The lesbian daughter of a flamboyant Hong Kong tycoon, who offered millions of dollars to any man who could woo her into marriage, appealed to her father in an open letter to accept her for who she is.
Cecil Chao made world headlines in 2012 when he tried to find a man who could successfully win his daughter, Gigi Chao, away from her partner by offering 500m Hong Kong dollars (€47m), an offer that a Malaysian newspaper who interviewed him last week said he has doubled.
In a letter to her father published yesterday by two Hong Kong newspapers, Gigi Chao said she knows it’s “difficult for you to understand, let alone accept” how she could be romantically attracted to a woman.
The tycoon made his offer after learning that his daughter had eloped with her partner of nine years, Sean Eav, to France, where they had a church blessing.
While Hong Kong decriminalised homosexuality in 1991, it does not legally recognise same-sex marriage.
Gigi Chao, 34, added that “it would mean the world to me if you could just not be so terrified of her, and treat her like a normal, dignified human being”.
She added: “I will always forgive you for thinking the way you do, because I know you think you are acting in my best interests.”
Sacha Baron Cohen, the actor behind Borat, is reportedly working on a movie inspired by the tycoon’s proposal, according to Hollywood trade publications.
Cecil Chao, who made his fortune as a Hong Kong property developer, has a reputation for being a playboy with a love for Rolls-Royces. He once claimed to have had 10,000 girlfriends but has never married.
Gigi Chao is one of his three children by three different women.
The South China Morning Post, one of the newspapers that published the letter, reported last week that since her father went public with his offer, she has received “strange” communications from 20,000 would-be suitors, and that most open by saying: “I want to be a billionaire!”
In the letter, which starts “Dear Daddy”, socialite Gigi wrote: “I know it’s difficult for you to understand how I could feel romantically attracted to a woman; I suppose I can’t really explain it either. It just happens, peacefully and gently.”
And she took responsibility for “misleading” him into thinking there might be other options for her.
“I’m sorry to mislead you to think I was only in a lesbian relationship because there was a shortage of good, suitable men in Hong Kong. There are plenty of good men. They are just not for me.”
In a plaintive message to her dad, she told him of her sadness that he was unable to share in the life she had made for herself.
“My regret is that you have no idea how happy I am with my life, and there are aspects of my life that you don’t share.”
Chao, who owns publicly-listed property developer Cheuk Nang, is a fixture of Hong Kong high society and regularly appears at public events with his latest young girlfriend.