, my country of origin, is breaking my heart. What can I do as a currently overseas citizen to make things better for my fellow LGBT folk back in Malaysia, particularly in raising awareness of the issue internationally?
I left Malaysia for various reasons, but one core reason was escaping the various persecutions and micro/macro-aggressions I felt for who I am. Most of this has to do with race (my parents are Bangladeshi migrants) and citizenship/residency, but I also felt that I wouldn't be safe exploring my sexuality in a country that so deeply vilifies sexuality that "sexy" is a slur and politicians get run out of Parliament for what they wear (or don't) in their sleep. It took me until I had been in Australia for a few years that I felt safe and able to explore my sexuality and gender without having to look behind my back to see if I will get screwed over by the Malaysian Government. I have had friends and acquaintances who cannot go back to Malaysia because they will face persecution, and one person whose Government scholarship was revoked and who was forced to come back home because her ex outed her as a trans woman.
I am trying to get the word out about the situation in Malaysia, especially this ridiculous propaganda musical, but I am facing a few roadblocks:
1. I am overseas and am not likely to return to Malaysia anytime soon, so my ability to organise something back home is limited. If I did try to do something in Malaysia, I'd be dismissed as a "foreign Zionist agent" of some fashion.
2. Incorporated into the musical is a plot point about how LGBT people who protest are being paid a handsome sum by the Opposition party and are merely reacting against the advice of "reasonable Malay Muslims". This makes any show of protest difficult to be taken seriously - especially when the main sexuality rights event in the country gets shut down for "threatening to disrupt public order" - pretty much the main excuse for arresting any protestor ever.
3. I am trying to get the word out in the Bay Area (where I live right now), especially with the Queer People of Color circles I am heavily involved with. Not many people have really picked up on this though - most people get stuck on "a musical about anti-gay sentiment! ISN'T THAT IRONIC" and don't move on from there. Also it seems that Malaysia doesn't quite have the White/Western Savior Cred of places like Uganda or India, where people seem to care more about LGBT issues there.
4. Even when there are people that DO care, I'm at a loss for what they could do. Petitions are pointless, because the Malaysian Government isn't going to pay attention (the whole paid-by-the-Opposition thing). International attention would be handy, but then it becomes "Foreign Zionist Agents". Tying this in to the United Nations
may be useful, but I'm sure there will be a stack of countries who will take Malaysia's side.
5. People often bring up voting, but Malaysia has arcane voting laws that make it near impossible for overseas residents to vote. I technically am allowed to vote overseas because I'm an international student (one of the few classes of overseas residents allowed to vote), but I have to register in Malaysia first - not overseas. Gah! (Besides, it's not like there is anyone to vote for in my district that isn't Ruling Party, and there's a lot of electoral fraud.)
I want Malaysians to see that the so-called deviants are people like everyone else, diverse and unique and part of their community, and not a danger or scrounge to society. My current idea is to organise a performance of monologues, ala Yoni ki Baat
(semi self link) or The Vagina Monologues, about Malaysians dealing with the stigmatization of sexuality. Not just in terms of being LGBT, but also slut-shaming, ageism against young people, and misogyny - one does not have to do much to be branded a sexual deviant in Malaysia. I have been and am currently involved in these sorts of This requires being back in Malaysia for a substantial amount of time, which I am not able to do right now. I'm also reminded of how the Vagina Monologues are banned in Malaysia
and how anything of this nature would have to be underground...which then leads to the issue of preaching to the choir, the people who already know that LGBT people are not evil...rather than the people who will be affected by this propaganda. Something along the lines of the Pussy Riot worldwide protests would be awesome, but I'm not sure how to get people to care
Any ideas of what I can do to get international support? I'm reaching out super slowly, one person at a time, but I really don't want Malaysia to get away with it and continue being an unsafe hostile space for people like me.