The lesbian daughter of a flamboyant Hong Kong tycoon who publicly offered millions of pounds to any man who could woo her into marriage has appealed to her father through an open letter to accept her for who she is.
Cecil Chao, 77, 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 500 million Hong Kong dollars (about £38 million), an offer that a Malaysian newspaper who interviewed him last week said he has doubled.
In a letter to her father published by two Hong Kong newspapers, Gigi Chao, 34, said she knows it is “difficult for you to understand, let alone accept” how she could be romantically attracted to a woman, but asks he treat her partner “like a normal human being”.
The tycoon made his offer after learning that his daughter had eloped with her partner, 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.
Beginning the lengthy and heartfelt letter with “Dear Daddy”, Gigi writes: “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 am proud of my life, and I would not choose to live it any other way … I’m sorry I misled 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.”
Gigi said she hopes the letter will clear up some “misunderstandings”, and told the South China Morning Post her father is awkward around Eav when they are in the same company.
She said: “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 and Ali G, is reportedly working on a film inspired by the tycoon’s proposal.
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” phone calls from would-be suitors, and that most open by saying: “I want to be a billionaire!”
Gigi said she hoped the letter would clarify misunderstandings about her father.
“He just has a special sense of humour. He wasn’t malicious when he made the offer,” she said.
“Daddy won’t see the comments online saying he is crazy, but as his daughter, I feel I should stand up for him.”
She attributes their clash of views on her relationship to a “generation gap”.
“We are not enemies and I cherish very much our time together,” she said.
“We still love each other.”