Eastern Girls and Boys: Mapping Lesbian and Gay Languages in Kuala Lumpur

Author: Michael Hadzantonis (Independant Scholar)
Speaker: Michael Hadzantonis
Topic:Gender and Sexuality
CALA 2019 General Session


Lesbian and gay communities in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, evidence unique and highly localized language practices, influenced by the specific organization and appropriation of a variety of social and cultural factors and networks. A hybridity and restylizing of Islamic, Confucianist, neoliberal, and transnational discourses significantly shape these communities, thus providing a lens through which to effect description of these speech communities.

This paper discusses language styles in lesbian and gay communities in Kuala Lumpur, and evidences that their language practices, language ideologies, and identities, are fostered and legitimized in culturally complex ways. These complexities become predicated on a specific reapropriation of transnational factors, sociocultural histories, and patriarchal standpoints, mediated by society at large. As such, the study explores and finds a significant bias across these two communities, in that the language practices specific to gay communities far exceed those of lesbian communities. These language practices are mediated by gendered practices and gendered differentials pervasive of larger Malaysian society.

Keywords:gay, lesbian, sexuality, transnationalism, Kuala Lumpur, Linguistic Anthropology