Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rights of Passage in Thailand and Indonesia

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A few hours ago we took off from SFO heading west on our way to Bangkok, Bali and Jakarta. We’ve been planning this trip for some time now with the idea that it would be part honeymoon and part research/writing trip for Rights of Passage. With ten hours to go before an intermediate stop in Seoul, it seemed like a good use of time to put together a blog entry. First on our itinerary is spending some time with our friend Susan who lives in Cambodia and is coming down to Bangkok to spend a few days with us. It will be great to see her, have few martinis and conversation in the bar at the Shangri La and find a place for a good Thai massage. The research part kicks in next. We’ve spent the last couple of months combing the internet for LGBT contacts in Asia. After more than a few dead ends a goldmine was revealed in the form of Anne Marie Lim of GALANG in Manila. She generously sent a list of contacts in Thailand and Indonesia and we connected up with LGBT people in Bangkok, Jakarta, Surabaya and Banda Aceh who were eager to meet with us, once they heard about Rights of Passage . One man, who is from Banda Aceh but now lives in Jakarta, has an unsettling story to tell of imprisonment and beatings because of his gayness. Others are less dramatic but just as compelling. We have a variety of in person and telephone interviews lined up, plus an introduction that came through from our neighbor, Bridget, just as we were leaving for the airport to a woman who lives in Bali.

We’ve scheduled a self-imposed writer’s retreat in the artist’s colony of Ubud, Bali so that we may concentrate on the first phase of writing our play, shaping the framework and beginning to fill it in. Armed with a new laptop and a printout from the Internet entitled “Ten tips for writing effective dialogue” it should be an interesting experience. The humid, tropical heat, lush rice paddy vistas, geckos climbing the walls and two stubborn personalities trying to collaborate on a work of creative genius! If any of you have LGBT contacts in any of the above mentioned places or just want to say hi please drop us a line at We’ll be checking email and would love to hear from you.

Photo: Entrance to Cabbages and Condoms restaurant in Bangkok. The restaurant is run by Thailand's Population and Community Development Association, whose founder, former Thai senator Mechai Viravaidya, believes "birth control should be as cheap as vegetables"—hence the restaurant's name!

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