During the Anwar Trial it Was Easy to Get Lucky
Interview with openly gay journalist Ashley Lee
Magazine, September 26, 2000
By Mageswary Ramakrishnan
Ashley Lee is a 26-year-old Kuala Lumpur-based journalist and a prominent member of
Malaysias gay community. Lee attributes the Internet, new bars, and "cruising
areas" for the rise in the number of people coming out as gay, and reveals the sodomy
trial of Anwar Ibrahim (the countrys former Deputy Prime Minister) even increased
his own sex life. He spoke recently with TIME contributor Mageswary Ramakrishnan.
TIME: What is happening in the Malaysian gay community?
Lee: The gay community is growing. Many gay saunas and pubs have been opening up to
cater to this increase. Gay men are also becoming more open about their sexuality. Gay
cruising areas are also increasing -- there are a few dozen spots in Kuala Lumpur, alone.
TIME: What are cruising areas?
Lee: These are pickup areas where men meet other men and have sex with them.
TIME: What is your reaction to Anwar Ibrahims nine-year jail sentence for sodomy?
Lee: During the Anwar trial it was easy to get lucky. After he was sacked my sex life
escalated. Many people wanted to experiment with gay sex.
TIME: Has the Internet made a difference to the gay community?
Lee: We are all logged on to the Internet. We have chat lines catering to Malaysian
gays. We have chat parties where we meet the people we have been chatting with.
TIME: Anal sex is a crime in Malaysia. Do you have problems with the police?
Lee: It is ironical but the authorities have left us alone so far. They know where the
gay pubs are. They are aware of the pickup areas, but so far nothing has happened. I hope
it stays that way.
TIME: Why do you think the authorities are turning a blind eye?
Lee: I think its because we are not openly demanding recognition or holding gay
TIME: Do you think Malaysias sex laws should be changed?
Lee: Of course. Why cant they recognize that this involves two people who are in
love. There is nothing wanton about it.
TIME: Do Malaysians in general accept homosexuality?
Lee: Most Malaysians think we are vulgar creatures only in relation to anal sex. I for
one hate anal sex. I am talking about love here. I feel for another man and want to have a
life with him. I hope people will stop seeing stereotypes and start seeing us human
TIME: Do you think this will ever happen in Malaysia?
Lee: Yes, when the gay community has become really big. I believe that numbers will add
to our strength. With a huge number of people we might be able to not only gain respect
from society but perhaps even lobby for our rights.
[Home] [World] [Malaysia]