Hong Kong Business Tycoon Offers $65 Million to Make His Gay-Married Daughter Straight

This week in news to hide your face in your hands about, one of Hong Kong’s richest businessmen has publicly offered to give $65 million to any man with the power to win the heart of his lady-loving daughter.

Gigi Chao, the 33-year-old daughter of business tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, married her girlfriend of seven years in Paris earlier this year. But her father claims that reports of the marriage are “false,” and has offered the sizable bounty in response to the news. Though denying he would actually force his daughter to marry a man, Mr. Chao has put a price on his own heterosexism — and what a price it is!

Gigi Chao (right) and wife Sean Eav (left)

Hiding behind the age old I just want my precious daughter to be happy parenting trope, Mr. Chao told the South China Morning Post, “I don’t mind whether he is rich or poor. The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted.” Oh, and that he’s a he. As added incentive, he said, “Gigi is a very good woman with both talents and looks. She is devoted to her parents, is generous and does volunteer work.”

Despite the fact that her father is trying bribe men into wooing her away from her (hot) wife, Chao has been speaking highly of her father, telling the Associated Press, “I’m actually on very, very loving terms with my father. We speak on a daily basis. He just has a very interesting way of expressing his fatherly love.” I guess she really is “generous and kind-hearted.”

And what’s more, Chao seems to really, truly get where her father is coming from: “It’s not that he can’t accept me,” she said. “It’s that he can’t accept how society would view me and the status that it would incur. Marriage is still a form of social status. I do understand him. I understand why he’s doing this.” Since the marriage bounty offer, she has received upwards of 1,500 marriage proposals and nude photos of hopeful singles. I wonder how her wife feels about that.

Though she speaks highly of her father, Mr. Chao doesn’t seem to exactly have the same heart of gold that she does. Marriage bounty aside, he’s infamous in Hong Kong for once boasting that he has slept with over 10,000 women (not to slut-shame or anything). And ironically, up until now he has shunned traditional marriage. Isn’t interesting how some people base political views on convenience?

Cecil Chao Sze-tsung

Before shacking up with her wife, Chao had dated both men and women, and though she was very open with her family about her relationships, she reported that her mother literally banged her head against a wall when learning of her adolescent relationship with another girl. And Chao has said that Hong Kong in general is not very accepting of the queer community, though visibility has increased in recent years. I have a lot of respect for Chao, because if I were her, I would be totally furious (maybe that’s the difference between 23 and 33?). The important thing is that Chao doesn’t seem to be letting anyone put a price on her love – which is good, because it would be a tragedy to lose something that seems as good as this relationship.


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gabriellekorn

Gabrielle Korn used to be a contributing editor at Autostraddle. These days, she's the author of "Everybody (Else) Is Perfect," a journalist, digital media expert, and the former editor-in-chief of Nylon Media, an international lifestyle publication focused on emerging culture. Under Gabrielle's editorial leadership, Nylon became a fully digital brand with an ever-growing audience and original, politically-driven, thought-provoking beauty, fashion, music, and entertainment content. She graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2011 with a concentration in feminist/queer theory and writing. She lives in Brooklyn.

Gabrielle has written 1 article for us.

54 Comments

  1. Instead of having All the Anger, which is what this news story sometimes makes me feel, and then All the Feelings because my father would never do this because he is so wonderful, I instead will focus on the following:

    OMGz, look what a cute couple they are! For serious, who could ever want to break these two up?!

  2. When I read this the other day in HuffPost, I read his quote about “Gigi is a very good woman with both talents and looks. She is devoted to her parents, is generous and does volunteer work” as his dismissal of her being queer.

    This is the biggest #headdesk ever.

  3. I think with the help of a false moustache I can come up with a solution in which everybody wins.

    In all seriousness though, I think she’s handling this with so much class and dignity. While I wouldn’t have been so rational, laughing him off as a bizarre eccentric is probably the best way to kill the story and deflect all the attention. Also she and her partner are adorable.

  4. “…he’s infamous in Hong Kong for once boasting that he has slept with over 10,000 women (not to slut-shame or anything). And ironically, up until now he has shunned traditional marriage. Isn’t interesting how some people base political views on convenience?”

    THIS.

    P.S. That last photo…the coupleness! The dogs! The tiny clothing! ::headexplode::

  5. When Chao was asked by the BBC “You do consider yourself married?”, her reply was the kind of thing that I would consider crushing if I was her partner:

    “I don’t think I’m at a privilege to give you a straight answer on that one, Lucy, just because my father’s fervently denied this statement and it would be inappropriate for me to just outright contradict him.”

    (The 4 min. interview with Chao is here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19733003
    Scroll down for the radio segment.)

    She and Sean make a cute couple, but based on this interview, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Chao walking down the aisle with a man sometime soon. Filial piety is a powerful thing, and money is even more so.

    There aren’t many people who would have the strength to stand up against that.

    • I interpreted that differently – from what I know of Chinese/Hong Kong culture, publicly denouncing your family is a big, big deal. So I saw this more as a way that she could avoid shaming her father but also keep herself from denying her own relationship.

      It’s a sucky thing to have to say, but I think a lot of us are looking at this through a Western lens.

      • We are looking at this through a Western lens, but the entire problem with this is Western: we expect that as women and as queers we have the right to love whom we choose and be respected for that. It isn’t like that in other cultures, so any insult we feel when looking at a case like this is purely our own problem.

        My partner is Chinese and in the closet, and we accept that it must be this way to maintain harmony in her family. She politely turns down regular offers to find her a husband, to her parents I will always be a “roommate”, and they will never visit our home because we don’t want them to see that there’s only one bed.

        Outside the West, queer relationships are a luxury. Chao’s case is spectacular for the amount of money involved, but not the sentiment. Blowing your parents kisses from inside the closet is the norm in most of the world; we are the strange exception.

      • @ Dina
        Yes, I think a lot of us are looking through a western lens, but is that automatically a bad thing? When we’re looking at women being oppressed and abused in other countries, we should let it go because their culture says doing that sort of thing is no big deal?

        I think it’s possible to define oppression and abuse in universal terms, but maybe I’m wrong about that. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

          • Yes, I see what you’re saying. Good point.

            I’m just interested in the idea in general of where the line is between saying “I don’t understand your culture, but that’s my problem.” and “I don’t care what your mythology or cultural history is, as a human this is not acceptable treatment for any of my sisters on this planet.” It’s a very complex subject for me.

          • I can respect that!

            I think it’s useful to look at the cultural motivations behind other people’s actions. Like, for me it’s (relatively) easy to be out – my parents and most of my family accepts me, and those that don’t aren’t people I want in my life anyway. But when, say, I have a friend who chooses not to be out to her parents because her family is from a different culture and they wouldn’t take it well, I can’t really expect her to work in the same framework. I can criticize the hell out of the cultural factors that motivate her decisions (albeit carefully, due to my own privilege and whatnot) but her actions are her own and are based on something I have no experience with.

            I hope I’m making sense – I totally agree, this is such a complicated topic and it’s very hard to talk about!

          • I’m from Hong Kong. And filial piety is really something that is as ingrained into us. I would say, disowning your father or bashing him in public, is like setting kittens on fire.

            So I personally have a lot of respect for her when she said she wouldn’t contradict him. But, instead, the way i see it, she is asking for readers to read between the lines.

            But well, if i were in her shoes, i would actually… admit that i am married. And then run home to talk to my dad.

            I think, she went to the extent of marriage. If she’d be so easily swayed, she would be content with staying in just a relationship. She’s dealing with the pressure with a lot of class!

  6. I’m just worried that for a $65 million payout, some asshole might try to coercively persuade her into marrying him. Some people are very skilled at psychological manipulation and those people often have very few scruples.

  7. reminds me of my parents, who after 7 years still think my lesbianism is a phase and truly believe that when i meet the right man “my phase” will be over. seriously though, how disrespectful can this guy be? not only is he disregarding her sexuality and her basic autonomy as an adult, he’s diminishing the validity of her relationship and the importance of her marriage. and to top it off he’s pubically humiliating her by basically trying to bribe a guy to marry her. i would NEVER talk to him again if he was my father.

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  9. my parents are from hong kong and the statements of everyone involved are so typical that basically to me this is news only because of the money and media involved. my parents say similar things to mr chao; if forced to i would probably be saying similar things to ms chao, to be honest. i truly get where my parents are coming from, just as she does. mr chao is a hypocrite, to be sure, but the old school mainstream hk sentiments are the same. essentially the culture maintains a hierarchy of generations regardless of adulthood and there isn’t much you can do about it.

  10. She’s wonderful and I am glad she can see some good in the situation, since she seems to have interpreted it as fatherly love even if it is a shitty way of expressing it. I think she said she thought it was sort of funny, and I don’t get the impression she’ll be swayed by any of her suitors.

  11. Just want to clarify something as a Hong Kong native. For the record, people in Hong Kong aren’t as homophobic as this piece of news present us to be. Even old people at Gigi’s dad age.

    My cousin is gay. He came out to his mother. His mother tried to talk him out of it. But when it didn’t work, she accepted it. His mother never spoke about it to the rest in the family. But we all know of course. I am sure this is story very familiar to every gay kid in Hong Kong. And i have many friends who are in close relationships with their partners’ families. Gigi’s dad is just a bit more… quirky (asshole-quirky).

    Stanley Ho (Another wealthy Hong Kong/Macau business type) has two daughters who are gay too. Well, he is very old. And he has a dozen of kids. But it seems the family is taking it lightly.

    Actually it is, in a strange way, good to have this news become headlines elsewhere. I think it has brought the topic of LGBT rights in Hong Kong back to the table again.

    • i’m sorry k, we all agree Cecil Chao is a uniquely crazy mofo, but don’t make excuses for hong kong. that almost sounds like status quo mentality.

      the place has a very closeted scene. i remember the 2011 pride parade was really embarrassing. lgbt hong kongers, specifically, are frustratingly politically apathetic.

      but you are right that Gigi Chao being forcibly outed has brought more attention to the issue of lgbt rights in this SAR. even more so than Raymond Chan, Hong Kong’s first openly gay politician, coming out in early September.

      Now Gigi’s involved with Big Love Alliance. As a result, we get to see more puppy photos like this:

      Gigi told the South China Morning Post, “If the government can provide a safer environment for LGBT people with anti-discrimination legislation, fewer people would have to live a double life. It would be the beginning of an open society.”
      http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1211697/how-hk500m-husband-hunt-led-new-gigi-chao

      And don’t forget to check out that little poll on the right-hand column, the one that asks readers, “Do you agree with now LGBT rights activist Gigi Chao that Hong Kong is “horrible” at accepting diversity?”

  12. Gigi is gorgeous, this is true. But upon seeing the photo of her father my immediate reaction was that he looks like Psy might look thirty years from now.

    That’s all I’m going to say. I’m not going to say anything about the facepalm-inducing rest of the article, because really, what could I say that hasn’t already been said?

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