Thursday, January 28, 2010

Attitudes of straight Asian guys to homosexuality

"A colleague told me today that I'm quite Metrosexual," says boyfriend T to me over dinner recently.

"Well he's kind of right, isn't he," I giggle, "apart from one important detail!"

"Yes, but I'm never going to come out, so I don't like people getting too close to the truth :-(."

"Do you really think he'd mind if you told him that you're gay?"

"I think he'd tell me to Fuck Off," replies boyfriend T, looking quite upset.

"You always say that, but I simply don't believe that everyone who you know is as completely homophobic as you think. Firstly, when a guy is confident about being straight, he really doesn't care if other guys are gay."

Boyfriend T shrugs, not sure whether to believe me or not.

"But more importantly," I continue, "whoever you're talking to about being gay, if you're 100% confident about your sexuality then you're likely to get a good reaction. It's when you're clearly unhappy about it and you tell someone, in that case the reaction might be 'Fuck Off'. But if your attitude is more like 'being gay is great, and by being my friend you can share in my fabulous lifestyle', then that kind of confidence is infectious :-)."

Although I don't mention it in the conversation, a couple of years ago I actually did a post about this topic, which I called The confidence mirror.

"But like me, this colleague is Asian," answers boyfriend T finally, after a short pause, "and he's straight too. He might not react much if I told him, but underneath I know what he'd be thinking and he'd definitely want to run away :-(. Worse, I'm sure he'd tell everyone, and then everyone would dislike me :-((."

It's clear that I'm not going to get anywhere with this discussion so I drop the topic and we start talking about what we're going to do the following weekend.

Later I start thinking about what boyfriend T said, and I realise that although I've met a lot of gay Asian guys, I have no experience in discussing gay life with straight Asians. So I'm wondering whether boyfriend T is right about the reaction that he's likely to get from other Asian guys? Presumably though, guys from different countries might react differently, so perhaps straight Thai guys would have a different attitude to straight Japanese guys? And what about the reaction of straight Indian guys, straight Korean guys, straight Chinese guys, straight Malaysian guys, ...

If any readers can educate me on this subject then I'd be very grateful :-).


Anonymous said...


Blog-hopping got me here :)

I don't think Asians are as homophobic as they are made out to be..but yes, ppl frm diff countries might react differently..

Homosexuality is no longer a taboo subject in India..And a lot of ppl I know are not homophobic..

I know quite a few gay guys online..I wish I had a real gay friend in real life..

Anonymous said...

Sadly, T is quite right.

jun said...

well, i'm from malaysia. i'm gay but most of my friends are actually straight. and most of them are ok with it then of course there will be a couple which completely homophobic and will start bad mouthing behind one's back. i do think it is more about their own personal view towards homosexuality.

However, the most important is how to interact with them. as my straight group of friends totally despise a couple gay friends of mine because sometimes they would make same inappropriate gestures (too intimacy) towards those straight friends or ask them to sleep with them. which for sure will get the reaction from the straight guys to ask them to 'fuck off'. Oh they do really despise drag though.

Sir Wobin said...

T's attitude to oriental culture is quite passive. There's nothing magical about the culture we live in that makes it accepting of gay people.

Within living memory the British and US police were investigating crimes of homosexuality then publically humiliating our community with court trials and offering plea bargains if lovers would inform on one another. In retrospect it is totally abhorent that the state would intervene in private lives in this way but it did.

Until we stopped them. It started with a riot at Stonewall and keeps pushing back the boundary with every gay pride parade. Every time we can confidently express who we really are in public, to family and friends makes us acceptable.

Asian culture hasn't had it's own Stonewall. I expect T will find it hard to shake his current attitudes until he decides that he wants his culture to accept him. To do that, he has to be willing to make his family and friends accept who he is. He doesn't have to do it on his own. There are just as many gay Asian men who are hungry for that change in their cultures as there are gay Western men who enjoy the freedoms our culture now offers us.

Viva la revolution!

A-Philosophical said...

I believe BF T is quite an assertive person!


Anonymous said...

I believe that the problem you are addressing here is far more related to the possibly socially and economically upward aiming cultural environment of your BF's than the fact that he and his friend are Asians.

Foreigners who come to the US, Europe or Britain and are trying to make a career want to make sure that all of their aces are covered. They have to be quite a bit "better" than the local people in order to be able to impress everyone else with their success. Having friends who do NOT belong to the mainstream, and thus, do not fit into the "ideal picture" is often perceived as detrimental to their own success.

Anonymous said...

Living in Asia, I think it's quite different from country to country. When I most casually bring up the topic with straight Koreans, they may totally freeze or even be shaking in disgust - on the other hand, straight Taiwanese go "so what?" and treat it like wearing bleached hair. So it's quite possible that for his particular country, BF T is right and there still is a problem. But it is encouraging that at least some Asian cultures are opening up! :-)

Stairs said...

As another person who hails from Malaysia, I'd second Jun's suggestion that many people don't really give a toss either way. Whilst the official line is illegality, marked by occasional raids on gay bars (totally symbolic), a lot of people really don't care, though the country is one in which discretion is preferred - that applies to straight people too. The Malays probably have a tougher time of it on the religious front, whereas the Chinese Malays face more family image pressures; ultimately, it may balance out, but all of my gay friends in Malaysia are generally openly known as such. My frame of reference is KL, the capital; go to the hinterlands, though, and I'm sure it's no better than the American mid-west, which can be pretty horrific.

Reuben said...

Hey there, I'm Malaysian too, and out and proud at Uni in London.

If T is afraid to come out to his Asian colleague, he has to realize that his decision to stay closeted only reinforces the situation that he's in. He can't expect straight guys, Asian or not, to accept him unless he's ready to take that leap of faith and be who he is. Coming out, at least there's a chance of changing people's perceptions and of acceptance. Staying closeted achieves nothing.

It's like Gandhi said, "be the change you want to see in the world".

And T: seriously-lah! ppl don't care as much as u might think about your sexuality.

Shawn L said...

I think ultimately it depends on how you carry yourself, your interaction with your friends. So far most of my friends are really acceptive towards my sexuality (knock, knock) I am not so sure their attitudes will be the same if I am more steretype gay though.

Anonymous said...

Come out, come out, wherever you are ....

If you live in London or any big Western city, I can't believe anyone is still in the closet. Your ethnic group doesn't matter. Find people of all ethnic races to accept you and make them your family.

Say "No!" to hate and ignorance. Or stay in the closet, be miserable and let other people, and how you THINK they will react, control you.

Isn't it time to grow up?

A-Philosophical said...


...Now in our culture we have been trained for individual differences to stand out, so you look at each person and immediately it's brighter, dumber, older, younger, richer, poorer and we make all of these dimensional distinctions, put them in categories and treat them that way. And we get so that we only see others as separate from ourselves, in the ways in which they're separate and one of the dramatic characteristics of experience is being with another person and suddenly seeing the ways in which they are like you, not different from you, and experiencing the fact that which is essence in you, and which is essence in me, is indeed ONE, the understanding that there is no other, it is all one.
I wasn't born Richard Albert, I was just born as a human being and then I was TAUGHT and learned this whole business of who I am and whether I'm good or bad or achieving or not, and all of that is learned along the way." (DR. RICHARD ALBERT)

Anonymous said...

I think most Asians who come to Western countries and hang around with Westerners seem OK with it.

When I lived in HK, I went back in the closet. While some people there don't care too much, especially if they've been abroad, some people absolutely hate the idea.

One of my friends thought it was the worst thing possible and reconsidered even talking to another Westerner he found out was gay. Another said simply "I cannot accept this".

Most people just ignore it even if it's obvious - I remember some gaybashing tho. The benefit of HK people is everyone minds their own business to an extent.

However, some are more liberal than you might imagine. One of my friends said he didn't mind and went to a gay club with a gay friend - until he saw two guys having sex in a toilet. Hell, even Hong Kong University has a gay literature open course.

So I think the attitude in HK is conservative but not overly so.

Anonymous said...

I am a middle-aged gay guy from the Philippines. The problem I have in my country is that when one says "Gay", the image that comes to the mind of the average Joe is that of an effeminate, hip-swaying man.

The other prevalent image of a gay man is that of an effeminate guy being buggered by a macho, tattooed guy. The macho guy will never be called gay only because he was the one doing the buggering.

If you are straight-acting and straight-looking, no one will call you gay until they actually see you sucking c*cks or being buggered...

the immigayrant said...

An Indonesian here...

I haven't told too many straight Indonesians that I'm gay. I guess generally most of them, esp guys, have negative attitude towards gays.

I once said in a discussion that if I lived in USA, I'd choose SF to live. An male Indonesian friend said "But that place is full of gays." with surprise and disgust. I guess he didn't know I was one. Hahaha!

Timo said...

I resonate with silverrrcloud's comments - how my colleagues perceive my sexuality is definitely more important to me and where I'd like to be in life than, say, a distant politician or passerby who has a more remote chance of affecting me.