Hong Kong's First Lesbian Pop Star Is Also One Of Its Outspoken Political Activists

Curtis M. Wong
·2-min read

Denise Ho set a precedent in 2012 when she came out as a lesbian, reportedly becomingHong Kong’s first major female singer ever to do so.

Eight years later, the 43-year-old Cantopop icon continues to take personal and professional risks as her career has grown to encompass activism amid Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.

Often referred to as the “Umbrella Movement,” those demonstrations began in 2014 with the aim of ensuring that Hong Kong ― run by the U.K. as part of the former British Empire until 1997 ― would maintain some political independence from China.

Her journey is captured for posterity in “Denise Ho: Becoming the Song,” which hit virtual cinemas this week. Directed by Sue Williams, the documentary follows Ho throughout 2017 as she aims to re-establish herself within the Cantopop music scene after losing sponsorships and getting blacklisted by radio because of her activism.

(Watch the trailer for “Denise Ho: Becoming the Song” above.)

“Under the cloak of the global pandemic, China is carrying out a harsh crackdown on ordinary Hong Kongers and arresting more pro-democratic leaders,” Williams, whose credits include 2016′s “Death by Design,” said in press notes for the film. “Denise’s creativity and resilience are a moving reminder of the power of courageous individuals — and music — in the fight for freedom and democracy.”

“Denise Ho: Becoming the Song” hit virtual cinemas the day after LGBTQ Pride Month ended, but its Wednesday release couldn’t be better timed. On Tuesday, China passed a new security law giving the nation extensive powers over Hong Kong’s legal system.

The controversial legislation said that anyone who provokes “hatred” of the Chinese government commits a criminal act. By Thursday, local police had reportedly arrested about 370 people, 10 of whom were suspected of violating the new law.

Since its release Wednesday, “Denise Ho: Becoming the Song” has been met with...

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