Unimaginable Desires: Gay Relationships in Thailand

Singhakowinta, Jaray. 2010. Unimaginable Desires: Gay Relationships in Thailand. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

thesis_Singhakowinta_2010.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (18MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis aims to locate male same-sex relations in Thai public discourses in order to understand how the homoeroticism has been placed outside the legitimate realm in the Thai sex/gender system, irrespective of Thailand's global image of being a 'gay paradise' and the considerable tolerance of homosexuality in Thai society. Borrowing from Foucault's notion of power relations, this research examines a range of popular and academic resources to uncover discursive power relations in the construction of homosexual identities in Thailand. It also highlights the constant interaction between homo-minority and hetero-majority within the public space. Drawn from diverse sources, this thesis explores the institutionalisation of periphery status of non-normative gender and sexual identities and how they appeared in Thai historical and religious discourses as well as the recent representation of gay and kathoey identities in the Thai mainstream media. This thesis also includes empirical data from interviews with twelve Thai gay-identified participants, conducted between 2003 and 2008. The inclusion of lived experiences of interviewees offers insights into their subjectivation with the label gay, arguably remaining problematic in accordance with the Thai sex/gender paradigm and particularly the contextual sensitivity or kalathesa. This research draws attention to discursive power relations in Thai gay men's implicit negotiation of their same-sex validity within the heteronormative framework. The combined analyses of personal narratives of research participants and Thai language queer films, i.e. Satri Lek (2000 - The Iron Ladies) and Sat Pralat (2004 - Tropical Malady), respectively, provide the critical understanding of Thai gay men's strategically viable compromise of their political project for social acceptance. The thesis acknowledges that Thai gay men's politics of negotiation has substantially opened up a discussion for social acceptance of homosexuality, but has unwittingly hindered a full social dialogue regarding the materialisation of equality for people with non-normative gender and sexual identities.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



gender, sexuality, Thailand, same-sex relations, media, queer films

Departments, Centres and Research Units:




Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Jul 2020 10:53

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:51



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)