After Hong Kong billionaire Cecil Chao offered a staggering $128 million “dowry” to any man that would marry his lesbian socialite daughter, Gigi Chao, she has responded in an open letter asking him to “just not be so terrified” of her female partner of nine years, Sean Eav, “and treat her like a normal, dignified human being.”
In 2012, the elder Chao offered $64 million to any man who convinced Gigi Chao to marry him; in early 2013, he doubled the offer to $128 million. According to Pink News, Mr. Chao told press that he hoped to “coax her towards a husband, children and a more traditional family structure for when she eventually inherits the Cheuk Nang property empire.” He also expressed the view that at thirty-three, his daughter was “too young” to be so certain she’s gay.
In addition to her having been with Eav for nearly a decade, the two women married in a French civil ceremony in 2012—yet in a January 2014 interview with Malaysian newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau, Mr. Chao still claimed his daughter was single and that it wasn’t “too late” for her.
A week after the $128 million offer was made, Gigi Chao published her letter to her father in China’s South Morning Post; the letter reads in part:
I thought the timing was right for us to have a candid conversation…
As your daughter, I would want nothing more than to make you happy. But in terms of relationships, your expectations of me and the reality of who I am, are not coherent.
I am responsible for some of this misplaced expectation, because I must have misled you to hope there were other options for me. You know I’ve had male lovers in the past, and I’ve had happy, albeit short-lived, relationships. I found myself temporarily happy, buoyed by the freshness, the attention, the interest, of someone physically stronger than myself.
But it was always short-lived, as I quickly lost patience, and felt an indescribable discomfort in their presence. It usually made me frustrated, and I would yearn for my freedom again. I’ve broken a few hearts, hearts of good, honest and loving men, and I’m sorry that it had to be so.
But with Sean, a woman, somehow it was different. I am comfortable and satisfied with my life and completely at ease with her. 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 after so many years, we still love each other very much.
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. I suppose we don’t need each other’s approval for our romantic relationships, and I am sure your relationships are really fantastic too.
However, I do love my partner Sean, who does a good job of looking after me, ensuring I am fed, bathed and warm enough every day, and generally cheering me up to be a happy, jolly girl. She is a large part of my life, and I am a better person because of her.
Now, I’m not asking you to be best of friends; however, 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.
I understand it is difficult for you to understand, let alone accept this truth.
I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out who I am, what is important in my life, who I love and how best to live life, as an expression of all these questions. I am proud of my life, and I would not choose to live it any other way (except also figuring out how to be gentler on the planet).
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.
Wishing you happiness…
Your daughter, Gigi.
In an interview with the Morning Post, she said, “I don’t think my dad’s offering of any amount of money would be able to attract a man I would find attractive.”
Gigi Chao leads a busy life, working as the executive director at the Cheuk Nang property development company owned by her father; she is also a founder of the anti-poverty Faith in Love Foundation and the gay rights group Big Love Alliance. She added, “I understand that he loves me, it’s just he’s from another time and it’s difficult for him to understand the plight of the LGBT [community]. At the office it’s business as usual. At family gatherings we hug and dance. And we just agree to disagree on what marriage is and family is.”