Research tackles gay community

The first initial study on homosexuality in Brunei carried out by Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) revealed the existence of underground gay clubs for men with some paying as much as $400 for a sexual relations with another man.

The working paper, titled “Gay in Brunei Darussalam: An initial observation” was presented during the National Seminar on Social Issues yesterday by two researchers at the Academy of Brunei Studies (APB), UBD, Pg Khairul Rijal Pg Hj Abdul Rahim and Zulhilmi Hj Jaidin.

The study is based on interviews and questionnaires with 29 gay men and focuses on a demographic breakdown on homosexual men and their relationships with other men.

Speaking during the seminar at Chancellor Hall, Zulhilmi disclosed that 58 per cent of respondents stated they belonged to groupings known as “gay clubs” which they used as an avenue to meet other gay men.

Eighty-two per cent of those interviewed said they did have sexual relations with other men while 10 per cent said they did not. Two people did not respond to this particular question in the survey.

Additionally, the study reveals instances of the interviewees paying for sex, with one respondent paying as much as $400 for a night with another man. However, the majority of respondents (41 per cent) said they did not pay for sex but interestingly, when asked what they looked for in a partner, 65.5 per cent of respondent said they preferred married men to single men.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Zulhilmi, who is a lecturer in Deviance and Sociology at the APB, said not much is known about the gay community in Brunei which is why he chose to conduct research on the subject.

Majority chose to live a gay lifestyle out of their own desire. Four people stated it was because they were attracted to people of the same sex while five said they were influenced by their friends.

Additionally, four respondents told the researchers they were gay because they were born that way, while another four said they started living the gay lifestyle due to family circumstances. The study also noted that one respondent stated he turned to a homosexual lifestyle after experiencing heartbreak with a woman.

Zulhilmi explained that all the respondents were openly gay to their families and friends but it was too early to tell whether they faced discrimination from society because the study was still in the initial stages.

After coming out to their parents, 62.1 per cent of interviewees said they were still accepted by their families but 37.9 per cent responded that they were disowned by their families.

The study also offers a demographic breakdown of the 29 respondents by age, race, religion and place of origin.

Ten per cent of interviewees were aged between 16-20, 31 per cent were aged between 21-25, 31 per cent aged between 26-30, 17.2 per cent between 31-35 and 6.9 per cent between 36-40.

Twenty five of the respondents were local and four were foreign nationals residing in Brunei. The majority of respondents were Malay (24), three were Chinese, one was Filipino and one Indonesian. Twenty-eight were single and one was married.

Brunei-Muara showed the highest concentration of gay men, with 25 respondents from the district with two each from Tutong and Belait districts.

The study also broke down the respondents by occupation three of those surveyed worked as clerks, two as makeup artists, two were self-employed, six were unemployed, while the remaining 16 interviewees came from a variety of occupations including a teacher, army officer, police officer, flight attendant, and a hairdresser, among others.

The research and accompanying interviews were conducted in December 2010 and Zulhilmi stated that the next stage of their research would be conducting a similar interview and questionnaire exercise with lesbian women.

“Our research is in the very early stages but hopefully by doing so, we can hope to uncover a social phenomenon which is still taboo and has yet to be openly discussed in Brunei,” he said.

by Quratul-Ain Bandial & Brunei-Muara
Source – The Brunei Times