News (USA)

Former Seattle councilwoman who came out last year at age 66 dies of cancer

SEATTLE — A former Seattle city councilwoman who announced last summer that she was gay and said she wanted to encourage others to tell their loved ones the truth, has died at age 66.

Cheryl Chow
Cheryl Chow was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. She described her coming out as her “last crusade.”

The Seattle Times reports that Chow died Friday at home. She married her partner of 10 years, Sarah Morningstar, earlier this month. Morningstar confirmed the death.

The two have a daughter, Liliana Morningstar-Chow, who turned 5 on Tuesday.

“I was lucky to have found my soul mate in life and her legacy lives on in Liliana,” Morningstar said.

Last year, Chow announced she was gay after being secretive for more than 60 years. She said she feared the reaction of the Chinese community and her mother, restaurateur and longtime King County Councilmember, Ruby Chow, who died in 2008.

Chow says her mother was one of the first restaurant owners in town to welcome gay organizations, but that didn’t mean she wanted her daughter to be gay.

She said she came out to encourage others to not be afraid to tell their parents or children the truth.

Chow was also an educator and former member of the Seattle School Board.

She was a principal, girls’ basketball coach and instructor of the Seattle Chinese Girls Drill Team. In her two terms on the city council, Chow helped create outreach programs for kids involved in Asian street gangs.

Chow was preceded in death by her parents. Besides her wife and daughter, Chow is survived by her four brothers.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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