This article proposes a historically and movement-wise contextualized reading of Pai Hsien-yung's Crystal Boys, known as the first “gay” novel in Taiwan. As the novel was taken up as a signifier in the new tongzhi politics in 1990s Taiwan, the article shows, its legacy as a historical representation of male prostitution culture was left out entirely. Through genealogical investigation, the article argues that tongzhi politics and subjectivity as articulated through Crystal Boys is founded upon the normative exclusion of the gendered prostitute subject and that such a repudiation is complicit with the dominant moral-sexual order upheld by Taiwan's state culture. In querying this limiting continuity, this artcile demonstrates in particular that the novel represents a particular “state affect” of gendered sexual shame linked to prostitution, a shame that later came to be displaced by the emerging tongzhi_movement through its political praxis of “coming out.” By tracing the trajectory of identity formation process via the (re)articulation of Crystal Boys, this paper thus highlights the centrality of prostitution in the state production of heteronormativity in Taiwan as it argues for a queer politics that critically engages that normative condition.

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