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In Session: The Internet and Articulations of Sexuality in East and Southeast Asia
2: Queer Sinophone Digital Circuit between Malaysia and Taiwan
Friday, March 26, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Monash University Malaysia, Malaysia
Stemmed from a collaborative project of visual and digital cultures in the negotiation of Malaysia’s global modernities, this paper traces the exchanges of queer discourses and imageries between Malaysia and East Asian Chinese-speaking societies especially Taiwan and argues for the significance of digital media and technologies in the formation of queer Sinophone Malaysia in the 21st century. Drawing on field research and interviews with ethnic Chinese LGBT people and activists in Malaysia and Taiwan, this paper provides two perspectives that shed light on the relevance and working of a queer Sinophone digital circuit. First, it demonstrates that Taiwan-based queer websites such as discussion forums and streaming services have been instrumental in forging a transnational Chinese queer consciousness and identity among Chinese Malaysian queer people since the early 2000s. Second, it highlights that social media sites such as Facebook have not only intensified exchanges and cooperation between queer activists in Malaysia and Taiwan but also generated new discourses of queer politics that increasingly situate local concerns in a transnational frame such as the recently formed Taiwan Transnational Marriage Equality Alliance. Informed by the scholarship on queer Sinophone cultures (e.g. Chiang and Heinrich 2013; Chiang and Wong 2020), this paper concludes by arguing for the importance of language (i.e. Chinese) in shaping queer digital cultures across the Chinese-speaking world in East and Southeast Asia.