The daughter of billionaire tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, Gigi Chao shot to fame last year when her father publicly offered $500 million to any man able to woo her—after she had already married her long-term girlfriend Sean Eav. She talks to Andrea Lo about her view on Dad’s globally buzzed-about call for suitors and her relationship with her parents, as well as her opinion on gay rights.
I never expected the incident to escalate to an international level.
After my father made the announcement, I didn’t have a reaction for about two weeks. I couldn’t really understand it. Then I suppose the first reaction really only came later, when I realized how lucky I was to have such a loving father.
I really appreciate the breadth and depth of my father’s socioeconomic shrewdness.
There have been so many marriage proposals [since Cecil Chao put forth the incentive]. But to be honest, I think I’m just so last year now. I’m completely a thing of the past. There are plenty of other rich and boyfriend-less Chinese heiresses out there who are receiving marriage proposals.
If you see someone male, romantic and good-looking, you can say to them, “Who are you proposing to? Gigi Chao? That’s so last year!”
My relationship with my parents has its ups and downs. I have really gotten closer to both my mom and dad, but it’s going to take them a while to accept my other half.
My partner Sean is upset about the public’s reaction. She tries to brush it off most of the time, but she’s quite upset.
For every relationship, it’s not really just a one-sided thing. For Sean, she is getting over a lot of emotional issues that she has with my parents.
It requires a lot of patience and commitment to make a relationship work—not just in romantic relationships, but within the family as well.
Dealing with conflicting opinions is just a reflection of how you deal with conflicting opinions within yourself.
Sometimes a good argument does the trick, sometimes just a polite discussion will do.
Contemporary society is such a place where nothing is ever quite as straightforward anymore, such as in relationships, politics and economics.
A sign of maturity for a lot of people is the ability to hold conflicting concepts and opinions within oneself—to be okay with an inherent thought, and then battling out of it, letting logic and time prove its worthiness and resolving it internally before it comes out.
Previously, I wanted my sexual orientation to be something personal, and I wanted it to be something that was really nobody else’s business but my own. But since this whole thing has played out, it has just opened my eyes to how many people out there are voiceless, and living in fear of themselves.
It’s just made me realize that being out is something important—not because I want people to notice me—because god knows it is difficult to be in the spotlight and be scrutinized by every Hong Kong person out there. But it’s really more about giving voice to the voiceless, and telling people that they’re not alone. I think it’s more of a social responsibility now, rather than a personal choice.
Our efforts, energies and intentions have to go towards education of the general public at large, rather than relying on the government to do anything to protect the interest of minorities.
It’s clearly not the government’s priority—they’ve got bigger balls to juggle. However, it is an important cause, and I think our efforts have to go into reaching out to those who are still very much being oppressed by the general unspoken-ness of the issue.
Every time I attend a party—and I don’t attend that many—there are socialites and high society people coming up to me, congratulating me on coming out, and thanking me and wishing that they had the courage to come out [themselves].
They also ask me to come out for them. [They ask me] if there is some way to slip it out. And I say, “No, there isn’t.” It’s a conscious decision and it’s an act of gay pride, but it’s not something that is for everyone.
Perhaps some people would prefer to stay in the closet for various reasons. I think it’s a very personal choice, and I respect it either way.
I have a message for a lot of the LGBT people who are in and out of the closet. For both gay and straight people, we all have a social responsibility to be responsible world citizens.
The thing I value the most in life is love.
Take an active interest within your community, share, and love your neighbor and enemy. It’s difficult to do, but let’s start with love your neighbor.