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I thought the conference and what the deputy minister said was ridiculous as there are many many “closeted” men and women in Malaysia, who look and act like the normal everyday guy/girl.

You can find these men cruising in the dark rooms of bathhouses on weekends, or the dark corners of cruising spots in KL.

While life as a gay young person growing up during the 1980s certainly was rough, I know that many people had it much worse. As I contemplated living in Malaysia, I had to ask the question While the Malaysian culture is diverse and split among three major ethnic groups (Malay, Tamil, and Chinese), the majority are Muslim. In large, metropolitan KL, it feels less conservative. Though they have an inkling about me because I am 33 and have no girlfriend.

As I pondered my personal question, I broadened my query out to perhaps an even more important one—What is life like for Muslim gay people? They know I am close to a lot of guy friends through the years. In my 20s, my family did ask whether I had a girlfriend or was interested in marriage and such, but nowadays my mother and father do not touch on the topic anymore.

I know there was a party in northern state Kedah, some years back, that created headlines because the state Islamic religious authority found out it had drag-show like elements in the party.

Malay Muslims in Malaysia are still generally very conservative.

Islam is not known for its tolerance of the LGBT community and its lifestyle, even though in many Muslim countries sex between men is not uncommon due to the prohibitions of interaction between the sexes. I reached out to some friends, and in turn a couple of brave Malays stepped forward to be interviewed. Members of the Malay ethnic group basically have no choice in their religion. Relatives are usually the most persistent ones who never fail to ask: “So when is your time? (Eid), weddings, and other communal Malay gatherings.

They are raised Muslim and are expected to follow its principles. Do you feel that you are able to be “out” in your daily life, or are you only able to be open with close friends? At the office, being gay is an accepted norm as I am in the creative/media line.

I go cruising at KL sauna/spas and the two cruising Lake parks in Kelana Jaya and Tasik Permaisuri in Cheras. I like to describe it as “thriving but we have to keep up with appearances”.

In this sense, I am only “out” with my close friends. Of course in urban areas such as KL, gay men and women can be as out as they want.

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