Sun, Sep 12, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Gay Asia gets the hook-up

The cheap and anonymous Internet has been a great enabler of gay culture, say the authors of 'Mobile Cultures'

By Bradley Winterton  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Japan generally provides much absorbing material for these academic analysts. The existence of a huge female audience there for boy-love stories is only one case in point. Beautiful young deaths (as in the instance above) are also a national specialism. The implication of youths too perfect ever to grow up has, of course, its parallels in the West, but even so the emotional tone and the kind of interest aroused -- yearning for one's own lost youth in the West, whimsical and aesthetic fascination in Japan -- are very different.

Also strikingly different are some Japanese sexual fantasies, as witnessed here by a few small-scale reproductions from comic strips. Views from inside the body outwards appear to be particular favorites with these artists.

There are many variations across the region. One writer states that his interviewees in Indonesia were unlikely to be on-line because 90 percent of them earned US$60 a month or less. The Internet provides contacts, but only if they have electricity (and, even less likely, access to a computer). And in Singapore, described as a modern state with strongly puritan characteristics, much attention is given to a gay Web site with the seductive name "Yawning Bread."

Cellphones are also included in these writers' briefs but don't get much attention. The editors regret the absence of any analysis of Manila's unique gay text-messaging argot in their pages.

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