Beyond Str8tus Quo: Urbanization and Queerness in Tropical Southeast Asia

Yvette Yanwen Lim


In response to the International Day of the Tropics, I have chosen to focus on the relationship between urbanization, space and bodies in tropical Southeast Asia. Through an analysis of films from the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, I argue that urbanization continues to perpetuate heteronormativity and patriarchy even as economic indicators show human progress in measurable terms. The trajectory of progress towards diversity and inclusion in tropical Southeast remains fraught with challenges, especially when we examine how bodies interact with spaces and continue to observe oppression and restriction of non-normative expressions and performances. The questions that guide this paper are related to the relationships between urbanization, bodies and sexuality, and how these are articulated in spaces. Queer spaces include those of contests and contestation, of impermanence and transgression, and of malls and borders.

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