02 January 2017

Book Review: Gaysia



Benjamin Law is a gay Asian-Australian journalist. This is his second book.

There are aspects of this book which are great and then there are aspects of this book which are not so great.

In an attempt to be comprehensive in terms of "Asia", Law fails. In looking at "gay" Indonesia, for example, Law looks only at  Bali which constitutes 2% of the population and unrepresentative of the overall "majority" Muslim population. On the other hand, the material on gay Bali is pretty thin. The same can be said for Malaysia where he focuses on Christian Malaysians -- which is less than 10% of the population. But again, who writes about gay Christian Malaysians?

While his reporting from Myanmar seems to be the exception to what I'm about to say, Law fails to analyze the class relationships that structure must of what he witnesses. And as an extension of this criticism, in many ways, issues of colonialism, imperialism and patriarchy are not fully addressed -- and occasionally, he seems to be more Australian and Asian.

It's worth reading as long as one understand the limitations of this popular Australian personality.

The version I read was a 288 page paperback published by Cleis Press (May 13, 2014). The cheapest versions I found online were abebooks.com and amazon.com.

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