyran didn’t leave town just to get away from me, and our relationship spiralled from there. A few months in we were both looking for a place to live and decided to move in together. It was there in our little house on one very, very hungover morning I realised this could be a forever thing. As we crossed paths in the hall and embraced each other for support through the harrowing aftermath of whatever party we’d been at, he suggested we get burgers. I thought, “I could spend the rest of my life with this person who will hug me and make me feel better – and knows what I want to eat.”

Our relationship is built on this kind of minutiae. The little details that mean the world.

Getting together so young means we’ve grown up together. We understand the full context of each other and agree sometimes it veers towards codependency. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. We are completely obsessed with each other but not in a cutesy, psycho way.

When I decided I wanted to propose to him it was the best gossip I had ever heard in my life. For weeks I tried to keep it from the one person I shared absolutely everything with, but eventually came undone after a boozy night at a friend’s wedding. I had grand plans of getting a ring and doing it properly but wound up drunkenly proposing as I flopped into bed with him that night.

Of course he one-upped me some months later, making his own proposal at the top of a mountain in Scotland, fully prepared (and with a ring).

Cover of Dish by Rhys Nicholson

After 13 years together we were married about a month ago. Growing up queer in the 90s, fairytales never felt like they were for me, but I found my prince. Even though it makes me feel ridiculously traditional, I really do love being able to call him my husband and being able to pick that “married” option on drop-down menus.

Rhys Nicholson is the author of Dish (Viking, RRP$34.99). He will be touring Australia with fellow comedian Joel Creasey from 30 November to 9 December.


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