Dr Joseph N. Goh
Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies
School of Arts and Social Sciences
Born into a family of mixed ancestry in Sarawak, Malaysia, Dr Joseph N. Goh’s formative years were marked by weekend picnics in the country, midnight masses, English novels and sophisti-pop singles. After a brief foray in teaching, he embarked on a full-time ecclesiastical career in 1993 that spanned almost two decades. In the process, he found himself schooled in philosophy, theology, and practical ministerial service among the Bidayûh and Iban people in rural and semi-rural areas.
In 2010, Dr Goh earned two graduate degrees from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California, USA. The life lessons learned during this period were both cathartic and transformative. It was also during this time that his passion for academia, research and education was further fuelled. Nevertheless, eager to experience new forms of service, he ventured into non-governmental work and worked as an HIV Counselling and Testing Manager at the community-based organisation, PT Foundation. In 2012, he made the decision to embark on full-time doctoral studies. His research on masculinities and non-heteronormative sexualities in Malaysia culminated in a thesis entitled Piercing transcendence: A queer theorising and theologising of non-heteronormative Malaysian men, for which he was awarded a doctoral degree in 2015. In 2016, he joined the School of Arts and Social Sciences as a lecturer in Gender studies.
Dr Goh is interested in issues of gender, sexuality and sexual health within the larger framework of human rights. As a theological activist, he enjoys writing on issues of religion and theology, particularly in their intersections with LGBTIQ subjectivities. He is a member of the international Emerging Queer Asian Pacific Islander Religion Scholars (EQARS) group, and sits on the editorial board of two online journals, Religión e Indicencia Pública and Conexión Queer: Revista Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Teologías Queer.
Dr Goh continues to be involved with various non-governmental, civil society and church-related organisations in and outside Malaysia on matters pertaining to gender variance and sexual diversity with hopes of contributing to social transformation in his country and beyond. He collaborated with Ms Laishan Yip, a doctoral candidate from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, USA to design and facilitiate the ‘Bringing wholeness into our sex lives’ Christian sexual ethics workshop at the Amplify 2018 Open and Affirming Conference, Taipei, Taiwan, on 26th October, 2018. He has been invited by the World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific (WSCF-AP) to design and present seminars on Christian churches and LGBTQ persons in Bangkok, Thailand and Bangalore, India (2017). Dr Goh also successfully produced a discussion paper entitled ‘Christianity, sexual diversity and access to health’ for the international coalition APCOM, which covered issues in Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Singapore and Tonga.
Dr Goh has often been approached for expert commentaries and interviews on issues of gender and sexuality. Some of his commentaries can be found in The Conversation (‘Beauty and the Beast censorship attempt shows the good, the bad and the ugly of LGBT rights in Malaysia’, 29th March, 2017), Campus Plus (‘It’s (not) a man’s world’, June 2016), and Free Malaysia Today (‘Malaysians who condone Orlando massacre are sick’, 14th June, 2016). Interviews with Dr Goh include segments on Astro Radio News (‘Men are sexually harassed as well. Why don't we talk about it?’, n.d.) and Joy FM (‘Malaysia: Sodomy, religion and courage’, 15th June, 2017).
Ph.D. (Gender, Sexuality and Theology, Monash University Malaysia)
S.T.L. (summa cum laude) (Systematic Theology, Jesuit School of Theology, Santa Clara University, USA)
Th.M. (Systematic Theology, Jesuit School of Theology, Santa Clara University, USA)
Dr Joseph Goh is interested in diverse topics on gender and sexuality, particularly those which pertain to actual human subjects. While his main geopolitical focus is on Malaysia, he is also actively exploring gender and sexuality issues in other Southeast Asian countries, particularly the Philippines and Singapore.
Dr Goh’s primary interest lies in the intersection of queer subjectivities and Christian theology. Specifically, he draws on the lived experiences of gay and bisexual men, and transgender women and men as theological resources, thus blending traditional forms of theology with sociological realities. He has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on queer theology, which is a form of liberal, progressive theology. He co-edited Queering migrations towards, from, and beyond Asia (Palgrave MacMillan) with Hugo Córdova Quero and Michael Sepidoza Campos in 2014. In 2018, he published his first monograph, Living out sexuality and faith: Body admissions of Malaysian gay and bisexual men (Routledge).
Dr Goh is also interested in a wide range of feminist and queer studies, and how they can be deployed to analyse and augment human rights and sexual health issues and endeavours. In 2016, he was commissioned by APCOM, an international coalition comprising governments, UN partners, and non-profit and community-based organisations to conduct research in the Asia-Pacific region and produce a discussion paper entitled Christianity, Sexual Diversity and Access to Health Services. The document has been well-received by many organisations that are involved in outreach programmes to promote sexual health among gender-variant and sexually-diverse communities. There is also a YouTube video to accompany this paper.
Dr Goh’s current research interests are focused primarily on issues of queer space, queer ecclesiologies, and various issues of LGBTIQ youth and children.
Dr Goh is currently working on various publications, and continues to collaborate with, and provide academic input and consultancy services to local and international community-based organisations and Christian organisations on issues related to gender, sexuality and theology.
Dr Goh has recently completed an international book project with Robert E. Shore-Goss as co-editor of Unlocking Systems From Within: Alternative Queer Orthodoxies (Routledge), due out in 2019. At present, he is working on his next single-authored monograph, which investigates the subjective formations of transgender men in Malaysia.
As an educator, Dr Goh values continuing development and enhancement of educational practice. The techniques of best educational practice that he continues to glean from various Continuing Education Excellence Development (CEED) and other avenues helps him to improve teaching skills and support for student learning experiences, particularly the incorporation of technological tools. An assessment task which he devised for Contemporary feminisms in Asia (AMU3560), a unit he formerly taught, required students to produce a Feminism Video Project. These videos were subsequently uploaded to a social media platform.
As one of two full-time lecturers who manage the Gender Studies major, Dr Goh is constantly working towards bridging research and teaching, enhancing existing units and offering new units. He currently teaches Introduction to sexuality studies (AMU1309) and Critical methodologies for action research (AMU2908). Apart from incorporating more online technological approaches in the contents and assessment tasks of his units, he has written a new home-grown unit entitled Performing Asian, African and black masculinities (AMU3574) which will be operationalised in 2019.
One of the most important premises in Goh’s design and planning of learning activities is the nexus between classroom and real world, which fosters a conducive ‘real-world’ environment for active learning. In this regard, he is keen on cultivating in students a sense of responsibility to change the world for the better and equipping them with the necessary skills to do so.
Goh, J. N. (2018). Living out sexuality and faith: Body admissions of Malaysian gay and bisexual men. London, UK: Routledge
Córdova Quero, H., Goh, J. N., & Campos, M. S. (Eds.). (2014). Queering migrations towards, from, and beyond Asia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Edited Journal Special Issue
Goh, J. N., and Wong, P. (2015). Special issue on queer theologies [Special issue]. in God’s image 34(2).
Goh, J.N., Lewis, G.L. & Leong, P.P.Y. (first online: 31st July, 2018). Sexy media dissidents: State regulation, dissidence, pornography and gay men in Malaysia. Sexuality & Culture. doi: 10.1007/s12119-018-9550-2
Goh, J.N., and Kananatu, T. (first online: 30th January, 2018). Mak nyahs and the dismantling of dehumanisation: Framing empowerment strategies of Malaysian male-to-female transsexuals in the 2000s. Sexualities. doi: 10.1177/1363460717740256
Messer, D. E., & Goh, J. N. (2017). Locating the face of God: Practical theological reflections on LGBTIQ people and churches. in God’s image, 36(2), 21–30.
Goh, J. N. (2017). Navigating sexual honesty: A qualitative study of the meaning-making of pornography consumption among gay-identifying Malaysian men. Porn Studies, 4(4), 447–462. doi: 10.1080/23268743.2017.1371066
Goh, J. N. (2017). Bridging benedictions, enlightening embodiment: Interpretations of spirit through desire among gay and bisexual Malaysian men. Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 7(2), 128–141. doi: 10.1080/20440243.2017.1370907
Goh, J. N. (2017). From polluted to prophetic bodies: Theo-pastoral lessons from the lived experiences of gay, HIV-positive Christian men in Singapore. Practical Theology, 10(2), 133–146. doi: 10.1080/1756073X.2017.1296240
Goh, J. N. (2016). Searched and known: An autoethno-theological reflection on the sexual body and creation in relation to Psalm 139. CrossCurrents, 66(4), 485–500. doi: 10.1111/cros.12210
Goh, J. N. (2016). Survivalist sexuality-faith strategies in biblical meaning-makings: Non-heteronormative Malaysian Christian men and negotiations of sexual self-affirmation. QUEST: Studies on Religion & Culture in Asia, 1, 38–53.
Goh, J. N. (2016). Imaginative assemblages of transcendent/desire: Non-heteronormative Malaysian men speak up and talk back. Critical Research on Religion, 4(2), 125–140. doi: 10.1177/2050303216647104
Goh, J. N., & Wong, P. (2015). Editorial: Queer theologies—playing with theology. in God’s image, 34(2), 1–4.
Goh, J. N. (2015). Outing the self/outing God: Reimagining the cross for Christians with same-sex attractions. in God’s image, 34(1), 22–31.
Goh, J. N. (2014). Fracturing interwoven heteronormativities in Malaysian Malay-Muslim masculinity: A research note. Sexualities, 17(5–6), 600–617. doi: 10.1177/1363460714526317
Goh, J. N. (2014). Reclaiming vision and voice: A queer-feminist-liberation reading of Mark 10: 46-52 in relation to non-heteronormative Malaysians. in God’s image, 33(1), 40–51.
Goh, J. N. (2014). Sacred sexual touch: Illness, sexual bodies and sacramental anointing in rural Bidayŭh villages. Rural Theology: International, Ecumenical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 12(1), 42–52. doi: 10.1179/1470499414Z.00000000027
Goh, J. N. (2014). ‘You must follow our belief or else you can’t receive God’: Constructing a sexual bi/theology of Eucharist. Dialog, 53(2), 149–158. doi: 10.1111/dial.12105
Lee, J. C. H., Goh, J. N., Landau-Ward, A. R., Sutcliffe, R. J. (2018). Partial Kuala Lumpur: Ethnicity, class, sexuality, and protest. In T. Bunnell & D. P. S. Goh (Eds.), Urban Asias: Essays on futurity past and present (pp. 219-231). Berlin, Germany: JOVIS Publishers.
Córdova Quero, H., & Goh, J. N. (2018). More than a divine ménage à trois: Friendship, polyamory and the doctrine of the Trinity. In L. Isherwood & D. von der Horst (Eds.), Contemporary theological approaches to sexuality (pp. 289–312). London: Routledge
Goh, J. N. (2017). Realising a true family of God. In P. Kuruvilla (Ed.), Christian responses to issues of human sexuality and gender diversity: A guide to the churches in India (pp. 44–48). New Delhi & Nagpur, India: ISPCK/NCCI.
Goh, J. N. (2016). Close encounters of the authentic kind: Exploring the meaning-making of love, sex and intimacy among gay-identifying Malaysian men. In J. C. H. Lee & M. Ferrarese (Eds.), Punks, monks and politics: Authenticity in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia (pp. 47–64). London: Rowman & Littlefield International.
Goh, J. N. (2016). ‘Why is It wrong?’: Conceptualisations of sexual wrongdoing and sexual ethics among gay-identifying Malaysian men. In Y. S. L. Chan, J. F. Keenan, & S. G. Kochuthara (Eds.), Doing Asian theological ethics in a cross-cultural and an interreligious context (pp. 347–360). Bengaluru, India: Dharmaram Publications.
Ferrarese, M., Goh, J. N., Lee, J. C. H., & Lim, C. (2015). Identity formations in contemporary Malaysia: Traversing and transcending ethnicity. In J. Chin & J. Dosch (Eds.), Malaysia post-Mahathir: A decade of change? (pp. 41–69). Singapore: Marshall Cavendish.
Goh, J. N. (2015). Peculiar politics in Malaysia: A queer perspective on non-heteronormative Malay-Muslim men. In J. E. Cox & J. Grzelinska (Eds.), Ways of queering, ways of seeing (pp. 3–33). Oxford, UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press.
Campos, M. S., Córdova Quero, H., Goh, J. N., Leung, E., Siew, M., & Yip, L. (2014). Desire, nation and faith: A roundtable among Emerging Queer Asian/Pacific Islander Religion Scholars (EQARS). In H. Córdova Quero, J. N. Goh, & M. S. Campos (Eds.), Queering migrations towards, from, and beyond Asia(pp. 61–74). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Córdova Quero, H., Goh, J. N., & Campos, M. S. (2014). Introduction: Trans/pacific affairs: Queer-journeyers in search of new liaisons. In H. Córdova Quero, J. N. Goh, & M. S. Campos (Eds.), Queering migrations towards, from, and beyond Asia (pp. 1–18). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Goh, J. N. (2014). Transgressive empowerment: Queering the spiritualities of the mak nyahs of PT Foundation. In H. Córdova Quero, J. N. Goh, & M. S. Campos (Eds.), Queering migrations towards, from, and beyond Asia (pp. 123–137). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Goh, J. N. (2013). Malaysian masculine exposé: Queering the politics of non-heteronormative Malay-Muslim men. In V. Fraser (Ed.), Queer sexualities: Diversifying queer, queering diversity (E-Book, pp. 15–30). Oxford, UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press.
Goh, J. N. (2016). Our Lady of Subang Jaya. In Miracles: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Supernatural Events from Antiquity to the Present (pp. 312-314). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Other Works (selected)
Goh, J. N. (2018). Gender, Sexuality and ‘Songsang’: Freedom of Expression for LGBT Malaysians? Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, Young Academics Voice (22). Retrieved from https://kyotoreview.org/yav/gender-sexuality-songsang-freedom-of-expression-lgbt-malaysians/.
Goh, J. N. (2016). Christianity, Sexual Diversity and Access to Health Services. Bangkok, Thailand: APCOM. Retrieved from https://apcom.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/DiscussionPaper_Christianiy-2016.11.25.pdf
Goh, J. N. ‘Report from Jakarta: the International Consultation on Church and Homophobia’. AACRE. December 5, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2016. http://aacre.org/report-jakarta-international-consultation-church-homophobia/
Goh, J. N. ‘Amplify 2014: All-Asia Open and Affirming Church and Life Conference in Singapore’. Fridae.asia. October 6, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2016. http://www.fridae.asia/lifestyle/2014/10/06/12716.amplify-2014-all-asia-open-and-affirming-church-and-life-conference-in-singapore
Goh, J. N. (2014, February 11). ‘Trans*cending Tribulations’. New Mandala. February 1, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2016. http://www.newmandala.org/transcending-tribulations-malaysian-mak-nyahs/
Chan, C. T., Hue, S. M., Goh, J. N., Kaur, J, 2019 (start year): Collaborative Learning in Informal Spaces: Barriers and Supports, Monash University Malaysia Learning and Teaching Research Grant, Monash University Malaysia, RM 17,882.
Goh, J. N.; Bong, S. A., and Kananatu, T., 2018: International Conference on Gender and Sexuality in Asia. Global Asia 21 (GA21), Monash University Malaysia, RM15,000
Goh, J. N., 2018: Amplify Open and Affirming Conferences: An Investigation of Queer Spiritual Spaces, SASS Internal Research Grant, Monash University Malaysia, RM8000.
Goh, J. N., 2017: Manang Bali: Revisiting the Socio-Cultural Significance of Gender-Variant Iban Shamans in Sarawak, Malaysia, SASS Internal Research Grant, Monash University Malaysia, RM1500.
Goh, J. N., 2016: The Dis/Empowerment of Malaysian Transmen: Negotiations of Identity Construction, Socio-Political Interaction and Faith Engagement, SASS Internal Research Grant, Monash University Malaysia, RM7400.
Areas of Research & Supervision
Dr Goh is interested in supervising PhD projects in the areas of gender and sexuality, sexual health, LGBTIQ, human rights, and religion and theology. He is particularly keen on original proposals that demonstrate intersectionality.
Postgraduate (Monash University)
Laura Eva Wong (with main supervisor Associate Professor Sharon A Bong)
Making masculinity: Being ‘butch’ in Singapore