My life thus far has been an amazing journey, and I believe it will continue to be so. I was born in Malaysia into a predominantly Chinese family. Upon completing elementary education, I was further schooled in the area of philosophy, theology and practical ministry. After obtaining two graduate degrees in theology in 2010 (Licentiate in Sacred Theology or S.T.L., and Master of Theology or Th.M.) from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University (JST), and doing some important academic and theological work at the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) in Berkeley, CA, I soon came to a realisation that I had to be true to myself, on multiple levels, even if it meant defying structures and concepts that were not life-giving and moving out of my comfort zones.
After careful consideration, I decided in 2010 to depart from two decades of religious life, and a decade of ordained ministry in the Roman Catholic institution. Nevertheless, recognising that holy orders is a gift bestowed by God and cherishing the many qood qualities of Catholicism, I decided to transfer my clergy credentials to a non-Roman, Catholic jurisdiction. I am now fully incardinated into the North American Catholic Ecumenical Church (NACEC), which allows me to exercise new and diverse paradigms of sacred orders by ministering wherever I am needed, engaging in gainful, self-supporting employment and forging a committed relationship.
In 2015, I earned a doctoral degree (Ph.D. in Arts) from Monash University, Malaysia, with a specialisation in gender, sexuality and theology. I am currently a lecturer in gender and sexuality studies at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Malaysia. I continue to devote my life to working with and for human rights issues that concern minority groups and the disenfranchised – notably sexual minorities (also known as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex and queer persons, or LGBTIQ) and issues of HIV – through pursuits such as academic publications, public speaking, written reflections, education and teaching, forming friendships and networks, and various other forms of ministry.
My vision is not simply to provide pastoral assistance, but to assist in affirmative and celebrative theological and liturgical support for LGBTIQ communities, and People Living with HIV. I identify as a queer, interfaith Christian man. By professing to be queer as an adjective rather than a noun, I identify as “a dissident who professes queerness in the contravention and resistance of an uncritical and a herd-like congruence to translucent, normalising and facile identities of gender, sexuality, citizenry, ethnicity and religious affiliation, and who constantly mines his own life experiences for traces of God.” As an interfaith Christian, I acknowledge and see the presence of the Divine in every religious and spiritual tradition, in human lives, communities and stories, and in sexual, bodily experiences, especially among sexual minorities. I try to see God present in a human person even before I ask him or her what his or her religious beliefs are, or even if he or she has no religious beliefs. I am more than eager to learn from people’s notions of life and faith, and I am convinced that those notions will help me to become a better human person. Hence, what I have set out as my purpose in life is for me nothing less than a Divine vocation.
“Still, I must be faithful to my life; must hold on tightly to the bundle that I carry along as a travel companion; all the hurt, the sweet, the sour, the searing. For my promises are at one with my mind and heart; and they are sincere; and they have meaning and value for me. Of course the road is quite difficult now, and so interminably long. Sometimes my heart is easily sad and easily happy … but this is my life. My life has its risings; it has its falls” (Lin Fang-ju , Dialogue with Life, 1995)
“If you don’t make the choice /And you don′t use your voice / Someone else will speak for you instead / What you want is just within your reach / But you gotta practice what you preach / You pay with sweat and tears / And overcome your fears / Never let the fire inside you leave” (Madonna, Iconic, 2015)
 Joseph N. Goh, “Nyah–Islam: The Reconstruction of God and Institutional Islam by Malaysian Male-to-Female Transsexuals,” in God’s image 31, no. 2 (December 2012): 33–44.
Ph.D. in Arts, with a specialisation in gender, sexuality and theology (Monash University, Malaysia)
Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) in systematic theology (Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, Berkeley, California, USA), with an emphasis in sacramental theology and liturgical inculturation.
Master in Theology (Th.M.) in systematic theology, with an emphasis in sacramental theology and liturgical inculturation.
ORCID ID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5442-6785
joseph [at] josephgoh [dot] org
joseph [dot] goh [at] monash [dot] edu
Queer Asian Spirit (2012-2015)