“One episode that stands out to this day involved an interview with a person who participated in chemsex,” the Malaysian podcast host known as J says when asked about memorable moments from the Kunyit Squared podcast, which has now lasted for two seasons. “Hearing about their experiences was profound. It solidified my belief that while chemsex [having sex while under the influence of drugs] is addictive, people won’t stop if they are told to not do drugs.” Fellow host V adds that even though chemsex is mainly an issue in the gay community, the lessons apply to anyone who wishes to understand drug addiction. V and J – the pair have never revealed their full names out of fear of repercussions – launched Kunyit Squared in 2018 as the first podcast in Malaysia dealing the with the gay experience. “The gay experience is multifaceted and is pretty wild behind closed doors,” V told the Post . “In the beginning we wanted to normalise these experiences, but then we realised we also had a platform to raise awareness about serious issues such as HIV and sexism on dating apps.” Malaysia’s LGBT community faces widespread prejudice, and one slur in particular has been propagated on social media: kunyit . The word traditionally refers to the orange spice turmeric, but has evolved into a term describing gay people. However, J and V have reclaimed the slur and refer to themselves as The Kunyits. Recording a podcast allowed the two men to conceal their identities and maintain the anonymity of their guests, as homosexuality is criminalised in Malaysia and the act of sodomy is banned under the penal code and the Syariah Criminal Offences Act 1997 penalising homosexual lifestyle and activities. Malaysia’s two most celebrated drag queens have appeared on Kunyit Squared. The podcast has helped promote Kuala Lumpur’s flourishing drag and party scene, including events such as Shagrilla and Berlin Is Burning (a tribute to the award-winning documentary on New York’s 1980s drag balls, Paris Is Burning ). Another notable guest has been gay comic artist Banana Gayllery, who produces satirical, thought-provoking and amusing sexcapades and criticisms of the gay community. “After the recording, he was kind enough to draw us in one of his comics,” said V. Although Malaysia is a mainly Muslim country and socially conservative, J believes that tolerance and acceptance of the queer community has improved in Kuala Lumpur, where drag parties and performances as well as safe spaces are becoming more popular. Still, V believes that the government should decriminalise homosexuality to allow the queer community to lead normal and safe lives. “I don’t see the LGBT community being fully accepted in Malaysia within my lifetime, but [I’m at] peace with that. Through the podcast, I hope we are leaving a legacy and helping make things better for future generations, then there will be documentation of what queer life was in Malaysia before their time,” he says. Aside from the podcast, J and V partnered with Take Charge Today, an organisation promoting HIV prevention awareness , and published a crowdsourced zine, Kunyit Squared Vol. 1 featuring works under the theme of “kunyit”. “There has to be a realisation that queer people are more than their sexual identities. I’m not just a gay man – I’m also a millennial, a consultant by profession, a son and a brother. There are so many other facets to my identity that define who I am.” There has to be a realisation that queer people are more than their sexual identities. I’m not just a gay man – I’m also a millennial, a consultant by profession, a son and a brother. J, co-host of podcast Kunyit Squared V adds: “One day Malaysians will realise that we were on the wrong side of history and my hope is that the podcast will serve as a reminder of what life was like for queer people in 2020 – two gay men being forced to hide our identities in fear of being ostracised, just to make our voices heard.” Kunyit Squared is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify . Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.