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How Thai Media Made “Gay Bangkok” by Emeritus Professor Peter A Jackson

Thailand is well known internationally for its highly visible, diverse and increasingly vocal transgender, lesbian and gay cultures and communities.  In international media, both in the West and in much of Asia, Thailand is often highlighted for its so-called cultural “tolerance” of gender and sexual diversity.  However, in his public talk at SEA Junction on 28 March at 5-7PM Peter Jackson, Emeritus Professor of Thai history and cultural studies in the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific, will who how recent Thailand’s now very public queer communities are.  Rather than being “traditional”, the country’s diverse queer communities only came into being in the later decades of the 20th century.  In this talk, Peter Jackson traces the formative roles of Thai-language newspapers and magazines in the emergence of all of Thailand’s modern kathoey, gay and lesbian communities.  Starting with newspaper exposes in the 1960s, followed by articles in popular mass circulation magazines in the 1970s, and then gay and lesbian commercial magazines and community newsletters from the 1980s, modern print media were key forces in the creation of the diverse queer communities for which Thailand is now famous.

The speaker will draw on issues covered in two of his recent books, “First Queer Voices from Thailand” (2016 Hong Kong University Press) and “Queer Bangkok: 21st Century Markets, Media and Rights” (2011 Hong Kong University Press and Silkworm Books).  He will also refer to the digitised collection of more than 1,000 Thai-language gay, lesbian and kathoey magazines and newsletters from the 1980s and the 1990s that are now preserved in the Thai Rainbow Archive as part of the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme (Search: “Thai Rainbow Archives EAP128” at http://eap.bl.uk/database/results.a4d?projID=EAP128). 

A limited number of copies of Peter Jackson’s books “Queer Bangkok” and “First Queer Voices from Thailand” will be on sale at the talk for specially discounted prices. For more information on the event contact SEA Junction at southeastasiajunction@gmail.com

Peter Jackson will also be giving an illustrated talk in Thai about his most recent book “First Queer Voices from Thailand” at 1.00 pm on Monday 27 March at the Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre.  For information please contact Dr Narupon Duangwises, Ph 02 880 9429 Ext. 3807. Email Narupon.d@sac.or.th

Peter A. Jackson PhD is Emeritus Professor of Thai history and cultural studies in the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. Over the past 30 years, he has written extensively on modern Thai cultural history, with special interests in religion, sexuality and critical approaches to Asian histories and cultures.