Stay in the closet, Tsai tells stars

Talk-show host Kevin Tsai, who had come out of the closet 14 years ago, cried on a Chinese online talk show when he spoke about discouraging other stars from doing the same.
Talk-show host Kevin Tsai, who had come out of the closet 14 years ago, cried on a Chinese online talk show when he spoke about discouraging other stars from doing the same.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

Taipei - Taiwanese talk-show host Kevin Tsai has been out of the closet for 14 years, but at a recent emotional taping of a programme, he said that he has had a lonely journey and usually advises gay stars not to come out.

Tsai, 53, was the first male celebrity to come out in Taiwan, after writer Li Ao asked him about his marital status and sexual orientation point-blank on television in 2001.

Tsai was in tears at a taping of the Chinese online talk show U Can U Bibi when he spoke of how he became a mentor to actors considering coming out, said China Times.

He said: "A lot of stars aren't that familiar with me. They secretly go through friends to send me texts, saying they want to come out of the closet."

He added that he was once consulted by a star who was hoping to come out 10 minutes later and he knew that the other party would go ahead or stop, depending on his reply.

He made a self-deprecating remark: "I was under a lot of pressure. Well, I'm unlucky enough to be the only man who's out and still alive."

But he began crying when he explained his dilemma.

On the one hand, he wants more stars to come out so he will not be the only one, but on the other hand, he ends up advising them to stay in the closet.

He choked and stopped for half a minute before completing a sentence: "From the standpoint of my loneliness... I wish a lot of people would come out with me."

He said that he did not wish to be "the only person alive" the media could show for every mention of Taiwanese stars who have come out, reported Apple Daily.

"We've got to show those parents you can come out of the closet and not die," he added. "Not everyone out of the closet will be pushed into a dark corner of society."

However, from a rational standpoint, he still stops the stars, advises them to calm down and asks them to talk to him again six months or one year later because he is not sure they can bear what he has been through himself.

"The only thing I can do is prove to those worrying dads and mums that we're not monsters. We can live well here," he added.

In the United States, CNN anchorman Anderson Cooper and Apple chief executive Tim Cook are among some of the prominent people who have come out, Tsai noted.

But he said he could not ask a Chinese star to come out, knowing all the pressure he would be facing.

In Hong Kong, the late Cantopop legend Leslie Cheung came out as bisexual in 2001. Singers Denise Ho and Anthony Wong have also recently come out of the closet.

Explaining his tears at the taping, Tsai told Apple Daily on Tuesday: "I'm in the public gaze, in a lonely situation. All of a sudden, my feelings were mixed, and I cried. It was reasonable for me to cry for one minute."

Tsai, who has a boyfriend of 21 years, added that he was disappointed with the negative reponses online, after an excerpt from the taping was shared on the Internet.

His friends in Taiwan spoke up for him though.

Dee Hsu, who hosts the talk show Mr Con & Ms Csi with him, said: "He's always been brave. I really want to hug him and tell him how great he is."

Sisy Chen, the host of the show on which Li's question forced Tsai out of the closet, said: "You're a person true to yourself."

TV host A-ya said: "You're a genius, not a monster."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Stay in the closet, Tsai tells stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe