13 September 2005

The death of Gwen Araujo

It's very strange to be in Thailand, reading about the killing of a transwoman in America, because so many of the issues in the case just wouldn't exist here.

I remember reading in a guidebook that there was no gay "scene" in Thailand — not because there were no homosexuals here, but because homosexuality was so well-integrated into Thai life that there was no need for a "scene". And from what I've seen, that's mostly true. You see homosexuals and cross-dressers everywhere here from shop clerks to executives. And while you might remark on someone's being gay, it seems to carry little more emotional weight than remarking on how fat they are.

And so the talk of "gay panic" is hard for Thais to understand. When I said that it had been claimed as a defense in murder cases in the US, I was asked, "So, it's OK to murder someone if you really, really hate them?" I tried to explain that it was put forward as a form of temporary insanity, but I wasn't very effective as an advocate. My heart just wasn't in it. Thank god.

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