Close Encounters of the Authentic Kind: Exploring Love, Sex and Intimacy among Gay-Identifying Malaysian Men

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Punks, Monks and Politics

Punks, Monks and Politics

Goh, J. N. (2016). Close encounters of the authentic kind: Exploring the meaning-making of love, sex and intimacy among gay-identifying Malaysian men. In J. C. H. Lee & M. Ferrarese (Eds.), Punks, monks and politics: Authenticity in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia (pp. 47–64). London: Rowman & Littlefield International.


This chapter focuses on personal realities that speak to notions of authenticity among gay-identifying Malaysian men in their meaning-making of love, sex and intimacy. I aim towards an appraisal of the life experiences and circumstances of such men in dialogue with the religio-political and sociocultural logic in Malaysia that vehemently repudiates such subjectivities as inauthentic reproductions of ‘Western’ invention in contradistinction with ‘real Asian’ values. As I focus on the dynamics of abjection and inner strife that besiege gay-identifying men by virtue of their sexual proclivities, I also investigate processes of agency and empowerment in resisting accusations of ersatz sexual subjectivity. This chapter is based on a larger qualitative research project on the sexual identifyings, sexual practices and faith negotiations of non-heteronormative Malaysian men. Data from face-to-face interviews were collated and analysed using a constructivist Grounded Theory Methodology and assisted by extant queer theoretical frameworks in order to construct a contextually-relevant queer sexual theory and theology based on lived experiences. In this chapter, I use queer methodologies to investigate the conceptualisations of love, sex and intimacy in selected narratives of five gay-identifying men. Utilising a constructivist Grounded Theory Methodology and aided by queer hermeneutics, I perform a closer inspection of these conceptualisations in order to theorise on intersections of authenticity and love, sex and intimacy. While notions of authenticity may not be explicitly articulated, the intricate meaning-makings of love, sex and intimacy in their narratives convey a “search for the authentic self … the pursuit of inner comprehension, self-acceptance, and a method of self-articulation (Goh, 2014, p. 133). My findings suggest that the meaning-making of love, sex and intimacy constitutes highly nuanced self-understandings of authenticity among gay-identifying Malaysian men.


Key Words

authenticity, gay-identifying men, intimacy, love, queer theory, sex


Goh, J. N. (2014). Transgressive empowerment: Queering the spiritualities of the mak nyahs of PT Foundation. In H. Córdova Quero, J. N. Goh, & M. S. Campos (Eds.), Queering migrations towards, from, and beyond Asia (pp. 123–137). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


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