On Friday April 29th, I will be presenting my research on Thai Boys Love media at the 14th International Conference of Thai Studies: Thailand at a Global Turning Point. This virtual conference is hosted by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University, Japan between 29th April to 1st May.
My presentation forms part of a panel entitled “MEDIATIONS OF QUEERNESS: Sexual and Gender Diversity and the Surpassing of Thai Heteronormativity” organized by Professor Peter A. Jackson of the Australian National University. Our panel will be held 3:45PM-5:15PM (Japan Time) on the first day of the conference. Here is the abstract:
This panel brings together papers that demonstrate the multiple ways that queer communities and cultures of sex/gender diverse people continue to push the boundaries of Thailand’s dominant heteronormative society into the third decade of the twenty-first century. Our panel’s multidisciplinary studies detail the explosion of Thai BL media, the controversy of artistic representations of young male sex workers, queer spirit mediums as ritual specialists and the relocation of gay social life from public venues to private parties. Together, these studies reflect on how technologies of representation and communication provide the means to escape hetero norms in order to both envision and engender new modalities of individual and community-based queer being. While at one level providing an optic on the extent to which twenty-first century Thailand presents a picture of increasing openness to sexual and gender diversity, our papers nonetheless point to the very real limits that dominant values continue to place on queer lives and expression in the country.
My presentation is the first one in the panel. The title is “Mobilizing Idols in Queer Affective Advertising: Exploring the impacts of “Boys Love” media and fandom in Thailand” and I will be drawing on a collaborative project I completed with my colleague Dr Chavalin Svetanant at Macquarie University. Here is the revised abstract (it differs to the conference listing):
Recent years have witnessed an explosion of “Boys Love (BL)” media in Thailand that focus on romantic relationships between men. This article explores one site through which BL media is significantly impacting Thai consumer culture: the world of advertising. In this article, we theorize the rise of BL advertising in Thailand as an instance of queer affective media engagement. Through a case study of an advertising campaign for the confectionary MinMin starring an imaginary idol celebrity couple named KristSingto, we reveal how Thai BL commercials consciously produce a queer affect known as fin (ฟิน) central to BL fandom. By evoking nostalgia for BL series via specific semiotic codes, Thai advertisers tie affective responses to staged homoeroticism and consumer culture together. The idol celebrities within Thai BL advertising thus do more than simply endorse products, they also bolster consumption among primarily female fans by satisfying desires for (staged) queer romance.