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Charlene Chua
Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014

Singapore

Edmund Chen's sister: My family never judged me

The New Paper | Charlene Chua | Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014

ALL SMILES: (Right) Edmund Chen, 52, and his sister Loretta Chen, 38.

He was her rock, her pillar of support. A brother who stood by her.

Right up to the time when she, then a student in the US, contemplated suicide following the death of her partner, who had taken her own life.

Those were was her darkest days, but theatre director Loretta Chen's brother, former local actor Edmund Chen, stood by her. Thanks to him and her family, who supported her through her ordeal, Chen is alive today.

Said the 38-year-old: "My family was the one who kept me alive. Edmund, and everyone, never judged me and were there for me when my partner died.

"That and I also read a lot, which was how I coped with my demons." Chen, who was openly lesbian in her 20s, opened up recently about dating women when she was younger and having her then-partner commit suicide when she was studying at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

She has recounted that episode in a tell-all book, Woman On Top, launched today. In it, she spoke for the first time about overcoming her grief and depression after her partner died.

Chen hopes her account will help people cope with sensitive issues in their lives.

The creative and group business development director stressed that this story was not about her sexuality.

Currently single, she is looking forward to meeting Mr Right, getting married and having children.

She added: "I didn't find it hard dating women, but it was hard on other people. Some of them even made comments like if I were dating a man, the suicide wouldn't have happened."

At 24, she had been studying for her PhD in critical theory at UCLA when she was informed of the devastating news: that her partner, identified only as G, had been found dead after she hanged herself in her bathroom.

This was less than three months after G's former partner had committed suicide, also by hanging.

Recounting the episode and how badly it affected his sister, Edmund, 52, who is married to local actress Xiang Yun, told The New Paper: "I knew she was dating a woman. In fact, even my children knew and we all just accepted it without question.

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