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Gigi Chao
Berton Chang

Catching up with Gigi Chao ahead of her TEDxTinHauWomen talk

We caught up with Hong Kong socialite and gay rights activist ahead of her talk at this year's groundbreaking event

Written by
Sarah Moran

Gigi Chao is no stranger to the spotlight, not least since her father Cecil publicly announced an astronomical dowry to the man who would marry his leasbian daughter back in 2012. Since then, Gigi has become something of a champion of gay rights in our city, and we were lucky enough to catch up with the woman herself ahead of her eagerly anticipated talk at TEDx, to talk about her life and LGBTQ+ issues that Hong Kong faces. 

When did you officially come out to your parents?

I try to come out to them every time I see them. I say this because coming out is a continuous work in progress and because, it seems to work better than an earth-shattering, single and ultimate come out moment. Even for people who are questioning, bisexual, or as yet unsure, it's more manageable if parents know early and get educated on the process.

You were thrust into the spotlight when your father offered millions in dowry to any man who will marry you, was that something you ever saw coming? How did you feel at that time? 

It was a complicated issue at the time, for reasons which I shall talk about in my TEDxTinHauWomen talk. 

How many people did you get proposing to you at that time? 

They’re still sending stuff in, seven years after the news. I’ve lost count after 17,000 to be honest.

Since writing that open letter to your Dad in SCMP, where you asked him to accept that you're a lesbian, happily-married, has your relationship with him changed in any way? Has he come to be more accepting? 

He is accepting now. I am not married, and it is what I am fighting for now. That is, the right to get married officially and legally. 

How would you encourage anyone who's going through something similar – whose parents won't accept that they're gay / lesbian? 

I will go through in greater detail in my talk, but the position of parents has always been a delicate one — one that takes much generosity of spirit and patience. At the same time, it has been shown by many studies, that discrimination of LGBTI by parents is one of the most hurtful experiences quite detrimental to one’s sense of dignity. Therefore, strength and support from allies is so important.

How do you think Hong Kong as a city will benefit from equal marriage rights?   

Essentially, an equal and free society enables us to realise our aspirations as intelligent humans that we are — something I’ll speak more about in my talk!

How can we show our support?  

The best way to show support is to adopt an OLIVE approach: be Open, be Listening, make Inquiries to stand up to bullying, be Visible and Encourage dialogue on opinions on marriage equality. 

What's the biggest message you want to bring across in your TEDxTinHauWomen talk?  

That acceptance is urgent, and the fate of our young people depends on it.

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