Gwyneth Ho “Leslie Cheung: Asia's gay icon lives on 15 years after his death” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-43637749
Born in 1962, Leslie Cheung was one of Hong Kong's most famous stars during the golden era of Cantopop in the 1980s.
It was not an easy time to be gay. At that time, homosexuality was still viewed by many as an illness and abnormality in Hong Kong, especially after the emergence of the first local case of Aids in 1984. It was not until 1991 that adult gay sex was decriminalised in the territory.
"The LGBT movement in Hong Kong took off in the 1990s, when the community finally became visible to the public," Travis Kong*3, an associate professor of sociology researching gay culture at The University of Hong Kong, told BBC Chinese.
He first came to international attention with his portrayal of Cheng Dieyi, the androgynous Peking Opera star, for the film Farewell My Concubine, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1993.
He went on to star in Happy Together directed by Wong Kar Wai - a gay cinema classic about a couple who struggle to find a peaceful co-existence.
"Happy Together is different. It is a stereotypical heterosexual romance, but played by two men," said Kit Hung, a Hong Kong director.
Meanwhile, Christopher Doyle, the renowned cinematographer who worked with Cheung on various Wong Kar Wai films, told BBC Chinese: "He was so beautiful. We both wanted to convey through my lens the most beautiful, sincerest side of him.
"He enters our imagination audaciously... always showing us better possibilities."
On stage, Cheung unleashed a sexually fluid charm. His defining queer performance came in a 1997 concert where he danced intimately with a male dancer to his song Red. He wore a black suit with a pair of sparkling crimson high-heels.
At that concert he dedicated a classic love song to the two "loves of his life", his mother and his partner Daffy Tong. This is seen as the moment he came out of the closet. Cheung did not proclaim his sexuality as such, but confessed his love for a man.
"In the 1990s, at times a gay man was still called 'Aids man' and 'pervert'," says Mr Kong. "In a society so oppressive to the LGBT community, the coming out of such a renowned superstar had a huge effect on the general public."
Despite his success across Asia, there were many who did not appreciate this side of Cheung.
At the 1998 Hong Kong Film Awards, Happy Together was mocked by comedians, who described it as a film that would make the audience vomit. A music video he directed, featuring him topless with a male ballet dancer, was also censored by major local TV channel TVB.
In 2000 Leslie became the first Asian star to wear a tailor-made costume by French fashion master Jean-Paul Gaultier in a concert. With waist-length hair, clearly visible stubble and a muscular build, Cheung also wore tight transparent trousers and a short skirt.
He ended the concert with his self-revealing ballad I. "The theme of my performance is this: The most important thing in life, apart from love, is to appreciate your own self," he explained.
"I won't hide, I will live my life the way I like under the bright light" he sang. "I am what I am, firelight of a different colour."
But he was dismissed as a "transvestite", "perverted" or "haunted by a female ghost" in local media. He would dismiss that criticism as superficial and short-sighted.
Never legally married, Mr Tong's was the first name listed on the family's announcement of Cheung's death, credited "Love of His Life".
Same-sex marriage or civil unions are still not legal in Hong Kong, but in the city's collective memory, Cheung and Tong are fondly remembered as an iconic, loving couple.
Hong Kong still lacks anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT communities but queer identity and sexual fluidity are no longer so taboo and are part of the social landscape.
Last year a museum in Hong Kong held an exhibition "Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture". The first exhibit visitors encountered upon entering the venue was a pair of sparkling crimson high-heels - the pair Cheung wore performing Red in 1997.
*4:See eg. Press Association “Tony Blair named as one of top gay icons of past 30 years” http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/26/tony-blair-top-gay-icons-30-years Cited in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20140927/1411785366