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Gay Tibet–An Impossible Dream

| December 22nd, 2013 | Comments Off

Looking for a LGBT community in Tibet is futile. Of the handful of modern reports about gay life in Tibet, since 1999, only one writer claims to have encountered more than one or two gay individuals, usually by chance. Jump ahead to my own visit in 2013 when I did not find any gay person to interview for an account about LGBT life–but the story does not end there.   Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com September 2013   A few nights ago I watched the 2007 film ‘Seven Years in Tibet‘ based on the true life story of the Dalai Lama and his early-life tutor Heinrich Harrer, an ex-Nazi Austrian. It is a poignant story of an intimate friendship that was interrupted by the Chinese invasion of Tibet but continued after the Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959. That invasion brought about deaths of more than a million people and suddenly

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Thailand–A Place for Gay Old Men

| December 20th, 2013 | Comments Off

Getting old and gray does not mean giving up sex. In southeast Asia, especially Thailand, many retirees find renewed romance and sexual pleasure among the country’s welcoming young gay generation.   This story incorporates another earlier story of unknown origin, published perhaps in Thai Puan magazine, perhaps in 2011 in Bangkok. The author is unknown. (If readers recognize any identifying information please contact GlobalGayz at micamm@globalgayz.com.) On the gay beach at Jomthien Two miles south of Pattaya on the Gulf of Thailand under sunny skies, 85 degrees in November with gently swaying palms. It’s a bit like a UN gathering here: on my right is a Brit; in front of him is a Norwegian; on my left a Russian; scattered around are Americans, Dutch and Germans. Surrounding all of them are Thais: the beach crew renting out chaises, the fresh fruit vendor, a pirated DVD seller with current Hollywood blockbusters

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Gay in North Korea

| December 11th, 2013 | Comments Off

Being gay in North Korea: finding insightful information about LGBT life in this closeted country  is like trying to find water on Mars. This overview by a British writer suggests, among other things, that the only North Koreans who know about homosexuality are ones who escape into South Korea where gay life is more known.   Memories of an Escapee Ji Min, like nearly all other young North Korean men, took part in regular compulsory military training. Once a year, professionals from the cities such as him were drafted and sent off to do military service for about two weeks. Working with Ji Min was another young man of marriageable age, who the army had given the task of distributing food, rations and other necessities to the soldiers – a job which could make one quite popular with your fellow soldiers. Furthermore, on the job they were exposed to many

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Tibet Random Rural Photos

| November 14th, 2013 | Comments Off

Tibet is a dramatic country with vast grassy plains and rugged high mountains. It is a Buddhist country with countless monasteries, temples, shrines and symbolic stupas. The lifestyle is rural with most Tibetans engaged in agriculture and animal raising. Mount Everest is called Chomolungma by Tibetans which means ‘Goddess mother of the Earth’. It’s easy to see how appropriate this name is when viewing the great giant even from afar.   Posted Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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Tibet: Lhasa – Sera Monastery

| November 12th, 2013 | Comments Off

Sera Monastery is one of the ‘great three’ Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. It is about 5 kms north of Lhasa in the hills. The monastery oversees 19 smaller hermitages (including Pobanka Monastery) and nunneries all located in the foot hills north of Lhasa. The Sera Monastery campus is a complex of structures with the Great Assembly Hall and three colleges; it was founded in 1419. Sera Monastery in Lhasa is noted for its ‘monk debates’ on the teachings of Buddha and the philosophy of Buddhism. Sera developed over the centuries as a renowned place of scholarly learning, training hundreds of scholars, many of whom have attained fame in the Buddhist nations. Visitors are welcome to observe these lively outdoor debates.   Posted Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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Tibet: Lhasa – Pabonka Monastery

| November 11th, 2013 | Comments Off

Pabonka Monastery is a historical hermitage (founded in the 7th century) about 8 kilometers northwest of Lhasa on the slopes of Mount Parasol. It is well known today partly because it’s the site where ‘sky burials’ take place. Sky burials involve the dismemberment of  deceased human corpses and leaving the remains open to the sky where vultures pick off the flesh. The remaining bones are crushed into a powder and also left to the birds. The monastery has many white stupas repeatedly washed with paint mixed with milk. Above the monastery on the high hills are thousands of prayer flags hung on long ties that stretch across ravines.    Posted Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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Tibet: Lhasa – Jokhang Temple

| November 11th, 2013 | Comments Off

Jokhang Temple is located on Barkhor Square in central Lhasa. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It is in some regards pan-sectarian, but is controlled by the Gelug Buddhist school. The temple’s architectural style is a mixture of Indian vihara design, Chinese Tang Dynasty design, and Nepalese design. Along with the Potala Palace, it is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Lhasa. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace,” and a spiritual centre of Lhasa. (from Wikipedia)   Posted Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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Tibet: Lhasa – Summer Palace

| November 10th, 2013 | Comments Off

The Summer Palace is the former summer home of HH Dalai Lama. It’s now a museum, as designated by the communist Chinese, but many native Buddhists still consider it a sacred place and offer prayers at the temples within. Foreign visitors cannot go in to any temples or museums or to other cities or sites (such as Mount Everest) without a local guide. Our guide was a very nice young Tibetan woman named Tenzin seen here in photo one.    Posted Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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Tibet: Lhasa – City Photos

| November 10th, 2013 | Comments Off

Visiting Lhasa city is like finding a ghost in a closet full of living beings. It is at once an ancient seat of tradition that lives in the shadow of progressive communist changes. Throughout the city and beyond there is indelible Tibetan ethos mixed with the artifice of Chinese manufacture. The imperialist occupier would like to fade out the indigenous culture and make Tibet into another ‘zone’ but beneath the apparent acquiescence of the secular and sacred population there is an iron resistance that will never fully surrender. Here are some random images of the ancient and modern city of Lhasa.      Posted Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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Tibet: Lhasa – Potala Palace

| November 2nd, 2013 | Comments Off

The Potala Palace is the former home and seat of government for the Buddhist leader Dalai Lama. He was chased out of Tibet when the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1959 and took over the country. Since then the Potala Palace has not been used for government or religious functions. The Chinese have designated it as a museum. Despite attempts to make it a secular place, countless pilgrims and foreign visitors feel it has powerful spiritual meaning and they pray (briefly) in the many temple-like rooms, especially in the former throne room of the Dalai Lama. Several previous Dalai Lamas are interred in the Palace. The interior is very ornate and colorful; photos of the inside are prohibited but I took some anyway.   Posted Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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Tibet Faces

| October 28th, 2013 | Comments Off

The faces of Tibet are diverse in appearance and in lifestyle. From hip city teens to rugged farmers to aged monks and wandering tourists, the variety is panoramic. There is wonder, humor, puzzlement and more than a little hidden resentment at living under an occupying and repressive communist system over which they have no control. But there is an iron determination not to surrender their souls. Posted Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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Mount Everest Photo Gallery

| October 20th, 2013 | Comments Off

Mountains are generally measured from sea level, in which case Mount Everest (29,028 feet; 8,848 meters) is the highest. Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, though, rises an astonishing 33,476 feet (10,203 meters) from the depths of the Pacific Ocean floor. Measuring from base to peak, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on earth, of which only about a third is visible above sea level. A third way to determine the world’s highest mountain is to measure the distance from the center of the earth to the peak. Using this method, Chimborazo in the Andes triumphs. Although it stands but 20,561 feet (6,267 meters) above sea level, its peak is the farthest from the earth’s center taking into account the earth’s curvature. (from: http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/BeataUnke.shtml) Anyway you measure it, in altitude or mass or climb rating, Everest is clearly among the great aesthetic wonders on this planet. Within each minute the clouds shroud the

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Gay Life Beijing, China

| October 15th, 2013 | Comments Off

Gay Life in Beijing, China: Shiny Windows and Shadow Lives China has a population estimated at 1.3 billion people. A conservative estimate of 5% makes for 65 million LGBT citizens. But one would never know it given the invisibility of the community there.   October 2013 By Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com (Note: this story is only about gay Beijing. By many reports, Shanghai, China’s most dynamic and cosmopolitan city, is the country’s most open metropolis for LGBT nightlife and lifestyle.) Introduction   China has a population estimated at 1.3 billion people. A conservative estimate of 5% makes for 65 million LGBT citizens. But one would never know it given the invisibility of the community there. It is hard to get an accurate take on the general gay scene in China because of its vast physical size, the density of the cities, the scarce and scattered location of LGBT venues, fearful closeted gay

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Gay Pakistan 2013

| August 27th, 2013 | Comments Off

Here is a balanced and intelligent report about gay life in urban Pakistan today. Too often the news from Pakistan is about political and social violence, but behind the headlines and hysteria are many quiet lives going about their affairs with hardly any notice, including homosexual affections and love.   Gay Pakistan: Where sex is available and relationships are difficult By Mobeen Azhar BBC World Service, Karachi http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/23811826   Pakistan is not the kind of place that most people would associate with gay liberation. But some say the country is a great place to be gay – even describing the port city of Karachi as “a gay man’s paradise”. Underground parties, group sex at shrines and “marriages of convenience” to members of the opposite sex are just some of the surprises that gay Pakistan has to offer. Under its veneer of strict social conformity, the country is bustling with same-sex

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Gay Life in South Korea: Complicated

| July 21st, 2013 | Comments Off

The Complicated Lives of Gay Men in South Korea: “The main issue of being a gay man in South Korea was how to find a boyfriend and a gay community, the two things that create the basis for a gay life. People do not come out due to their emotional closeness to their families. According to anthropologist John Cho, single gay men in South Korea retreated from gay life in the wake of the 1997 Asian banking crisis and began to concentrate on making money, while married gay men became much more active in the gay community.” International Institute, UCLA April 2, 2013 After a decade of sexual freedom as homosexuals in the 1990s, said anthropologist John Cho, single gay men in South Korea became consumed by financial worries following the 1997 Asian banking crisis (also known as the “IMF crisis”). Cho, who spoke at a lecture organized by the

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Gay Life in Pakistan–Quiet and Comfortable

| May 10th, 2013 | Comments Off

Pakistani gay says life easier at home than in USA; culture helps mask same-sex affection   Qasim and his partner Ali are in love and live together. They talk about going abroad to marry, but the only weddings they attend in Pakistan are arranged unions between their gay friends and unsuspecting women. Despite that, “it’s actually easier being gay in Pakistan than in the US,” says Qasim, 41, dragging on a cigarette in a smart coffee shop, as he explains how to live under the radar in one of the world’s most conservative countries. “We can hold hands,” says Qasim, reaching for Ali under the table. “We can sit casually like this. Nobody gives it a second thought in Pakistan.” Qasim says he is never insulted in the street, or called names – something that happened when he lived in the United States. In tribal societies in Pakistan’s northwestern border

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Gay Life in Tibet–The Undercover Life of a Proud Gay Man

| May 9th, 2013 | Comments Off

Lesbian couple Katie Cook and Maggie Young are traveling the world meeting LGBT people. Here they meet Jetsan in Lhasa, Tibet, who has found he is not alone.   By Katie Cook and Maggie Young Sapphic Nomads.com 31 March 2013 Re-posted from Sapphic Nomads-Tibet Finding gay Tibetans turned out to be as we expected – quite difficult. Into the Unknown We are on our international quest to find LGBT communities around the world, and we realized the Tibet Autonomous Region would be an especially challenging – and therefore intriguing – destination. It was a place we knew so little about and whose LGBT voice seemed so markedly absent from the world discourse. (photo right: Lhasa central view) We had read about the first public gay wedding this past October in China’s Fujian province, and we had heard that Shanghai even boasts a relatively vibrant gay scene. But what about Tibet?

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Siem Reap Cambodia, a Small Gay Haven

| March 1st, 2013 | Comments Off

By Ancient Ruins, a Gay Haven in Siem Reap, Cambodia (from New York Times) It was 10 p.m. in Siem Reap, and while most tourists were tucked in after a long, hot day exploring the temples of Angkor, things were just getting going at a bar called Linga. Pairs of European men in their 30s and 40s wearing unbuttoned collared shirts and checkered krama scarves sipped fruity cocktails and jostled for space with the young Khmer crowd, who huddled around small tables in anticipation of the main event: the Saturday night drag show. See story about LGBT drop-in center, Dragonfly House. A statuesque Khmer performer who went by the name Beyoncé took to the stage draped in a black, body-skimming floor-length gown and wearing a blond Afro wig. Soon, everyone was on his feet, belting out a song from “Dreamgirls.” The traffic outside literally stopped. Curious travelers, Khmer families and

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LGBT Life in Mongolia

| February 13th, 2013 | Comments Off

Mongolia: Tales of a Dusty City, Friendly Nomads and a Few LGBT Natives   by Maggie Young http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/blog-3973-sapphic-nomads-two-santa-feans-explore-mongolia.html Last summer (2012), we (Katie Cook and Maggie Young), photo right, went on a year-long journey to discover the range of LGBT experiences of people we meet around the world.  Along the way, we are seeking out, meeting with, and interviewing LGBT folks.  In addition to adding to our own (admittedly limited) insight and education, we have been creating audio segments for the radio station, This Way Out, as well as collecting hundreds of hours of film footage for a future documentary about global LGBT issues.  We call ourselves the Sapphic Nomads. Our journey took us to Mongolia, a small hilly, desert-y country in Central Asia with a population of only 2.8 million, sandwiched between China and Russia.  We arrived to this beautiful and somewhat incongruous country via the Mongolian Express, which

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Bhutan Photo Gallery

| February 9th, 2013 | Comments Off

          Google Images for BhutanPosted Laguna Niguel, California, United States.

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Interview With a Singapore Lesbian

| January 13th, 2013 | Comments Off

Our Lesbian Sisters in Singapore An interview with a leading lesbian rights activist in Singapore, Jean Chong of lesbian group Sayoni 09 January 2013 Gay Star News The LGBT rights movement in Singapore has been mainly dominated by gay men, but Gay Star News met Jean Chong of lesbian group Sayoni and discovered that sisters are doing it for themselves.Did you have any role models when you were growing up as a lesbian in Singapore?No, I always wished there were lesbian role models when I was growing up. There were so much confusion, silence and questions.It was hard to even reach out to other LGBT persons because there was no internet in my teenage years until I was in tertiary education. It was only at that time with greater freedom to travel, with some help from the internet and books that I finally found the language for the many questions

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High Courts Decriminalize Then Recriminalize Homosexuality

| January 10th, 2013 | Comments Off

The Delhi high court’s decision in 2009 legalizing consensual homosexual acts was a powerful example of judicial wisdom. However, in 2013 that decision was set aside when two Supreme Court justices (out of 29) ruled otherwise. Countless legal professionals and India’s LGBT community were appalled.   Posted here are two reports about the 2013 ruling, followed by reports about the 2009 ruling. From the Huffington Post: (2013) “In a shocking decision, the Indian Supreme Court has reversed the July 2009 ruling of the Delhi High Court decriminalizing gay sex between consenting adults. In doing so, the Indian Supreme Court has re-criminalized gay sex in India, rendering almost 20 percent of the global LGBT population illegal. Overturning a High Court decision, the Indian Supreme Court upheld Indian Penal Code 377, an archaic and barbaric law that criminalizes “homosexual” acts…” From the New York Times: (2013) “The Indian Supreme Court reinstated on

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Gay India 2006–Part 1 (Intro): Bombay/Mumbai

| January 1st, 2013 | Comments Off

A Four-part Journey Through South India in Search of LGBT Life Also see: Islam and Homosexuality Gay India Stories Gay India News & Reports 2000 to present Gay India Photo Galleries Introduction Read this historic story first The sheer size of India makes ‘a’ Gay India story an impossible task, and it’s not just size that matters; it’s also the intense complexity and patchwork of overlapping and diverse religions, discrete language dialects, gender divisions, class prescriptions and prohibitions, political fragmentation and fluid definitions of sexuality. More than a few observers have said that India is a paradox: whatever can be said aloud deeper truths are unspoken; what is seen is unknown; it is packed with life, it is fraught with death; it surges with technology, it travels by ox cart. The same can be said about homosexuality: there is no scene and there is an extensive network; there is no

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Gay Sri Lanka

| January 1st, 2013 | Comments Off

Being Fearful and Boldly Gay in Sri Lanka  Sri Lanka is thankfully no longer a war torn culture. During and after the conflict the country has offered modest convenience to lesbigay citizens thanks to the activism of a courageous few. To be sure many LGBT citizens live in closeted misery but more recently voices of equality and respect have become louder. Being traditionally Buddhist there is little fear of overt homophobic violence yet archaic colonialist anti-gay laws still apply. Also see: Gay Sri Lanka News & Reports 1995 to present Gay Sri Lanka Photo Gallery By Richard Ammon Updated June 2011   A Torn Land  Sri Lanka is a bittersweet dream set in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with fertile land, mild climate and endearing people, it was cursed with an intransigent guerilla war that finally ended in 2009.   My first thought about going to this

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Bangkok City Photos, November 2012

| December 3rd, 2012 | Comments Off

Bangkok city is like no other with its complex mix of modern skyscrapers, super-engineered SkyTain (and subway) and many exotic old world Buddhist temples and adoration of the aging King. Up-scale life is abundantly visible in the countless Mercedes cars (and an occasional Rolls Royce) and 5-star high-rise luxury condo towers. Low-scale life is visible in every back alley where small dark houses are home to the working class. There are of course many midscale houses crowded between these two extremes of the urban jungle. In a city of 8 million, everything is crowded but the city pulse continues daily and smoothly, including the relatively small LGBT scene.      Posted .

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