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Text: World Copyright
Martin Foreman

Copyright of pictures acknowledged where possible

Gay World: 1980 - 2011
People and Places, Films and Ideas
links in blue are to other websites


Doing Things Together
Ivory Coast
Shadows and Eye-Shadow


Twisted Romance

Beauty and the Beast
Beauties on the Beach
Gay Brazil 2011

Down and Out in the Dufferin

Costa Rica
Valentina in the Streets and Lila in the house

Cabaret Tito

A Badass Virus


Whose disciples? and other thoughts on the male nude

Stepping Back in Time

Erastes and Eromenos
Sunday Morning
At an angle to the universe
Nikolas and Nikos

Buddha Died At Eighty Turning Down A Natty

Asian Gay Film

Confessions of a Karaoke Singer
A Market and a Mosque

Karen homophobia

Borsorbor at the Golden Banana

East Timor
Down in Dili

Pink Pages

The Bubble

Azure Love in Gion
Drinking in Shinjuku

Japanese gay films
Angel in the Toilet
Fighting Delinquents
Naughty Boys

Korean gay films

Gay Life in Laos 2010

Blue Diamonds in Kathmandu

My grandmother is ill
Macho Dancer

Chiang Mai
Fang Mook
Gay Films
Sex, Younger and More Often
Son of a Beach
Spirit, Monk, Woman
Table Dancing in Bangkok
Young Thais, Changing Ties

Between Men
Condoms & HIV
Faces of Love
Gay's the Word?
HIV, fences and condoms
Homosexualities, HAM & Hivos
Males, Men & MSM
Shivananda Khan is a Real Man

Gay Films
London LGBT Festival 2010

Updated 3 July 2011

Azure Love in Gion: According to Google, there are one - maybe two - gay bars in Kyoto. According to those who live in the city, there are sixteen.
read on...
2.5c = 1e: The combination of cachaça (the local rum), sugar, ice and slices of lime is an instant and powerful mood-lifter. One glass puts the world to rights, restores one's energy and makes one handsome, generous and wise. The second glass confers omnipotence and the third glass, which should only be imbibed by experts, allows you to transcend existence and glimpse eternity.
read on...
The King and the Clown: Thus the relationship between Jang Saeng and Gong Gil that forms the heart of the film remains understated. We see the emotion that binds them, we see them sleep together but we never see them kiss or make love - and if we are wise, we do not want to do so. This is not a film about sex, but a film about love, and at the end of the day love always takes precedence.
read on...
Angel in the Toilet: In a dank and dirty public toilet loiters a semi-naked youth with tattered wings. From time to time, men enter, urinate and excrete, wash and leave, unaware of the figure watching them. Then a moustachoied figure in a tank top reaches out to him, to fuck him silently in one of the stalls. Lost in reverie, the angel grips his anonymous lover tightly.
read on...
Fang Mook: I was - perhaps naively - reluctant to offend Jom. Switch on the light, point to the lump, which I assumed was a wart, and ask him to leave? No, I couldn't do that. Instead of which, I whispered in his ear: "An-nee aray?" What's this?
read on...
Almost gay Isaan: Things looked up in Ubon, the capital of the province bordering both Cambodia and Laos. The two cute bellboys at the four-star Lai Thong Hotel, who both insisted on delivering our two small bags to our room, smiled politely at me and complicitly at the Squeeze. The waiter in the Chinese-Japanese restaurant was also young, good-looking and friendly.
read on...
My grandmother is ill: His beloved grandmother - the one who brought him up while his parents worked abroad - has suffered a stroke. The hospital won't treat her unless the family come up with $750 downpayment. He has $300 of his money - the $150 I sent him and the $150 he has saved - and the family has come up with another $150. They still need another $300. Can I send it?
read on...
Macho dancer: My eyes were certainly glued to the screen by the long sequences in which one, two or more cute young men rubbed up against each other near-naked (that full-frontal is the exception rather than the rule). It was only in the second half of the film that both a plot and a serious social message appear.
read on...
London: There is longing and hurt in her eyes. I take her hand and kiss it. Then I lean forward and gently kiss her cheek as I tell her how soft she is - it is not a lie - and how much I love her above all others in the world. And while I say the words, that statement is also true. read on...
Love of Siam: The basic story is simple. Hitman Mek is hired to kill It but is unconvinced of the need to do so. After a shoot-out with his employer's men, the wounded Mek and It hide out in a rooftop shack. Cue tender bathing. Cue sexual intercourse. Cue wondering-about-one's-sexual-identity. read on...
Berlin: On top of buildings, lining bridges and in fountains, adonises can be seen fighting, dying, wrestling, relaxing, cavorting and dreaming in postures that display their anatomies to their best advantage, and usually at an angle which allows the viewer to contemplate their every asset (and frontet). read on...
Paris: An exotic, pastoral scene. A long-haired, long-bearded man in his thirties in a white robe is lecturing, in a manner that is firm but kind, to an informal group of twelve young men, all of whom are listening intently. Most of the students are naked; the others are draped by cloth that will shortly fall to the ground. read on...
Amsterdam, Netherlands: It's twenty-five years since doctors in Los Angeles and New York first diagnosed rare strains of pneumonia and skin tumours in a few of their homosexual patients. The diseases resisted treatment and were symptomatic of an immune failure that led to death within weeks or months. It took eighteen months for the news to reach the scientific press - a few paragraphs in the US government-published Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in June 1981. By the end of that year it was clear that a new disease was affecting increasing numbers of gay men in the United States. AIDS had arrived. read on...
Chiang Rai, Thailand: Way up at the northern tip of Thailand, where it leans against Laos and Burma and where you can follow the Mekong a few miles upstream into China, lies the rural province of Chiang Rai. Narrow roads wind over rolling green hills where only a few years ago opium was the primary cash crop. Most of the harvest has moved over the border into Burma but here and there relics remain, like the expensive houses scattered amongst villages, faded posters from the Thai government's War on Drugs and the Opium Museum in the town of Sop Ruak, which both honours and denigrates the world's most famous drug. read on...
Bangkok, Thailand: There we were, more than a hundred gay men from across the world at the International AIDS Conference in July. It was the middle of the afternoon and we were commenting on a statement of principles for HIV interventions for men who have sex with men. Many of us knew each other from years of such conferences and working together and the atmosphere was relaxed. In the chair, mediating between the floor and the panel who had drafted the statement, was Shivananda Khan, the doyen of HIV activism in South Asia. Shiv is one of nature's aristocrats; in a previous life he was surely a princess, both decorative and functional, the power behind the throne as her maharajah dallied in the harem. read on...
Dili, East Timor: Okay, I admit defeat. There is no way I can fill a column on gay life in this town. It's not there isn't any. It's just that there's so little of it. A leading global expert on HIV/AIDS (me) estimates that in the East Timorese capital, which has about 120,000 inhabitants, about 1,500 - 3,000 men have sex with men. Perhaps 100 of these is willing to admit it or is so camp that he doesn't even need to open his mouth, and on any one night, about 15 are going to put on their best clothes and head into for the town's night spots. Which means that gay life here isn't exactly vibrant. read on...
Sylhet, Bangladesh: It's eight o'clock in the evening and Tarique and Paritosh are taking me out to look at the cruising spots. Until I flew in here this afternoon, all I knew of this provincial city and the surrounding area was that it was where most of the Bangladeshis in the UK come from - and since most of the Bangladeshis in the UK live in my home borough of Tower Hamlets, I feel a kind of affinity with the place. Whether or not Sylhet feels an affinity with me is a different matter. read on...
Siem Reap, Cambodia: What, I asked Phearum, was the transliteration of the Khmer term for a man / men who love(s) men (Khmer is one of the lucky languages that doesn't have a plural form.) He took a pen and my notepad and wrote boros sralanh boros. It's very long, I said. Maybe it will be supplanted by "gay". He and Sophat shook their heads. "Gay" is too foreign, too suggestive of pretty girl. But boros sralanh boros doesn't trip off the tongue easily, I pointed out. read on...
Predictably, the love affair turned sour and Nok was soon on the streets. For the next two months he sold himself, finding foreigners more willing to pay than the Dutch. And with money in his pocket and an itch in his pants he went to sex clubs and ingested various drugs. A week before he came home, high on ecstasy, he allowed himself to be gang-banged in a dark room. It was painful and there was blood but he did not regret it. When we met, the pain had gone but the blood was intermittent. read on...
Bangkok, Thailand: Some DVDs fall out of Son's suitcase. Mother picks them up and is shocked to see that they are pornography. Father angrily attacks son. Mother - a squat overweight figure in garish black make-up, a purple bikini-top under which balloons of silicon gel wobble and a long blue towel over men's shorts - defends her offspring by executing a perfect martial arts high kick against Father's head. Son escapes and the rest of the room collapses in laughter. read on...
All these words focused on the sex of the partner, not on what the two partners did together. Thus although English-speakers were usually aware of sexual roles - the idea that one partner in a same-sex relationship assumes an "active" "insertive", "top" or "masculine" role while the other is "passive" / "receptive / bottom" or "feminine" - these roles were not critical to a gay or lesbian identity. read on...
Bangkok, Thailand: I wondered where people danced; by the end of the evening I had my answer. Each couple or group dance at their table, as enthusiastically as in any nightclub where the floor is clear. So why the tables? I asked my friend. Because Sake probably doesn't have a dance licence, he suggested. Oh, I said, aware that table-dancing had suddenly acquired a whole new meaning. read on...
Some people who work in HIV/AIDS say that they speak for MSM; they don't; no-one can. They talk about the MSM community; there isn't one. They talk about having an MSM identity; they can't. MSM leads people down the same mistaken path that gay did - it reduces the variety of men who have sex with men to a single identity and a single response. read on...
While some have no goal beyond whatever money they can negotiate with their clients, many are hoping for a lifelong commitment. Take me to Europe or the United States, they whisper with their eyes to likely candidates; give me a home, buy me clothes, send me to college, buy me a car, and I will devote my life to you. I will even tell you I love you. And if truth resides in hope and intention rather than provable fact, then such love is indeed often true. read on...
Sex between men is a phenomenon as old as history. In ancient China, it was called the Love of the Cut Sleeve, after an emperor who cut off the sleeve of his robe rather than wake his male partner who was sleeping on it. In ancient Greece and mediaeval Japan warriors took teenage boys as lovers. In many North American tribes men who dressed and lived as women spent their lives with other men. Mediaeval Arab literature has many examples of poetry and stories of men who made love to younger men.
read on...
Tokyo, Japan: I have never been to Japan before and I'm not particularly looking forward to this trip. No-one there speaks English; the Japanese are racist. Just getting from one appointment to another is going to be a major hassle. I'll get lost and no-one will help me. And I'll starve for the five days I am there because I won't be able to order anything in a restaurant. Prejudices; where would we be without them?
read on...
Abidjan, Ivory Coast: June 1998. It is the rainy season, but despite the band of cloud stretching across the CNN weather map from Cameroon to the middle of the Atlantic, it hasn't rained once since I arrived. Hubert and I wander through the Intercontinental Hotel d'Ivoire, its air-conditioned comfort almost successful in its imitation of its Northern brothers. Certainly it is more luxurious than the Novotel where I am staying, where the humidity in my room crinkles the papers of the report that Hubert and I are writing and threatens to short-circuit my laptop.
read on...
Mexico City: I have three companions this Friday night in the centre of the city: Adriana from Ecuador, a lawyer with a loud voice and dark orange hair who insists she is at the head of every demonstration that demands women's rights, Livia, a journalist from So Paulo, Brazil, in her late twenties, tall and thin, Rebecca, also Brazilian, dumpy and middle-aged, director of communications in a family planning organisation. We have been colleagues in a seminar on sexual health which closed earlier in the day; now, in the upbeat mood that only a good meal and several glasses of wine can instil, we are looking for the Cabaret Tito - a pun on "Little Cabaret" and the owner's name - and the promise of a two hour drag show. read on...
San José, Costa Rica. "You know the best way to recognise a successful hustler in San Jos?" asks Antonio. "He has an earring, a walkman, Reeboks or Filas and a backpack. The backpack is very important. It shows that his latest customer is Canadian. Canadians are very popular; the boys find them younger and much more attractive than Americans. It's every boy's dream that a rich Canadian will fall in love with him and take him back to Toronto. Of course if the Canadian is not only rich but attractive the boy really has struck gold." read on...
Vancouver, Canada. In the distant past it was a biker bar, then for a time lesbians took up residence (some prejudiced wits might say that nobody noticed the difference), but since the mid-1980s it has been mid-week home to gay men who are down on their luck or never had much luck in the first place. There are always a few Real Women and a few Drag Queens and most of the time it is easy to tell the difference. And while it tolerates no illegal drug use, many of its customers are familiar with chemical concoctions that William Burroughs, Aldous Huxley, Timothy O'Leary, Hunter S Thompson, and others would be happy to experiment with.  read on...
Dhaka, Bangladesh. The first day of my first visit to this sprawling, impoverished city. My contact, a Filipino, has invited me for a meal. In a karaoke restaurant. A Thai karaoke restaurant. I have never been in a karaoke restaurant before, of any nationality, and I do not want to be here now. After a fourteen-hour flight and a six-hour time change, the only place I want to be is in bed. But Fernando and I are to be colleagues and I have not the heart to plead jet-lag. read on...
Pattaya, Thailand Nin was followed by Nan, equally thin but well-defined, in blue shorts rather than green slip and with jewellery where Nin had none. Nan was older, we would learn, twenty-six to Nin's twenty-one. He was less good-looking, with too prominent lips and teeth and his voice was louder and higher pitched. But he was welcome and it was not long before he invited himself onto my lap. read on...
Asmara, Eritrea Friday evening in a windowless room in the Intercontinental Hotel. A reception for the local development bigwigs at the end of a week in which colleagues and I have been working with local journalists, hoping to improve their coverage of HIV/AIDS. About sixty people, half white expatriates, half local Eritreans. Speeches are made, drinks are drunk and snacks are snuck. Some people leave, others replenish their glasses. read on...
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil The tail-end of the Rio Carnival, two in the morning at the Galeria Alaska, haunt of drag queens, hustlers and those too tired to party on. A hot night, when even a t-shirt is too close and the only sensible clothing is the gold make-up and white loincloth of a passing reveler. read on...
Kathmandu, Nepal Over the last eighteen months, as night falls, Sunil and his colleagues have regularly visited Ratna Park in the centre of Kathmandu, Nepal. They are there not to take the evening air - which is frequently heavily polluted in the Himalayan valley in which it nestles - but to talk to some of the shadowy figures loitering there.
read on...
London, UK Half past ten on a Friday evening in autumn. I'm sitting at a pavement table in Soho, watching the world go by. The world is mostly gay and mostly young, couples sauntering, groups gossiping, singles looking for old or new friends. read on...
West Hollywood, California A bar on a quiet stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, where hustlers, johns and the curious hang out. The decor bright and bare, the pool table used, the pinball machines standing idle and the bartender serving clients with the bored efficiency that comes with middle-age. The hustlers not as young as you expect hustlers to be, and the johns not as rich; both in tight, faded polyester. Mingling freely and sometimes the only way to distinguish one from the other is to see who buys the drinks. read on...

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