Firelight of a Different Colour: The Life and Times of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing by Nigel Collett


Every year on the 1st of April, I will remember it's Leslie Cheung's death anniversary. I can't recall the year, and not to be mistaken, I'm not his hardcore fan either, but the strange thing is I do feel a tiny of unsettled every year on that date. And I remember some celebrities couldn't believe the news then and thought it was a joke because the date was April Fools' Day.

When the news of his death was reported at that time, I felt disheartened, especially after knowing the cause of his death. He has the looks and talent, and I never heard anything negative about him. I've never seen such a perfect person before, even until now. Even if you are not his fan, you can't deny that he is a multi-talented person with a beautiful voice and a handsome face.

This book has clarified one thing that I'd misunderstood throughout my life. I'd always thought Teresa Mo was his lover or they had been deeply in love for several years. After reading this book, I only realised that it was a short relationship, maybe not even a serious one. Perhaps they had good feelings for each other, but it sounded far from marriage since they had just met for a year or two. It's understandable why Teresa rejected his marriage proposal. Unfortunately, some blame her for Leslie's ending his life or her rejection turned him to homosexuality. And even now, she is still being tagged along with the name Leslie Cheung. I feel bad for her as if she can't have her own identity and story with her own name. It's always something about Leslie along the line - "Leslie Cheung's ex-girlfriend", "once dated with Leslie Cheung", etc.

To be honest, I am astonished to learn that Leslie had such a difficult life in his career. I always thought he had a smooth sailing career, given his fame during the 80s and 90s. The most shocking part for me is his rocky career at the beginning. All this while, I thought he could have everything easily due to his attractive looks and beautiful voice. It's rarely heard of any criticism towards him, and it's the first time I read about those which occurred during his early career. His androgynous looks and sexuality had become his identity in his later years, and I have no idea people were so harsh to him during that time.

This is the first time I learned that the song "Thanks, Monica" originated in Japan. It led me to find the music video, and I listened to both versions. I heard that song several times in my life but didn't take much heed of it. It's the first time I'm listening to the song from the beginning until the end. I should feel proud that this song is sharing the same age as me. It didn't strike me at all that he has an unhappy life when watching Leslie's performance. He was so flamboyant, dancing in total confidence and stylishly singing the song. The way he sang the name "Monica" makes you so easily fall in love with him.

Throughout his life, there are times he seems disoriented about whether he should come out of the closet or reserve his privacy. I understand his dilemma between his career and relationship. I don't think the public could accept such a high-profile homosexual artist at that time. I think he really wanted to openly show his love and appreciation to his partner, but at the same time, he had no idea how to do it without damaging his reputation or hurting his partner. I sense that he's a very sensitive person and someone who strives for perfection. Any negativity, even a touch of disapproval, will hurt his feelings. Besides, the Hong Kong tabloids and media are skilled at twisting words and scurrilous reporting. There is no room for him to express himself truthfully, and I wonder if the media gave him a hard time just because he is gay. He deserves better respect as a person and recognition for his talents.

As an outsider reading about Leslie's life, I started to get tired of the countless times answering questions about his sexual orientation. It's exhausting being him. Maybe the word exhausting is even understatement. Why don't people leave him alone with whatever gender of his partner? I wonder if all these had contributed to the pressure and pushed him to commit the unthinkable. I wonder if life would be easier if he is still alive due to the slight improvement in LGBT acceptance. At the same time, I wonder whether he can cope with the pressure from social media.

When reading Leslie's life story towards the end, it feels like his life was pressured and tightly squeezed until there's no room for him to breathe. His partner and friends had tried their best to help him in whatever form until the end, but it was too difficult to dive into his world to understand the state of his mind.

This is a simple narration of Leslie Cheung's life. There wasn't an in-depth writing style, and it was written in a simple manner. It was more like researching Leslie Cheung's life and compiling them into a book. It felt like someone did the hard work, and I just needed to read the outcome of the research. Since I'm interested in learning more about Leslie's life, I don't have to scout around on the Internet, which sometimes, I don't even know what I should look for.

Rest in Peace, Leslie.

ISBN Number of Pages Rating
9789881554208 (eBook) 446 ★★★ (3/5)
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