While many cities in China promote a thriving gay nightlife and a handful of Chinese celebrities have openly stated their gay stance, it can be challenging to belong to the LGBTQ+ community in China today. A 2020 study found that China contains the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population on the planet. Even though homosexuality is decriminalized in China, it’s becoming more difficult to live as a gay person in a country that doesn’t prioritize gay rights.
It’s likely that there are more gay Chinese celebrities who don’t feel able to live openly gay in the current culture, so it’s difficult to speculate which politicians, influencers, or stars may or may not identify as gay. Despite this, over a dozen male, female, and transgender Chinese celebrities have gone public about their same-sex orientation and relationships.
Discover these 15 influential Chinese celebrities who identify as gay.
1. Leslie Chung
If you’re familiar with Cantopop, then you’ve probably heard about Leslie Chung. This gay icon is considered the first Chinese celebrity to break LBGTQ+ barriers when he came out as gay in the 1980s before the Chinese government decriminalized same-sex relationships.
While Chung’s openness about his sexuality could have derailed his music career, his controversial and charismatic persona enabled him to stay true to himself and carve out a famous, 26-year-long career during Cantopop’s Golden Age.
As one of the very first male celebrities to come out as gay in Hong Kong, Chung paved the way for more relaxed attitudes and future gay rights movements.
2. Chet Lam
This indie folk singer and songwriter has been professionally performing in commercial songs and TV dramas since age 10. Born in Hong Kong in 1976, Chet Lam has a degree in Japanese Business. Over the years, he has released over 200 songs in the music industry in China.
He has also composed multiple pop hits for singers such as Sammi Cheng, Elva Hsiao, Eason Chan, and Stefanie Sun.
By 2005, Lam came out as gay during an interview with a Hong Kong newspaper. Later, Lam basically called himself the “Elton John” of Hong Kong.
3. Kevin Tsai
Tsai is a writer, actor, TV host, and director who co-hosted a famous comedy program for TV. He is also open about his gay orientation and tries to bring awareness about the LGBTQ+ community in Taiwan.
Many people who are struggling with their sexuality look up to him as a gay icon who helps to normalize the gay lifestyle.
4. Susanna Kwan
If you’ve watched any Cantonese dramas on Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), then you’re probably familiar with Susanna Kwan. She’s one of the most famous actors on TBV where she plays many significant roles.
Born in 1958, Kwan launched her career at age 14 and reached Hong Kong A-list singer status during the 1970s-1980s. She lived and worked in Canada from 1990-2006, but later went back to Hong Kong to star on TVB singing programs and TV dramas.
While Kwan wed Michael Lai in 1982, she divorced him later, and remains in a relationship with her female partner, Willy Chow, since 2007. In one interview, Susanna stated that she is very happy with her girlfriend and doesn’t fear public opinion about her lifestyle choices.
5. Anthony Wong
Alternative singer, producer, and composer Anthony Wong came out in 2012 at a Hong Kong Coliseum concert by spelling out his sexual orientation as “G-A-Y” to prevent further speculation about his lifestyle.
Born in Hong Kong in 1962, Wong jump started his career as a radio DJ in 1984. After that, he started the Tat Ming Pair group with a Chinese guitarist and composer named Tats Lau Yi Tat. During the 1990s, Wong’s duo produced over 15 albums and snagged multiple awards in Hong Kong and throughout the country.
Once the duo disbanded, Wong turned into a solo singer and later gained fame as a producer and founder of the People Mountain People Sea music production company. His company has since published songs for many famous Chinese pop artists. Since then, Wong has stayed active in the music industry and also campaigns for non-discrimination against gay people.
6. Gigi Chao
Besides being the daughter of Hong Kong-based Chinese billionaire Cecil Chao, Gigi Chao is known for her LGBTQ+ activism in Hong Kong.
Chao holds a degree in architecture from the University of Manchester and has been married to her wife, Sean, since 2012.
Her father famously refused to accept her lesbian orientation and offered an initial $65 million to any man who could convince Chao to marry him. He later upped his offer to a whopping $180 million. Despite the pressure, Chao remained firm in her sexual identity and stated that she felt “comfortable” and “satisfied” living life with her female partner.
7. Jin Xing
As a young child, Chinese actress, TV host, and dancer Jin Xing longed to get struck by lightning so she could somehow transform into a girl. She got her wish when she had sex reassignment surgery in 1995. Since then, the celebrity has married a man, adopted three children, and lives happily with them in Shanghai.
Since then, she has been open about her gay/transgender lifestyle while continuing to advance her career.
Just like Jin Xing, there are many LGBTQ+ celebrities in China, but the political and cultural atmosphere has not made it easy to come out publicly at this time.
8. Denise Ho
This Chinese celebrity has been outspoken about her lesbian orientation since her participation in the “Dare to Love” Hong Kong Pride Parade in 2012. Born in 1977, Denise Ho is a Cantopop singer based in Hong Kong. After moving to Montreal, Quebec at an early age, Ho then studied at Canada’s Université du Québec.
The singer launched her career in 1996 after winning Hong Kong’s 15th New Talent Singing Awards. This landed Ho her first recording contract with Capital Artists Limited. By 2012, Ho came out publicly at the Hong Kong Pride Parade to declare to 4,000 marchers her lesbian sexual orientation.
9. Stanley Kwan
Born in 1957 in Hong Kong, Stanley Kwan is one of the top film producers and directors in China today. After doing a mass communications degree at Hong Kong Baptist College, Kwan started a job at TVB where his first movie, Women, became a box-office hit. His film, Hold You Tight, landed two awards, the Teddy Award and the Alfred Bauer prize at the48th Berlin International Film Festival in 1998.
Kwan emerged as gay in 1996 when he produced a documentary about Chinese language films that looked at sexuality and gender roles. He has continued to win Best Director awards while maintaining a relationship with his partner, William, since 1989.
Danlan is the professional name for a popular Chinese influencer who is both an ex-cop and a gay man. At first, he kept his identity secret, but after 2011, he stepped back from his career in law enforcement to become a full-time influencer and entrepreneur.
Danlan eventually started a tech company called BlueCity with a dating app called Blued. Today, the app has over 63 million global users that are attracted via paid memberships, ads, and live stream features.
11. Yuhua Hamasaki
Yuhua Hamasaki is Yuhua Ou’s stage name. The Chinese-born American actor, singer, and reality TV personality burst into international popularity with RuPaul’s Drag Race’s season 10. Born in Guangzhou in 1990, Yuhua, who identifies by the pronoun “they”, earned a degree in business management from Pace University. They also started doing drag in the club scene in New York City.
Yuhua Hamasaki was first featured as an LGBTQ+ drag queen in a Katy Perry performance for Saturday Night Live in 2017. They also started designing outfits for drag races and won many pageant titles that included Mis Stonewall, Miss Asia NYC, Miss Fire Island, and Miss Fire Island All Stars. They even created a sponge dress for a 2018 episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Yuhua has also gained fame for a self-published YouTube series called Bootleg Fashion Photo RuView and has starred in other internet shows and even her own web series before becoming one of the gay queens featured on New York Magazine’s cover in 2019.
12. Kevin Tsai
Born in 1962, Kevin Tsai is an ethnic Chinese television host and writer working in Taiwan. After obtaining a master’s degree in TV production from the School of Theater, Film, and Television at UCLA, Tsai developed a humorous personality as he co-hosted a comedy talk show TV program with Dee Hsu called “Kangxi Lai Le”.
During his career, Tsai has authored 15 books. Many of them are best-sellers, including Wandering in LA, Happy Diary, The Boys Taught Me to Do, and Kevin Tsai’s Way of Speaking.
In November 2001 a program hosted by Li Ao, Tsai acknowledged his gay identity but brought awareness to the fact that the LGBTQ+ movements in Taiwan still needed more work for members to feel accepted and safe to come out. Currently, Tsai has a partner named George who he’s been in a relationship with for over a decade.
13. Wei Chensheng
More than 200 years before people in China gained some gay rights, Wei Chensheng gained a reputation as a gay man during the Qing Dynasty period in the 18th century.
Also known as Wei San, Wei Chensheng worked as an actor in the Chinese Bangzi opera where he played roles impersonating vivacious young women. On his second career trip to Beijing in 1779, the actor became a sensation. In fact, audiences abandoned the two most popular forms of theater entertainment of the day (Gaoqiang, attended by commoners) and Kunqu (attended by Qing emperors and the imperial court) and flocked to see Wei Chensheng’s shows.
Wei Chensheng’s spirited performances impersonating females permanently revolutionized the landscape of opera in China. In fact, the Quing dynasty expelled the actor and even his theater genre from Beijing in 1785 to cure the popular craze. After his expulsion, Wei Chensheng headed south where he performed Kunqu in Yangzhou.
During his lifetime, the gay actor gained a reputed homosexual relationship with a man named Henshen, the most influential politician in 18th-century China. Over the next few decades, his innovative art evolved into the methods and performances showcased in the Peking opera.
14. Lin Xi
A famous lyricist from Hong Kong, Albert Leung Wei Man goes by the pen name of Lin Xi in his professional life. Born in Hong Kong a few years before the Cultural Revolution in 1961, Lin Xi obtained a degree from the University of Hong Kong’s School of Chinese Literature in 1984.
In 1985, he began his songwriter career and adopted Lin Xi as his pen name. Since then, Lin Xi has authored more than 2,500 lyrics for songs. Many of these songs were written for Chinese pop music icons such as Leslie Cheung, Faye Wong, Jay Chou, Andy Lau, and others in the industry.
While Lin Xi has never revealed his sexual orientation in public, he has told one of his close friends during an interview that he could be a woman. After Anthony Wong came onto the gay scene in 2012, it was rumored that Wong had a close relationship with Lin Xi.
15. Ji Mi
Known for his famous stylist skills, Ji Mi is likely the first celebrity on the Chinese mainland to come out publicly as gay. In 2000, Ji Mi started China’s first vocational school for makeup. After that, he successfully launched both a women’s high-end apparel brand and a cosmetics company.
In 2009, Ji Mi decided to go public with his gay sexual orientation. After he opened up about this part of his life, he started to look for a partner on Weibo, a social media site that is similar to Twitter. He had several requirements for a boyfriend that included being at least 6 feet (1.85 meters) tall, being responsible, focused, and kind. While Ji Mi gave a preferred age range of 25 to 35, he opened himself up to the possibility of love by considering all nationalities.
As a celebrity stylist and entrepreneur, Ji Mi has worked closely with many singers and actors in China and outside of the country. Some of these include Ricky Martin, Gong Li, Jet Li, and Zhang Ziyi.