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Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter. He is the author of two books: the black comedy memoir The Family Law (2010) and the travelogue Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012). The Family Law has been translated into French and is currently being developed for television. Gaysia was published in India in 2013, with the US and other territories to follow in 2014. Both of his books were nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards, and he is currently working on his third.
Benjamin has also written for over 50 publications in Australia and worldwide, including Good Weekend, frankie, The Monthly and Qweekend. He has a PhD in television writing from QUT, and is a regular speaker at writers’ festivals, and on radio and television.
Nambour, Queensland. Apart from being the same place where Kevin Rudd was born, it’s probably the most unremarkable place on earth. However, you should visit the Chinese restaurant there, which is remarkable for being the worst dining establishment I’ve ever visited. Do try it!
Nothing special. For a while, I worked as a checkout guy at my local Big W, before becoming a waiter at my Dad’s restaurant. I was also a checkout guy at my dad’s Asian grocery store, where I accidentally smashed a bottle of soy sauce on a customer’s face. I wish I could say I’d been something interesting like a male prostitute, but I work mainly as a journalistic prostitute nowadays.
People know me as “that gay Asian guy” who writes about being gay and Asian a lot, and I can’t fault them on that. (Admittedly, it’s a pretty accurate description.) But I also write a lot about growing up and unconventional families, and that pops up in my journalism too, like my stories examining transgender teenagers, parents with physical disabilities, sex education in high schools and coming-of-age rituals in rural Australia.
Shortly after my book was released, I found myself at a dinner party with Waleed Aly, Jenny Kee, Ross Wilson, Libbi Gorr and Kamahl. Normally, I would assume this was a drug-induced hallucination, but this was actually something to which SBS invited me. It’s quite lovely having dinner and getting slowly drunk with Jenny Kee, let me just say.
My debut book The Family Law came out in 2010, and was a collection of black comedy stories about my Asian-Australian family, growing up in coastal Queensland and coming out as gay. We’re working on making it into a TV show now. You might’ve also read my stuff in frankie magazine, where I’ve done everything from review toilet paper to interview Bob Brown, but I write for other publications too. I’ve gone into schools with abstinence teachers for Qweekend, attended a B&S ball in rural Queensland for The Monthly, and written about a personal encounter with Margaret Andrews—wife of conservative Federal MP Kevin Andrews—for Crikey, a piece that proved so popular that it temporarily disabled their website.
I’m passionate about pretty basic stuff: that everyone has proper access to education, health services, housing, food, clean water, sanitation and the right to love who they choose. For some reason, we still haven’t achieved that as a global community, and that includes some parts of Australia.
No, you’re thinking of Lawrence Leung. He has a beard. Unless you’re thinking of Poh from Masterchef. We do look alike in some lights, I guess.
I’m currently working on my second book, a collection of non-fiction looking at queer people and communities throughout Asia. It has the working title of Gaysia.
Author portrait credit: Daniel Francisco Robles.
KSP Writers’ Centre would like to thank Booked Out for lending us the fabulous Benjamin Law and Oliver Phommavanh for our Writers Festival in the Perth hills. Our five events, held over a weekend in April, were all well attended, especially our Literary Dinner where Ben delivered an insightful and engaging keynote speech. Feedback from guests has been overwhelmingly positive. We are incredibly happy with the high calibre professionalism and delightful presence of all our guest writers. They lifted our Festival to a new level of success. Absolutely satisfied!
It was terrific having Benjamin speak at our function on the 7th June.
Communication in the lead up to was great with both your team and Ben reaching out to ensure the requirements and expectations for the event were going to be delivered on. He was punctual and delivered a great presentation that was a highlight of the event.