In the Western popular imagination, Bangkok is a “gay paradise,” a city that affords cheap and easy access to exotic “boys.” This reputation for sex tourism as well as a local cultural tolerance for homosexuality and transgenderism is a common representation of queer Bangkok in English-language media. This article juxtaposes Thai media and lived experience to displace, recontextualize, and expand the prevailing Western view. It argues that Western gazes that depict Thailand as especially tolerant of homosexuality and gender variance may in fact inhibit the free expression of Thai male-bodied effeminacy. Finally, this article argues that the hypersexualization of Thais and new regional alignments are molding local desires and subjectivities away from the West toward East Asia.

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