This book depicts gay paradises in Southeast Asia and the men who created them. It studies the obstacles gay men have faced in securing a voice as citizens, and how they used images of paradise in Bali, Bangkok, and Singapore to create a sense of refuge, construct homes for themselves, and dissent from typical notions of manhood and masculinity. For gender studies and Southeast Asian studies, it provides a "queer reading" of Walter Spies, a gay German painter who in the 1930s helped turn Bali into an island imagined as an ideal male aesthetic state. Secondly, the book provides a historical account of the absorption of Western notions of romantic heterosexual monogamy in Thailand during the reign of King Rama VI and the resistance to those notions expressed through an architectural paradise called Babylon founded by a Thai known as Khun Toc. Finally, it describes the "cyber-paradise" of Fridae.com created by a young Singaporean named Stuart Koe. Collectively, the study examines the pursuit of sexual justice, the ideologies of manhood they challenged, and the geographic and online spaces they created.
Gary L. Atkins is a professor of communication at Seattle University in the United States. A literary journalist and scholar, he specializes in gay media and communication issues, as well as in freedom of expression law. His previous book, Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging, was published by the University of Washington Press in 2003 and received numerous accolades for its scholarship and quality of writing.