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Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East Paperback – May 13, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cleis Press (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 162778036X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1627780360
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Law has unusual adventures here, but in between the funny asides and sharp perceptions, he offers serious observations to show that Asia may be halfway around the world, but it’s closer than we think. This book is explicit and profanity-laden, but it’s also funny and charming and worthy of being tucked in your carryon this summer. Take Gaysia with you on vacation, and you certainly won’t be bored."
—Terri Schlichenmeyer

"Surprising, sometimes funny, and often poignant."
—NonFiction Reads Book Reviews

"Law blends an accessible journalistic style familiar to fans of travel writing with solid research and investigation into various queer cultures in the countries he visits."
—Queer and Now

"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."
—Creative Loafing Tampa

"Some may be tempted to skip over the underbelly of issues that Law presents and just go for the romp, as the book is highly entertaining. But as the author demonstrates, the complexity is there for the seeing if people care to look. Gaysia is worth the look."
—Click Heels Traveler

"Why I picked it up: The title. Why I finished it: Each country deals with the reality of gay citizens differently."
—Unshelved Book Club

"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 together a book that at first glance starts as a sexy romp through Asia, bringing him to the gay hotspots coming into consciousness, in what he calls the gayest continent on earth. It’s the truth of course, based on census figures in this most populous area of the world. Law digs deeper though, bringing us far under the surface, giving us keen observations on emerging gay rights issues in these regions, along with the poignant contrasts and issues that tourism of all kinds brings, destroying paradise, even while lifting countries and destinations out of poverty. Of Asian extraction, Law also straddles two worlds – he is a part of the cultures he is seeing, and yet not, as a native born Australian. Law has achieved what seems the impossible in the Gaysia collection: a sensual enjoyable read, full of titillation, at once part of the gay travel circuit, yet deep with sociological observations, along with a clear understanding of Asian history. Whether you’re planning a trip to Asia, an armchair tourist, or merely curious, Gaysia is a book you should add to your collection." —Michael Luongo, editor, Gay Travels in the Muslim World (Routledge)

From the Back Cover

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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Customer Reviews

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the societies of Australia's neighbours.
Annie Termaat
Sometimes I wish I didn't know about them, because their lives seem so hard, and I, spoiled Westerner, don't like to think about real people facing hard things.
Rita Arens
This book is not all fun and games; but there is much here of great interest and value.
Ulysses Dietz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ulysses Dietz on January 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished "Gaysia," recommended to me by a friend, while on a business trip to Chicago. It is promoted as a wild romp through all of gay Asia - but ultimately, it is a far more fascinating and, indeed, moving book than that. I might venture to say that this is an important book - particularly for westerners who don't know much about life in Asia. Most of us, in fact.

Law, an ethnically Chinese Australian, begins his peregrinations in Bali at an all gay resort that seems to be setting up the book as a somewhat leering view of gay foreigners and Asian sex workers. But that's the trick of this book. It does indeed deal a lot with sex workers, and gay folks (and lesbians and transgendered folks) - but the leering tone rapidly turns to one of thoughtful observation. In what I'm sure was a calculated move, Law gradually moves his readers from the fun side of being gay in Asia to the side of oppression and marginalization. He explores aspects of gay truth in Asia that are as alien and disturbing to us as they are to him (him being a happily out 20-something Australian). And yet, unfailingly, Law approaches everyone he meets on his travels with respect, from transgender beauty queens to anti-gay yoga gurus. Sure, there are plenty of snarky asides - intended only for our eyes - but I gained enormous respect for Law, as I followed his journey along sometimes harrowing and often unnerving paths, meeting people and going places that are hard for me to imagine.

For someone known as a comedian, and someone so young (young enough to be my child), Law evinces a deep maturity and sensitivity in this book, and the one of the penultimate moments, when he attends his first gay pride march - in Mumbai - was as moving for me as it was for him. This book is not all fun and games; but there is much here of great interest and value.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jonm_ on September 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gaysia: Adventures In The Queer East is a fully fascinating book, right from the get-go I was hooked by Law's voice and his journey around Asia would be fascinating without the queer aspect. Being serious here, man should write a travel book. But learning about how these various countries tackle homosexuality, and learning about these features is wonderful, and well worth a read. The characters he interviews throughout are intriguing and there was no boring sections to the novel. Law's an excellent writer, and I'm excited for his next work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Annie Termaat on November 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ben Law is a hilarious writer although some of these stories are very sad. I have visited several of the countries he has shows though his original, erudite lens.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the societies of Australia's neighbours.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LB on November 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Benjamin has an excellent way with words. Gaysia provides an an eye opening experience to the queer east through the use of humorous honesty. Fantastic read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By QuixoticOrchid on May 1, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is probably one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I've ever read. Author Benjamin Law takes a journey through Asia exploring both the well-known aspects such as Indonesia's tourism fed money boys to Thailand's popular transsexual beauty pageants and all the cultures behind the scenes like China's denial of all things homosexual and Japan's acceptance as long as it's campy and funny. If I'm not mistaken, May equals Gay Pride and this over the rainbow trip through all the colors of the spectrum is definitely something to be proud of.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amy on January 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a fan of Benjamin Law's other book and journalism, I knew I was in for a treat with this one. Laugh out loud funny.
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By Salam on July 22, 2014
Format: Paperback
Take a tour through the queer east. It's a genuinely amazing story. Benjamin Law interviews array of different people and visits places that will blow your mind. You'll read about the most fascinating people and enjoy the humor above all. Law educates his readers and delivers a powerful message on the importance of seeing the bigger picture when it comes to human rights.
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The first chapter, Bali, is very funny. I was laughing uncontrollably in public places reading it. Then it becomes very informative for other chapters, albeit less funny. I could not put this book down, recommended for light informative (and slightly humorous) reading about resilience of lgbt communities where their rights are denied.
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