Discourses of Bisexuality and Sex Work in a Thai Series

Authors: Miguel Lorenzo B. Garcia (De La Salle University, Trinity University of Asia, The Philippines)
Speakers: Miguel Lorenzo B. Garcia
Strand: Language, Gender, Sexuality
Session Type: General Session


The language of minoritized genders has been of interest to scholars working in the field of language, gender, and sexuality as well as feminist/queer studies. While many studies have investigated how language constructs the identity of gays, lesbians, and transgender people, there have been limited studies on bisexuals, a minority that is erased even in the LGBT community. Hence, there is a need for an investigation of the linguistic construction of bisexuality in queer/BL series from Thailand. In light of this, I have analyzed discourses on bisexuality and sex work using Bucholtz and Hall’s framework (2004) for tactics of intersubjectivity in language and sexuality, i.e., adequation, authentication, and authorization. In their framework, language in interaction is analyzed in context to determine how it constructs the sexual identity of interlocutors. I used the English subtitles of the show 3 Will Be Free on Youtube as the corpus for analysis due to my lack of proficiency in Thai. The show portrays a bisexual sex worker as a main character. Findings reveal that non-bisexuals tend to denaturalize the identity of bisexuals. On the other hand, the bisexual character uses language to legitimize his own sexual identity, which the story somehow tries to suggest as natural. In terms of sex work, the language in the series seems to construct sex workers as dignified workers by legitimizing their trade. Furthermore, they present themselves as aligning with morality and national values. Their language suggests they not only provide sex but imply that they not only provide sex but also fulfill their customer’s desires while achieving agency in their poverty by using their bodies. These findings could be an important step toward making the general public accept bisexuals and sex workers. Through the authentic portrayal of bisexuals and sex workers, the series could provide representation to these liminal communities who are disadvantaged and discriminated, thereby making them more visible.


Bucholtz, M., & Hall, K. (2004). Theorizing identity in language and sexuality research.
Language in Society, 33(4), 469-515.

Keywords: Bisexuality, Sex Work, Thai Series, Gender, Sexuality, LGBT community