Gaysia by Benjamin Law – Book Review

I hate the title of this book. Perhaps I’m a prude, but I just didn’t want to take this book on the train or tram or whatever just because of the title. Yet, it’s pretty much the perfect title for the book. Benjamin Law went to various parts of Asia and checked out stuff that was happening in the gay communities around the place. Still hate the title.

The first chapter made me wonder if the whole book was going to be about nude gay men having sex in and around pools in gay, clothing optional resorts. Whilst Law looked at the way the sex industry was affecting Balinese culture, it seemed a bit light-hearted. In chapter two, he spends time with the organizers and contestants in one of the world’s only transsexual beauty pagents. Again, it initially seemed a bit light, but then delved below the surface. It was only in chapter three that I began to really get into the rhythm of the writing and the humour, so much so that I re-read the first two chapters when I finished the book and found a lot more depth than had originally struck me.

Benjamin Law was another author that I discovered during the MWF (click here for more) and I am so glad I picked up this book. It is fascinating to learn about other cultures, and the way it is written gives no real judgement or criticism to the culture. Or perhaps I don’t see this because I probably share similar opinions with the author as to what is right and wrong. I suspect that the judgement is not explicit, but rather is in the general attitude of the pieces. As I made my way through the book, I found I couldn’t put it down without finishing the chapter. I needed to see each story through to the end. It was fascinating.

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