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 is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Queer Asia book series (Hong Kong University Press).
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 and transgender spaces, queer ecclesiologies, and various issues of LGBTIQ youth and children.
Dr Goh is currently working on a research project that explores the effects of Covid-19 on transgender spaces in Kuala Lumpur. In collaboration with Dr Michael Sepidoza Campos of De La Salle University in the Philippines, he is also organising an International ECR Workshop in mid-November 2021 with the theme Genders, Sexualities, and Theopastoral Imaginations in Southeast Asia.
Dr Goh continues to apply the elements of best educational practices which he gleans from various Continuing Education Excellence Development (CEED) programmes and other avenues to the units which he teaches. 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 was operationalised for the first time in Semester 2, 2019 and was well received by students.
Goh, J. N. (2021). Doing church at the Amplify Open and Affirming Conferences: Queer ecclesiologies in Asia. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN-13: 9783030733131
Goh, J. N., Bong, S. A., & Kananatu, T. (Eds.). (2020). Gender and sexuality justice in Asia: Finding resolutions through conflicts. Singapore: Springer. ISBN-13: 9789811589164
Goh, J. N. (2020). Becoming a Malaysian trans man: Gender, society, body and faith. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN-13: 9789811545337
Shore-Goss, R. E. & Goh, J. N. (Eds.). (2020). Unlocking orthodoxies for inclusive theologies: Queer alternatives. New York: Routledge. ISBN-13: 9780367277413
Goh, J. N. (2018). Living out sexuality and faith: Body admissions of Malaysian gay and bisexual men. London: Routledge. ISBN-13: 9781138305441
Córdova Quero, H., Goh, J. N., & Campos, M. S. (Eds.). (2014). Queering migrations towards, from, and beyond Asia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN-13: 9781137447722
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. (2021). Trans/imagining God: Articulations of individualised spirituality among Muslim and Christian transgender men. Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 11(1), 34-47. doi: 10.1080/20440243.2020.1861899
Goh, J. N. (2020). Gay men, the invention of ecclesial injustice, and aspirations for redress and renewal. CrossCurrents 70(4), 360-377. doi: 10.1111/cros.12445
Goh, J. N. (2020). Trans/Forming church in the Asia Pacific region: Narratives of hospitable ecclesiology by Philippine and Tongan transgender women. QUEST: Studies on Religion & Culture in Asia, 4. 1-17.
Goh, J. N. (2019). God>Cursing>Shaming>Blessing>Pride. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 6(3), 435–441. doi: 10.1215/23289252-7549582
Goh, J. N., Meneses, K. C., & Messer, D. E. (2019). An ecclesiological praxis of inclusivity toward sexual diversity and HIV: Learning from Singapore and the Philippines. International Journal of Public Theology, 13(2), 163–184. doi: 10.1163/15697320-12341570
Goh, J. N., & Kananatu, T. (2019). Mak nyahs and the dismantling of dehumanisation: Framing empowerment strategies of Malaysian male-to-female transsexuals in the 2000s. Sexualities, 22(1–2), 114–130. doi: 10.1177/1363460717740256
Goh, J. N., Lewis, G. L., & Leong, P. P. Y. (2019). Sexy media dissidents: State regulation, dissidence, pornography and gay men in Malaysia. Sexuality & Culture, 23(1), 192–208. doi: 10.1007/s12119-018-9550-2
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
Goh, J. N. (2020). Manang bali, indecent interweavings and healing spaces in contemporary Malaysian trans and queer theo-pastoralities. In L. Isherwood & H. C. Quero (Eds.), The indecent theologies of Marcella Althaus-Reid: Voices from Asia and Latin America (pp. 72-93). New York: Routledge.
Goh, J. N. (2020). Looking queerly through the heart: Towards a Southeast Asian praxis of doing church with LGBTIQ/PLHIV. In J. N. Goh, S. A. Bong, & T. Kananatu (Eds.), Gender and sexuality justice in Asia: Finding resolutions through conflicts (pp. 185–201). Singapore: Springer.
Goh, J. N. (2020). Afterword: Erotic dreams, theology, and the word-(re)made-flesh. In R. E. Shore-Goss & J. N. Goh (Eds.), Unlocking orthodoxies for inclusive theologies: Queer alternatives (pp. 233–242). New York: Routledge.
Goh, J. N. (2020). Songsang, confessions, and theologizings of divine lavishness. In R. E. Shore-Goss & J. N. Goh (Eds.), Unlocking orthodoxies for inclusive theologies: Queer alternatives (pp. 51–69). New York: Routledge.
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)
Luhur, W., Brown, T. N. T., & Goh, J. N. (2020). Public Opinion of Transgender Rights in Malaysia. The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/opinion-trans-rights-malaysia/
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 Dr Professor Sharon A Bong)
Making masculinity: Being ‘butch’ in Singapore