Utopia Guide to Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia : the Gay and Lesbian Scene in 60+ Cities Including Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Johor Bahru and the Islands of Bali and Penang
SINGAPORE, April 21 2006: Which country is home to Asia’s fastest growing openly homosexual sub-culture? Would you believe tiny Singapore? With more than 30 openly gay businesses in the tourist-friendly Chinatown neighborhood alone, Singaporean
entrepreneurs are feeling free enough to fuel a huge boom in the city-state’s pink economy.
But which country do gay Singaporean’s think has the hottest scene going? They point to their neighbor, Malaysia. Indeed, though still largely underground, Malaysia’s gays and lesbians have a steadily growing number of restaurants, clubs, spas and gyms that
openly welcome them and world-class venues are popping up in even small cities like Penang and Kota Kinabalu.
Singapore’s other neighbor, Indonesia, while commonly known as having the world’s largest Muslim population, also has some of Asia’s longest-running homosexual activist groups and a wide variety of traditional alternative sexualities that are an integral part of Indonesia’s cultural mosaic.
The Utopia Guide to Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia reveals for the first time in print the fascinating and variegated queer lifestyle of these countries in one hefty volume filled with a surprising wealth of information. Listed within are contact details for organizations and businesses that are popular with both local and visiting homosexuals, including accommodation, 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 visitors and armchair explorers.
Commenting on the surprising abundance of gay life in a very conservative region, Singaporean gay activist, Alex Au, writes in the book’s preface, “The reason for this contradiction may be because, despite the political or religious rhetoric, at the social level, the people of these countries are tolerant and hospitable.”
Indonesia’s first gay pride celebration took place in Surabaya, on June 25, 1999. Singapore’s first public festival, Indignation, took place during the month of Aug in 2005 and is set to repeat this year with expanded activities and a higher profile.
But despite growing advances in personal freedoms, activists in all three countries continue to encounter official obstacles. In 2006 Singapore government officials awarded a large grant of public money to a homophobic Christian group that attempts to straighten out gays. In March this year Kuala Lumpur police tried to crack down on businesses that cater to gay customers by fining owners for petty license violations, bringing criticism from local AIDS/HIV educators.
The Utopia Guide to Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia provides a remarkable insider’s glimpse at the vibrant, everyday life enjoyed by gays and lesbians in Southeast Asia.
The book is available for sale now in printed and electronic form at http://www.utopia-asia.com/utopiaguide/ and will also be available in bookstores internationally and from popular online book resellers in May.
A pioneer on the Internet, Utopia has been Asia’s most popular resource for gays and lesbians since 1994. Utopia’s website is located at http://www.utopia-asia.com and more information about Utopia may be found at http://www.utopia-asia.com/utopiais.htm
“These fun pages dish out the spice on even the most buttoned-up spots in Asia.” — TIME Magazine TIME Traveler
“A really good place to start looking for information… excellent coverage of gay and lesbian events and activities across Asia.” — Lonely Planet