Discover more from Queer Lore: a POC perspective on LGBTQ history and folklore
LGBTQ+ people in traditional and contemporary Southeast Asia
List of books and articles about TGNC people in pre-colonial / indigenous SEA cultures. List of stories about LGBTQ+ lives in contemporary SEA nations, in print and film.
TGNC people in native Southeast Asian traditions
Asog/Bayog/Bayoguin in Tagalog and Visayan societies (pre-colonial Philippines)
The Babaylan and Katalonan (shamans in the Visayan and Tagalog regions) were female, but were sometimes trans women (also called Bayoguin or Asog) who were assigned male at birth, but appeared to identify – and were socially accepted – as female.
in pre-colonial Tagalog society, the bayoguin or bayog were well-respected men who cross-dressed and held prominent religious positions, much like the babaylan. They were documented in the Boxer Codex (also known as the Manila Manuscript) from the perspective of its Spanish authors. The text continues that the bayoguin… married other men.
Documents dating back to the 16th century during Spanish colonization allude to people known as, among other things, “asog”: men who assumed the appearance and behavior of women to …
For all practical purposes, they were treated as women, and they married and had sexual relations with men …
“One who becomes a man” and “One who becomes a woman” in the Teduray ethnic group of Mindanao, Philippines
In the Teduray language, “mentefuwaley” means “one who becomes,” and “libun” means “woman,” so mentefuwaley libun means “one who becomes a woman.” Schlegel wrote that he also met a man who was born a woman, a mentefuwaley lagey.
Five genders in the Bugis ethnic group of South Sulawesi, Indonesia
The Bugis are the largest ethnic group in South Sulawesi, numbering around three million people… Their language offers five terms referencing various combinations of sex, gender and sexuality: makkunrai (“female women”), oroani (“male men”), calalai (“female men”), calabai (“male women”) and bissu (“transgender priests”)...
Lengger Lanang dancers of Java, Indonesia
Lengger lanang is a folk dance originating from Banyumas, Central Java, that is performed by male dancers dressed as women. It is originally the community’s way of expressing gratitude for the harvest, a tradition that has existed and developed for a long time in the said regency. Unfortunately, lengger is now on the verge of extinction due to society’s increased stigma against the LGBT+ community.
Contemporary LGBTQ+ lives in Southeast Asia
Tom and Dee culture in Thailand
In the past, women in Thailand who were attracted to other women were simply considered 'men', and so the term 'tomboy' was adopted in the 70s to solve the problem of how to describe them… tomboys … don't identify as men.
Kathoey in Thailand
Kathoey: I’m Not a Boy, Not Yet a Woman? (Fiona Ng, UC Davis)
Waria In Indonesia
Bakla/bayot/agi in the Philippines
Variously translated as “drag queen,” “gay,” “hermaphrodite,” “homosexual,” “queer,” “third sex,” and “transgender,” bakla shows how in the Philippines, as in many places around the world, gender and sexuality are imagined and lived out in connection with concepts and categories that Western lenses can’t fully account for…
Malaysia and Singapore
Contemporary Southeast Asian queer stories
“An anthology of works of short fiction from Southeast Asia that reclaim indigenous magic and LGBTQIA+ identity.”
“The idea to write about making the hero a mambabarang in pre-Hispanic Philippines comes from how women and LGBTQIA+ identities were vilified by our colonizers… LGBTQIA+ identities were not marginalized as they are now…”
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