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Synopsis

In this moving autobiography, Daniel Gawthrop writes about the politics and pleasures of being a self-identified “rice queen”: a gay man who is attracted to Asians. Navigating through the urban jungles of Western cities like Vancouver and London, as well as the humid streets of Bangkok and Hanoi, Daniel explores the multicultural minefields of sexuality and culture as he articulates the manners and contradictions of his desires.

The politics of race, and the unspoken rules of gay Asian culture in both Western and Eastern settings, underscore Daniel’s personal journey, in which he recalls his teen years spent idolizing Bruce Lee and his fixation on an Asian schoolmate whose hazing becomes a sexual spectacle for him. As he enters adulthood, his desires become manifest as he explores the subcultures of Long Yang Clubs (where gay Asians and “their admirers” can meet) before departing for Asia, where his encounters become transactions, and he learns the hard way that sexual desire has a human and emotional cost.

Evoking the themes of Edward Said’s Orientalism, The Rice Queen Diaries is as much a personal statement about culture and otherness as it is about gay desire. Traversing three continents, these diaries are a personal reckoning, a bold coming to terms with the nuances of sexuality that has relevance for all of us.

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