Gigi Chao

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

KNOWN IN­TER­NA­TION­ALLY AS A SPOKES­WOMAN FOR GAY RIGHTS, THE BUSI­NESS­WOMAN, HEIRESS AND PHI­LAN­THROPIST EX­PLAINS HOW HER GILDED BUT SOLI­TARY YOUTH SHAPED WHO SHE IS TO­DAY

Iwouldn’t say I had an un­usu­ally priv­i­leged child­hood, but I was aware that my fam­ily was spe­cial, and in some ways that was hard for me. There was a hunger in me to con­nect with other peo­ple so I could shed this mask of wealth that pre­vented me from mak­ing true friend­ships. But it was only when I left Hong Kong and went to board­ing school in the UK that I was fi­nally free to be judged for me, and not my last name.”

Chao’s re­lief at gain­ing the chance for a new life in an English school is il­lus­trated by one of the me­men­toes she of­fers—her first Bri­tish pass­port. “Liv­ing there gave me wan­der­lust, as it ex­posed me to a dif­fer­ent cul­ture. To­day, I would con­sider my­self a cit­i­zen of the world, as I have been based in so many coun­tries and I think that has shaped me hugely.”

Among her me­men­toes are sketches and draw­ings she made as a child. “I was quite a lonely, in­tro­spec­tive girl and I spent a lot of time search­ing within my­self to be the per­son I wanted to be, and that was mainly done through draw­ing and writ­ing.”

In re­sponse to her own ex­pe­ri­ence of child­hood, Chao founded the Faith in Love Foun­da­tion, which pro­motes art as a medium of ex­pres­sion and con­nec­tion among young peo­ple. “I think there is too much fo­cus on aca­demic learn­ing in Hong Kong. Art and cul­ture are what make us hu­man. We’re not money-mak­ing robots and we need to teach young peo­ple that.”

Along­side her char­ity work, Chao, who en­tered a civil part­ner­ship with her long-time girl­friend, Sean Eav, in 2012, is renowned for stand­ing up for gay rights. “I re­alise that I have be­come an in­for­mal spokesper­son for the cause, which I don’t dis­like as I think it’s all part and par­cel of who I am. It is dif­fi­cult to be a teenager in Hong Kong. And if I can help any­one out there by telling the truth, then that’s what I’ll do.”

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