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Author's Note Introduction Indonesia Thailand China Japan Malaysia Myanmar India Acknowledgements
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.
"The resulting travelogue is packed with highly entertaining anecdotes about a grab bag of subjects, from tagging along with the finalists in a Thai transgender beauty pageant to suffering near-apocalyptic digestive troubles in Mumbai." --PASSPORT Magazine "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)