Charice Is Gay: Filipina Actress and Singer Comes Out, It’s A Big Deal

If you thought you sensed sexual tension in this video — good eye!

Yup, Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco, better known as Charicecame out yesterday on “The Buzz,” a Filipino television show hosted by Boy Abunda, by asserting “Opo, tomboy po ako.” Charice added that answering that question has enabled her to “feel free.”

She had other feelings, too, sadder ones, because, as Boy pointed out (according to a translation of the interview) “in our culture this is not the normal and usual way and most of the time remains hidden so that the public and fans stay happy.” So Charice also took time to apologize to her mother and brother and ask forgiveness of fans who feel “disappointed” by her coming out:

I chose to do it here because I owe it to the Filipino people. I felt that they should be the ones to know what I am and who I am. Yes, I’m a tomboy. I don’t know why that’s a problem? Because for me, it’s not a problem. Now I want to ask forgiveness to those who don’t understand, to those who can’t accept me. I’m sorry. I can understand. For those who will accept and can accept me, thank you very much. And for what I have done I just want to say that I feel that a heavy weight has been lifted from me now (tears up voice slightly breaks). That I can leave the house without hiding anything, nor putting anyone down because I’m not hiding anything. Sorry Mommy, Carl…but this is me. I’m proud of myself, I love myself.  That is why I’ve done this. To my fans, I know a lot of you are disappointed, some of you will probably leave me. Sorry. You know I’m a sincere person. From the bottom of my heart, sorry. I understand.

Boy commended her, saying, “you chose to tell the truth because it was the right thing to do” and asking, “do you hope one day that you could work overseas in a world, in an industry, that won’t look at gender but talent?”  Charice answered:

I believe that someday, it will come. It’s just difficult at the moment. I believe that someday, we will come out and work as equals. That’s why sometimes they say: Are you gay? (And I answer) what, are you straight? It’s all the same.

charice-via-abs

According to our Special Chaster Correspondents on Facebook, the majority of the singer’s young fanbase is supportive of Charice. Also, this is a big deal.

cheesa tweeted her support of charice today

cheesa tweeted her support of charice today

Charice said that her mother, Racquel, was still struggling to understand the situation. Racquel raised Charice on her own (Charice’s father left the family when Charice was young, and was murdered in 2011), and as a kid Charice started entering television singing competitions to help support her family, eventually participating in nearly 100 contests. In 2005, she made it to the final rounds of Little Big Star, a talent show in the Philippines similar to American Idol, but her big debut actually came via YouTube about two years later when Dave Dueñas‘ posting of Charice’s performance videos racked up over 15 million hits, making her an official Internet Sensation.

From there things basically took off — she made a demo with Ten Songs/Productions in Sweden, appeared on South Korean talent show Star King and eventually made her first trip to the United States in December 2007 to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. 

Her debut album, Charice, was released in May 2008 and would eventually go platinum in The Philippines. Oprah Winfrey featured Charice in her “World’s Most Talented Kids” episode which led to Charice working with music producer David Foster, which led to her appearing on Hitman: David Foster and Friends, which became a thing on PBS, apparently, and also at some point Oprah called Charice “the most talented girl in the world.”

4 02 2008 B Show - Oprah Presents The Worlds Smartest Kids

Charice performed at Andrea Bocelli‘s birthday concert and performed with Celene Dion and by 2009 was performing at US presidential pre-inaugural events and pre-Oscar award events and at major league baseball opening games. (In 2010, she’d sing the Philippine National Anthem at the inauguration of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.)

She released her second, 22-track album, My Inspiration, in May 2009, which included a duet with her Mom, which is adorable. The album went platinum in The Philippines and her first single debuted high on U.S. and Canadian Billboard charts. Her international debut album Charice, released May 2010, reached #8 on the Billboard charts and she popped up all over the U.S., like that time she was on Oprah with Justin Bieber and that time she played Sunshine Corazon in Season Two of Glee.

sunshine

Meanwhile her star considered ascending in The Philippines and Asia, with extended tours and television appearances throughout 2011 and 2012.

infinity-tour

In March 2012, when Charice got a new haircut and started dressing in a more boyish style, moderate press backlash ensued, but the press’s relationship with Charice has always been complicated due to her international success. Also, despite a gay-friendly reputation, The Catholic Church’s presence is strongly felt in The Philippines, which obvs influences how a lot of people feel about alternative lifestyle haircuts.

Charice-KCA-2012

Charice insisted, “I know some people think that this is very rebellious but it’s not. It’s just me evolving,” likening her “edgy” and “rock” style to just being more Avril Lavigne or Rihanna than Selena Gomez. So there. Rumors swirled and according to our Chaster Fandom Correspondent, the Chaster fandom divided somewhat, often along generational lines, between those who were supportive of Charice regardless and those who dismissed the rumors.

charice-is-super-cute

do you want a ticket, the show is called “i’m really cute”

Which brings us to this week, when after a reclusive period, Charice sat down with The Buzz and told all. She also said that she’s dated lots of girls, duh, but that she can’t say who, and also hinted strongly that she’s in a relationship with Alyssa Quijano of X-Factor Philippines. This would make them The Cutest Couple Of All Time.

alyssa

There’s been heaps of support for Charice on twitterCheesa, the singer with whom Claire recorded “I’m Not Perfect,” tweeted her support today:

Lea Salonga tweeted her support as well:

There have been a lot of monumental comings out lately, but this one seems particularly huge. Our Special Chaster Fandom Correspondent pointed out that “the exact words [Charice] chose when she admitted that she’s gay are “Tomboy ako.” Here, “tomboy” is non-derogatory. Often, gay women who are in a way accepted are butch lesbians. Us femme lesbians, they see as bi or in a phase.” She added that out lesbian celebrities are few and far between — there’s Monique Wilson, who now lives in the US, and Aiza Seguerra, a child star who came out in 2007 and is now a singer-songwriter and actress. And now there’s Charice!

aiza-seguerra

Aiza Seguerra

At the end of the interview, Boy asked Charice for the “most important lesson [she's] learned.”:

Charice: To Mommy and Carl… I wish I were more open, more honest because the most important (thing) in the relationship between parents and their kids is to be open to one another, whatever the reaction of the other will be. To all young people my age, people undergoing the same thing – be true to yourself. We know in ourselves who we are. Life is too short to play games. Just be free.

Boy: Again, for your fans.

Charice: Chasters, this is it! New chapter. Welcome, welcome to my crazy life. Enjoy the ride.

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Riese is the 32-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

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49 Comments

  1. Thumb up 11

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    THIS IS SO AWESOME! What she did seems incredibly brave to me, and I have a lot of admiration for her. Plus… and I hope I can phrase this right… I feel like the concept of “divas” has long belonged to straight women and gay men, and despite the very gay positive positions that many divas take, that space seems like one that queer women have yet been unable to really succeed in (see also: the apparent lack of queer actresses and characters in musicals on Broadway). I think she could be poised to change this, and that’s great because I’ve always felt a little lonely as a queer woman who loves Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand and any lady with a big voice, singing what is stereotypically thought by narrow-minded people to be music that gay men listen to.

    I wish her the best and I’m really interested to see what affect this has on her career, and hopefully it’s a good one because us gay ladies commit to queer lady celebs and we commit hard, so I’m sure she won over at least some fans with this coming out.

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      As a fellow queer diva-loving, Celine Dion fan I agree 100%. I hope that Charice continues to make amazing music. I’m so happy that she is being true to herself. I just get this really genuine impression of her, with her voice and personality. She seems like a really awesome person.

      Here’s a great video from her start with Celine. What an amazing voice! http://youtu.be/FnhPBH48CWo

      Go Charice!!!

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        Well hello my dear fellow queer diva-lovers. Zero shame to give, yes to Celine and Charice and all the amazing ladies who sing big high notes! I have a few of Celine’s songs on my phone and I play them and sing them esp in the shower. Haha! And to echo your sentiments, I also hope she continue in making music and singing her heart out and to continue to amaze us fans. Maybe Glee can sign her up again? LOL ^_^

        (Obvs I have a lot of feelings about this. Thank goodness for AS as safe space. I can’t easily air these feeeeliiings on fb [because/although] I’m relatively out. Thank you, fellow Straddlers for the patience. *hugs*)

  2. Thumb up 6

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    dammmn I’m so glad to have her on our side. welcome

    and that video of sunshine corazon. it will never be the same with this new piece of information. the sexual tension, I see it.

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    I’m pretty sure I was screaming in excitement/shock the other night when my Chaster friend told me that the interview was about to air in the Philippines. This is a big deal and is giving me a lot of feelings for reasons <3 <3 <3

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    I know it’s a long shot but hopefully Charice would be a representative and help pave the way in raising awareness of LGBTQ presence and rights and issues, here in our humble homeland, The Philippines.
    I would love to think that a parent who continually prays at night that his or her daughter isn’t really gay or a 16 year old pondering on running away watched the brave interview of Charice and realized that unconditional love should prevail, love of a parent to a child, the love of a sibling to another, and the love of friends for their peer. This is the best case scenario and yes I know that it’s really a long shot, but as they say, A journey to a thousand miles begin with a single step. Aiza S. and Monique W. started that journey. Charice is following suit, heck, she did it with a bang!
    The PI is still way behind — Pride March would still prolly look like a rally instead of a celebration, The Ladlad partylist would still have a hard time getting support for their projects, BUT, I’m not losing hope. I wish and pray that someday, I can walk around my neighborhood hand in hand with my lovely partner without giving a fuck on harsh comments from bashers. Slowly but surely, Pilipinas, slowly but surely.

  5. Thumb up 3

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    I thought I saw sexual tension there before – but that might be because I tend to think ~everyone is queer. My fiancée keeps reminding me that this is not the case.

    I blame it on being surrounded by so many queers – at one point I had a class where 4/13 of us were queer and that wasn’t all the kids I knew at school (my ‘group’ got a reputation for being queer so questioning kids often came to talk to us).

  6. Thumb up 4

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    Now her getting all happy when Rachel started singing with her makes total sense!

    no but really, that is incredibly brave of her in the Asia society especially when you live in the spotlight. Bravo to Charice

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      Incredibly brave esp that she has a career and is still young, just turned 21 a week or so prior to the interview. There have been rumors about some local celebs – both men and women – who are gay but nobody made a statement yet because of, I suppose, their careers, and privacy.

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        Aiza was the cutest and most adorbs child actress of her time and successfully remained being adorbs as an adult playing mature roles. I enjoy watching her doing movies / TV series of any genre – she’s undoubtedly talented. Her singing voice, too, ugh, when she plays that guitar, you can just feel it.

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    Hearing this makes me so happy! It feels great to be represented by someone soooo wonderful and beautiful. You can tell she has so much love and respect for her parents. That’s really important. Asian kids are always afraid of letting their parents down. I just hope that her parents can see how much she loves them and that she hasn’t changed into someone else by coming out. Way to go, Charice.

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    When she was “straight” she looked really feminine but when she started to come out, she looks kinda like a boy now?
    I wish she looked like she used to. i had a huge crush on her then!
    I think it would be great if more feminine lesbians came out!

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    I know that this is completely beside the point but the autotune in the video is ridiculous! (I have not watched glee in ages but when I did watch it I must have learnt how to ignore it because wow)

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