Gaysia : Adventures in the Queer East

3.91 (1,169 ratings by Goodreads)
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Benjamin Law considers himself pretty lucky to live in Australia: he can hold his boyfriend's hand in public and lobby his politicians to recognize same-sex marriage. But as the child of immigrants, he's also curious about how different life might have been had he grown up in Asia. So he sets off to meet his fellow Gaysians. Law takes his investigative duties seriously, going nude where required in Balinese sex resorts, sitting backstage for hours with Thai ladyboy beauty contestants, and trying Indian yoga classes designed to cure his homosexuality. The characters he meets -- from Tokyo's celebrity drag queens to HIV-positive Burmese sex workers and Malaysian ex-gay Christian fundamentalists to Chinese gays and lesbians who marry each other to please their parents -- all teach him something new about being queer in Asia. At once entertaining and moving, Gaysia is a wild ride and a fascinating quest by a leading Australian writer.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 22.86mm | 1g
  • San Francisco, United States
  • English
  • 162778036X
  • 9781627780360
  • 242,701

Back cover copy

Benjamin Law spent nearly a year skipping between seven Asian countries, sitting backstage with Bangkok ladyboys before their beauty pageants, talking to Tokyo's superstar drag queens, marching in the heat with Mumbai's fierce queer rights activists, listening to Melaka preachers who claim they can heal homosexuality and hanging out with Bali's moneyboys and the foreigners who hire them. At once entertaining and moving, "Gaysia" is a wild ride and a fascinating quest by a leading travel writer. See Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar and India as never before through the eyes of gonzo anthropologist and journalist Benjamin Law.
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Review quote

"An old Tibetan proverb says that on every journey, you must die once. The person who returns should not be the same person who left. I invite you to travel to Indonesia, Thailand and China, to Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar and India with an observant and sensitive explorer as your guide. It will be an adventurous trip in which you meet the moneyboys of Bali, the ladyboys of Thailand, the hidden gay Internet of China, the Chinese gay ghosts and their homowives and the grand gay celebrities of Japanese television in a country that pretends to have no other kind of LGBT person. You will be befriended and taken around with Christian and Muslim fundamentalists who claim to cure homosexuality. And yes, they have been named after and trained by American fundamentalists and the folk at the Christian ex-Gay organization called NARTH. The extreme poverty and rampant AIDS in Myanmar will open your heart in sadness. And you will get to know the inspiring activists of India, gay and straight, along with a gay swamiji who thinks that being gay is sick and must be cured. There is a theme of fear and self-hatred here--that runs throughout the world--but it is balanced out by the Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride Parade, the biggest queer event in the world's most populous democracy.
There are a lot of ingredients here, but they are blended together with a rare skill: over-the-top beauty pageants, sacred in their depth of feeling for lives lived truthfully, no matter how difficult it can be; religious institutions and persons, profane in their betrayal of that which is best in us; dangers and gay celebrations; an exotic itinerary through seven of Asia's (and the world's) most interesting countries; a fast, fabulous, funny, sad read of life, love and the great gay happening world of Asia. Cheers to the future! And to your guide and friend through "Gaysia," Benjamin Law." --Aaron Allbright, author of "The Land Near Oz: Two Gay Yankees Move to New Zealand"
"Benjamin Law has put toget
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About Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law is the author of The Family Law and a frequent contributor to frankie magazine, Monthly, and QWeekend. His work has been published in Good Weekend, Cleo, Crikey, Griffith Review, and The Best Australian Essays. He lives in Brisbane, Australia.
Like Huck Finn, Aaron Allbright was born in Missouri and grew up on the banks of the Mississippi. He spent three years in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone before traveling overland through other parts of Africa for a year and crossing the Sahara twice. Later, he called Saudi Arabia (eight months) and France (four years) home. In Paris, he was a member of the Union des Artistes and acted at the Duncan Theater in the Rue de Seine and at the Theatre de l'Atelier in Montmartre. He and his spouse trekked extensively in the Himalaya before settling in Orange County, California. For the past seven years, they have lived in New Zealand with two cats, two dogs, sheep, cows and a donkey named Don Quixote. The Land Near Oz is his first memoir. Aaron Allbright has degrees in Russian Area Studies, Russian literature, and linguistics and has taught in Sierra Leone-West Africa; Saudi Arabia; Paris; the University of California Irvine; and was a tenured professor at Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, CA.
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Rating details

1,169 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 23% (265)
4 50% (579)
3 24% (281)
2 3% (39)
1 0% (5)
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