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From the Iron to the Lady: The Kathoey Phenomenon in Thai Cinema

Author(s): Milagros Expósito Barea

Journal: Sesión no Numerada : Revista de Letras y Ficción Audiovisual
ISSN 2173-5123

Issue: 2;
Start page: 190;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Thai cinema | gay cinema | kathoey | ladyboys

Even though they lack any legal rights, the kathoey, also known as ladyboys, have great social relevance  in Thailand. We  face  a  different way  of  looking  at  homosexuality,  starting with  a more  tolerant consideration  from  the  religious point of view  thanks  to  the way  it  is conceived through karma. The successful release of The Iron Ladies (Thongkonthun, dir., 2000) initiated the production of an increasing number of gay  films  in Thailand. Choosing the standpoint of queer  theory,  this paper attempts  to put across  the reasons behind the success  these films have found,  studying  the way Thai culture, particularly  its cinema, depicts  the various homosexual factions:  the  portrayal  of  the  kathoey  as  a  role  model;  an  approach  to  the  boom  of  male homosexuality in films; an investigation of the  use of stereotypes;  the  evolution  of  the commercial gay comedy or the upsurge of dramas aimed at homosexual audiences.
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