AsiaPacifiQueer is a book for people who want to read on topics related to LGBTQ+ communities in Asia on a deeper, maybe even academic, level. The book is actually a post-conference publication, put together after the largest meeting of queer studies scholars in South and East Asia, which took place in 2005 in Bangkok. Scientists from all over Asia, from Iran to Vietnam and Indonesia, have started a scientific cooperation that aims to break the Euro-American hegemony of intellectual life and public debates in Asia. And there is a lot of work to do because, as the editors of the volume write, Asians are often treated in Western pop culture as objects of desire, but rarely as individuals with their own preferences and will. Their ethnicity is used to fuel Western ideas about “exotic” sexuality, stimulate the vision of Asia as a place of crazy, “wild” adventures – including erotic ones.
The subsequent chapters, accompanied by a comparative perspective, offer historical, political, literary, cinematic and sociological analyzes of the history and current situation of queer communities in East Asia. Often LGBTQ+ people have marked their presence in the culture and politics of the region much earlier than it might seem. However, the development of new communication technologies and the progress of globalization have led to two phenomena that have significantly changed the life of LGBTQ+ people in Asia. On one hand, the authors observe the creation of a common international identity for gays, lesbians, transgender people and other queer groups. They call it global queering. On the other hand, the authors point out that sexual and gender minorities are forced to function as a kind of hybrid: at the local level they are plagued by repression and restrictions, and at the global level they are forced to become uniform.
The latter problem – the opposition of “local diversity” to the concept of “global homogeneity” – places LGBTQ+ issues in the broader context of the neo-colonial cultural dominance of Europe and America. The authors argue that the way local minorities are treated is nothing more than a continuation of the orientalization of those communities.
Despite, or perhaps because of, AsiaPacifiQueer’s academic approach, readers can better understand South and East Asia. And not only in terms of the functioning of queer people there, but above all from the perspective of local minority groups that are trying to mark their place in a world dominated by European and North American influences, amidst political and social repression, and in spite of the capitalist pursuit of global uniformity of our life and culture.