Philippine pop star Charice has announced she is a lesbian, ending weeks of speculation in the local press following a drastic image change where she ditched her teen starlet look and adopted a more edgy style.
The 21-year-old star who initially found fame through YouTube and gained international recognition through appearances on the American show Glee, disclosed her sexual orientation to The Buzz, a local showbiz talkshow.
“Yes, I am a tomboy,” Charice said on Sunday, when asked if she was gay.
“Now, I feel free. I can go out of the house without fear and be certain that I’m not stepping on anybody’s toes.”
“To those who can accept me, thank you very much,” she said tearfully.
In the interview Charice also said she was estranged from her mother, who raised her single-handedly and began her career by entering her in singing competitions when she was young.
Her revelation received positive feedback and expressions of support in the mainly Catholic, socially conservative country with many taking to social media to praise the diminutive singer.
“Dear OfficialCharice have you any idea how many young people you inspired today? More power, blessings and love to you!” tweeted Tony award-winning actress and singer Leah Salonga (MsLeaSalonga), a fellow Filipina international star.
“So Charice is out of the closet. Did that take her talent away? Did it change her voice? NO. Same talented person, just happier,” added local celebrity Bubbles Paraiso (bubblesparaiso) on the social media website.
Charice’s decision to come out also received praise overseas. “So proud of you!” tweeted American celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. “You are opening doors and hearts and minds with your bravery and honesty! Leading by example! BIG HUG!”
Born Charice Pempengco, but more popularly known by her first name, the 21-year-old has a significant following both in the Philippines and the United States, appearing on major US television programmes such as the Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Oprah Winfrey Show, and playing the character Sunshine Corazon in Glee.
She has also toured internationally with award-winning American composer David Foster, and her first international studio album released in 2010 broke into the top 10 of the Billboard 200, in a first for any Asian solo singer.
Charice has been in the spotlight in the local press lately after she dramatically revamped her image - from a long-haired girl singing love songs to a more masculine look complete with short, dyed hair.
Photos of her holding hands with an unidentified young woman had also circulated on local internet fan sites.
Recognising that her decision to come out could upset some of her fans she said in the interview: “I am proud of who I am. I love myself, that is why I am doing this.
“To my fans who I know are disappointed - I know some of you will turn your back on me too - sorry. You know I am sincere. From the bottom of my heart, sorry.”