Welcome to the spotlight, Jake Zyrus.
The singer formerly known as Charice Pempengco, who first rose to fame as a young Filipina with a powerhouse voice, announced this week his transgender identity.
The 25-year-old star had scrubbed his social media accounts when he made the announcement, changing his usernames to fit his identity and deleting all of his past photos on Instagram. Zyrus even created a Facebook page named after what he will apparently call his fans: “Jakesters.”
After the digital overhaul, the singer thanked his fans for the support on Twitter.
“My first tweet as Jake. Overwhelmed,” Zyrus wrote on Sunday. “Saw all your love and comments and I’m so happy. Finally. I love you, everyone and see you soon.”
The official debut of Jake Zyrus comes four years after the singer publicly came out as gay in 2013 on the Filipino TV show “The Buzz.”
“Yes, I’m a lesbian,” Zyrus said then. “I don’t see a problem with that, because for me there isn’t a problem. Now, I would like to ask for forgiveness from the people that don’t understand.”
Zyrus came out again to American audiences in 2014 during an appearance on Oprah’s show “Where Are They Now.”
“Basically, my soul is male,” Zyrus explained to Oprah. “But I’m not going to go through that stage where I’m going to change everything.”
Zyrus’ singing career began at a young age in the Philippines when he started performing in talent shows ― first locally, then throughout Asia ― as a way to make money for his family. Attention on Zyrus skyrocketed after people began posting videos of his performances to YouTube.
The small teen’s powerful voice and mastery of big ballads by Céline Dion and Whitney Houston earned him spots on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and eventually, a guest starring role as Sunshine Corazon on the hit musical TV show “Glee.”
After Zyrus announced his new name on Sunday, Esquire magazine’s Filipino edition published an article that made fun of Zyrus’ name choice, then swiftly retracted it with an apology after readers slammed the magazine for not taking Zyrus’ identity seriously.
“Bottom line: it wasn’t cool to say what we said,” Esquire Philippines wrote on Wednesday. “What we intended as snark is actually a very harmful affront to the rights of transgender people, and it cannot go hand-in-hand with support of them.”
Zyrus accepted Esquire’s apology and thanked readers for shedding light on the issue of transgender names.