When Christian missionaries first arrived in Japan they were mocked by common folk in the street who would point and shout, "Look, they're the ones who think buggery is bad!" Today, things have moved on and no less so in Asia where nearly a dozen annual public Gay Pride festivals generate income along with awareness, and now Asia's leading gay website has published a new guide to their local gay scene, reports OutUK's Stevie Gardiner.
Asia is often assumed, incorrectly, to be inhospitable to homosexuality. On the contrary, despite lingering colonial-era laws, political opportunism and panic perpetuated by non-indigenous religions, Asia is rich in its varieties of sexual expression. Local cultures are traditionally tolerant of behaviour considered to be essentially private. Mass media in most, but of course not all, Asian countries now regularly produce TV and film with more complex depictions of queer life. Courts, in even conservative countries like South Korea, are striking down institutionalized discrimination. Governments are sponsoring programmes to educate young students about sexual diversity.
For the first time, the region's homosexual subcultures have been collected in a single volume to illustrate a surprisingly widespread gay scene. While the guidebook uses conventional categories for ease of reference, the jaw-dropping variety of alternatives to strict heterosexuality defy conventional social and academic boundaries. Included within are complete listings for the gay and lesbian scene in Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, together with "best of" listings for select major cities in a dozen other countries.
The Utopia Guide to Asia compiles contact details for organizations and businesses including hotel, bars, discos, spas, and restaurants.

A special section of the book highlights groups, clubs, and spaces that are especially welcoming for women. Hundreds of tips and warnings from locals and visitors provide first hand insights for both frequent travellers and armchair explorers.

Utopia's Asia Guide is available now from Amazon. You can find the Utopia website at www.utopia-asia.com

 

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