"I am a 'tongzhi'!" Denise Ho Wan-Si told the crowd at Hong Kong's LGBT pride parade on Saturday. Tongzhi means comrade in Cantonese and is a widely used term in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China to mean gay.
She is the first mainstream female singer in Hong Kong to have come out, following in fellow pop singer Anthony Wong's footsteps last year.
The 35-year-old singer explained her decision to come out despite her belief that her sexual orientation should be a private matter.
"For many years, when I faced questions from the media, I always felt that sexual orientation is a personal matter, that there is no need to label yourself or tell the public. But in 2012 when one would expect more acceptance and progress (in terms of gay equality), I find that there is still discrimination and prejudice. I feel that silence is no longer an option," she said to great applause. She acknowledged that coming out can be a diffcult decision for many as one may face discrimination at work, with friends and at home.
"As a celebrity, I think I have an obligation, a duty to stand forward for the sake of love and equality." She further acknowledged that should have come out years ago but did not have the right opportunity. She now hopes to use her popularity to help push for equal rights for the gay community.
Speaking to the media after her speech, she added, “We don’t know how inclusive and progressive society is, so public figures like us to have to test the waters.”
From left to right: Anthony Wong, legislator Cyd Ho and Densie Ho.
Photos: Prism at PrideLab (Facebook page)
According to RTHK, organisers estimated about 4,000 people took part in the parade while police put the number at about 2,500. There were calls to end work-place discrimination and for the legalisation of gay marriage.
The parade was led by Ho, singer Anthony Wong, and openly gay legislator Raymond Chan.