8 Queer Malaysian creatives to discover and support beyond Pride Month
Creating with Pride
Although we are moving forward from Pride Month, we should support queer creatives all year long. The LGBTQIA+ community has always shared a love for creating all forms of art, where they can freely express themselves, in a world that silences their voices. While there is still a lot of work to be done, queer creatives are finally being appreciated for their talents and we’re more than thrilled to be here for it! In honour of Pride, read along to discover eight talented Malaysian creatives—and their contributions to the arts.
Sarawak native Alex Bong, otherwise known as Alextbh, is a proudly queer pop-infused R&B musician known for his hits Stoop So Low, no space, and Mornings (See You Again). Despite the criminalisation of gay relationships in Malaysia, Bong has continued to unapologetically express his true self through his lyrics about the highs and lows of romantic relationships with boys. While his soothing voice is pleasant to listen to, it is also a voice that resonates with the queer community, giving hope to queer creatives aspiring to succeed in an oppressive society.
Daniel Adams is a creative director and a conceptual portrait photographer based in Kuala Lumpur. His work is best known for its inclusivity and for breaking the boundaries of photography in Malaysia by blurring the lines between gender, identity, and cultural norms. Love & Other Drags, Dark Skin Is…, and Boys are some of his best and most well-known photos.
Vaneesha Krishnasamy is a multimedia producer, journalist, photographer, and inspiration for change. She uses her talents to shed light on under-discussed sociopolitical and cultural issues that marginalised communities face, through in-depth and authentic stories that tug on the heartstrings of her audience. Her platform serves as a voice for silenced communities to spread a powerful message and demand change. One of her works titled A piece to my racially and socially privileged friends went viral last year, where she shared her personal experience of racial oppression as an Indian woman in Malaysia, while imploring the privileged to have these difficult conversations with the community.
Follow @vaneeshakrish on Instagram.
Joshua Kam is a queer Malaysian fiction writer whose stories explore coming-of-age themes with queer characters through adventure, history, and magical realism. His debut novel, How the Man in Green Saved Pahang, and Possibly the World, is a thrilling ride through Malaysian history and culture that captures the complex journey of finding our identities and belonging. Through powerful prose, Kam gives his readers a chance to expand their imagination to see the possibility of a better Malaysia.
Carlos Khu (Kumela Kumsl*t)
Singer-songwriter and drag queen Kumela Kumsl*t is the empowering, show-stopping alter ego of fashion photographer Carlos Khu. Aside from creating jaw-dropping visuals, he conceived the persona of Kumsl*t to inspire love and embrace our identities; but more importantly, to spread awareness on the importance of sex education and to destigmatise sex through drag performances.
Kimchi Lai is a bilingual poet, writer, creator, and self-publisher of her first chapbook, Solace in Solstice. Lai expresses human emotions in the rawest form through her craft with stories of yearning, romance, and self-identity. She began her literary journey in 2017 after she was dared to do an improv on her lecturer’s name during class. Little did she know, Lai would go on to perform at Urbanscapes in 2018, be featured at Oral Fixation, and win third place in the Asia Pacific slam at Lit Up Festival in Singapore, among many other creative pursuits.
Follow @kimchilaithemusical on Instagram.
Craig William Wallace Chadwick
Self-taught artist, designer, and illustrator Craig William Wallace Chadwick creates art that speaks to the soul, with psychedelic and surrealism being major elements. Beneath the captivating and vibrant colours of his art is a story of self-discovery, growth, and curiosity. As an artist with a passion to create, Chadwick also makes art inspired by comics and animations that influenced his childhood. Although he is naturally gifted in his craft, he also enjoys venturing out in search of a new medium for expression, which led him to develop a love for coffee. When he isn’t creating art on a screen, he’s brewing art behind the counters of Helo Coffee.
Follow @cr.eggg on Instagram.
Jar Francisco spent her days as a barista prior to her venture into music. She started her journey as a producer and DJ in late 2019 with the debut of her first single, Appa Yip Yip. This (relatively) new pursuit has led to her booking many live shows and gigs, allowing her to express herself through upbeat tunes. Suffice to say, her audience has never had a dull moment when she's spinning on the deck.
To read more on Pride, click here.