The yellow cover attracted me as I wander the aisle of Kinokuniya Sydney and the words GAYSIA and then BENJAMIN LAW.
I admire Benjamin Law’s clever writing and reviews in Frankie magazine. My family also watches The Family Law on SBS. The drama series was introduced to me by my husband and I was hooked.
I grabbed the book and I said outloud I must read this book!
What do I think of the book? Benjamin claims that he is lucky being gay in Australia. He wondered what it would have been like if he grew up and lived in Asia. So he went exploring and investigating in Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar and India.
I was wondering why he skipped the Philippines? Maybe he left that part for me. I grew up there and I have a lesbian Aunty who is a Police Sargeant and a distant gay Uncle who is the Who’s Who of the Asingan Town of Pangasinan Province.
The Philippines have popular gay actors, singers, comedians, hairdressers, make-up artists and clothes designer. They are thriving in all industries and very well accepted in society. While being gay/lesbian is ok, it’s not okay if it’s your son or daughter; or if they started going out with your brood. That’s the general view I observe as a child in my neighbourhood in Manila.
I think acceptance of family is the most important of all.
Benjamin IS lucky to be openly gay in Australia. He did not discuss his family’s reaction to his “gayness” in the book. On the TV series which I assume is loosely based on his life story, they were accepting of his sexuality.
In China, they hide their sexuality from their family so much so that they fake weddings. In poor cities, young men (gay and not gay) are exploited by foreigners. There is not a lot of option for these kids and this is an ‘easy way” to earn some money.
In these poor cities, a lot suffer from AIDS. They get very little help from the government or from anyone. (I must say it is a struggle to survive for all in some of the countries from civil unrest.)
Authorities in charge are also frolicking with the sex workers they are suppose to be educating. There are a lot of sad, helpless and horrific stories in the book.
There are also some stories of hope in some areas. It’s not all horror stories. I am glad I read the book. It expanded my knowledge about the joyful and sorrowful plight of LGBT in some areas of Asia.
NOTE: The booked did not discuss the everyday life of a gay person in Australia. Gay friends have shared bullying experience at school. Also watching RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under revealed some even receive death threats. So, not everyone has the same conclusion as Benjamin about life in Australia for LGBTs.
Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 19th June 2013
Publisher: Black Inc
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.7 x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.27
Edition Number: 1
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