A couple of years ago, in our first travel to Malaysia (2013), we lived in Kuantan, a small town on the east side of the peninsula. Life in Kuantan is quiet, most of the population there are Malays (Muslims) although there are still Chinese and Indians. After a few months there, one of the weekend we travel the multicultural, agitated and dizzying capital of Malaysia Kuala Lumpur. In a small alley of the busy distric of Bukit Bintang we discovered one mamak (street food stalls), where young gays and transgender guys were having some food. Right next to this a poster of a local club: Blue Boy.
We would like to point out that, although Malaysia consider itself as multicultural multireligious country, Malaysia's official religion is Islam. Under Sharia laws, sodomy and oral sex are forbidden. This makes homosexual lifestyle is quite difficult and almost ilegal, specially for ethnic Malays. The reality of the transgender community is not much better because crossdressing is also consider inappropriate.
Dark, smoky, seedy and kitsch at the same time, what we liked the most of this club was the freedom and happiness on the atmosphere. This Malaysia was very different from our life in Kuantan. The very first day we met Danisha, transgender friend that began working on PT Foundation and now is one of the bigger activist hardworking to educate and prevent HIV in the LGBT community.
Talking to regular customers we fount out that Blue Boy club had been operating since the eighties. Some of the performers had been active decades. Attending regularly fot the last two years, we realized that every weekend, not only the artists performing were the same but also the public attending. They look like a family. Justine has been doing drag shows at Blue Boy for more tan 10 years. Yasmin and Chillie Padi, veterans of the show, created six years ago a transgender showgirls group called the Sexy Divas - currently the Funky Divas. Sebastian, the waiter, is from Sarawak (Borneo) and he spend every single night behind the bar of Blue Boy. Olah Anat comes from theater world and loves getting dress as Malay schoolgirl and wearing hijab. And then, young K Pop lovers like Fazzle, Zwan, Kenz ... some are super young, around 16, and if you ask them why they only drink tea, coffee or soda , they will tell you because they respect Halal laws as they are muslims.
Talking one day to Danisha she said that Education Ministry endorsed some guidelines for detect gay and lesbians symptoms on kids, which include things like wearing v neck t-shirts. It would be amazing that all were danzing, flirting and performance on the LGBT scene in Malaysia, however extortion and even imprisonment have been a fact even on recent days.
Beyond claiming gender and sexual freedom; this club existence is one more trace that corruption goes further than moral laws, and religion can be used as an extortion tool.
Between the dark walls of Blue Boy, fiction and real life get mixed under a controlled freedom.